Thursday, 30 March 2017
Conspiracy theories and the CPEC, Dr Shabir Choudhry
London 30 March 2017
Politics in Pakistan generally thrives on conspiracy theories. Politicians and the public try to find a conspiracy in everything; and people, by and large, enjoy talking about these conspiracy theories and take lead in spreading them. Sad thing is if you don’t accept their version of events or perceived threats, they get angry and without any hesitation will call you a traitor or an agent of someone.
In their view, all the problems of Pakistan are because of India, Israel, and the West, especially America. Let us accept for a minute, that there is some truth in these allegations and some foreign countries could be behind terrorism and political instability in Pakistan.
However, question arises, which country tells Pakistani leaders, bureaucrats and other officials to loot and plunder resources of Pakistan and deposit that money outside Pakistan? Which country tells Pakistani milkmen to mix polluted tap water in milk which Pakistani children drink for nourishment? Which foreign secret agency tells Pakistani butchers to sell donkey and dog meat as halal meat of goats and sheep? Which foreign country tells Pakistani doctors and pharmaceutical companies to sell fake medicines? The list goes on.
People should accept that as a nation they have serious problems. It is sad that corruption, nepotism, extremism, fabrication, dishonesty, loot and plunder as become a way of life for many citizens; and instead of looking at their own bad deeds they divert attention by saying that there is a foreign conspiracy against Pakistan.
A favourite rallying slogans are:
· Islam is in danger – danger from who? Pakistan has 98% Muslims. Is the danger to Islam from these Muslims; or is it from the 2% non-Muslims?
· Pakistan is in danger – they don’t tell that danger to Pakistan is due to their wrong policies of strategic depth, promoting extremism and harbouring terrorists;
· And new slogan is ‘our nuclear assets are in danger’ and the world is determined to take these away from Pakistan. First priority was to build nuclear bombs and infrastructure to protect Pakistan; and now worried nation is busy trying to protect these weapons.
Whenever something goes wrong in Pakistan, or the establishment want to divert attention of people from some burning domestic issue, a situation is created and a systematic campaign is launched that arch enemy - India was behind this incident. In some cases, they say a foreign hand was behind this. Similarly, if something unpleasant happens in India, they accuse Pakistan for this.
Unfortunately, this blame game is very old and notorious. People with common sense and knowledge understand motives behind this, and generally they ignore these allegations. However, some are brave enough to challenge these allegations and provide a counter narrative and suffer. Others, while disagreeing with these allegations and want to oppose the establishment, but choose to acquiesce because of fear of reprisals or personal gains.
Is India behind terrorism in Pakistan to sabotage CPEC
Although there are many countries and groups inside and outside Pakistan who have strong reasons to oppose the CPEC, yet the biggest allegation is: ‘India is opposing the CPEC and destabilising Pakistan’.
This allegation would have more merit if there was complete peace and harmony in Pakistan before start of the CPEC. Religious militant groups created by the Pakistani establishment with intention of using them as proxies to promote their agenda inside and outside Pakistan, some of them turned their guns against the creator and caused havoc in Pakistan. The Pakistani establishment was not morally courageous enough to acknowledge their disastrous policy and blamed ‘foreign hand’ in these terrorist acts. This is not to suggest that there was no outside support for these acts. It is natural that if you export terrorism and hatred to other countries they will in turn do the same. A Pakistani writer Anjum Altaf in his article, ‘Locating the enemy’ said:
‘Much as one would like to swallow this line it is really hard to believe that it was our enemies who convinced us to create these monsters in the first place…Or that it is our enemies who are forcing us to discriminate between good terrorists and bad, between real terrorists and mere sectarian killers, and between terrorists and philanthropists who rush to help the poor and needy in times of floods and earthquakes when the state fails to do what it is supposed to do’. 1
If one is in a business of feeding poisonous snakes with intention of exporting them and intimidating the neighbours, one also needs to be prepared to face its consequences, as the neighbours can also formulate counter strategies; and snakes can also bite the owner, his wife, his children and his friends.
When a terrorist attack took place on a Mall Road, Lahore, near the Provincial Assembly in which many innocent people were killed. Instant response from some quarters was India has done it. After a few hours of investigation, it was revealed that the man who brought the suicide bomber to Lahore, kept him in a ‘safe house’ and then took him to the Mall Road was a Pakistani who was doing some business in Lahore. It took the investigating team only 45 minutes the catch the culprit with evidence.
In revenge for this attack, within hours the Pakistani jet fighters were in action, and it was claimed that more than 100 terrorists were killed. I was among those who questioned rational of this claim. How were they able to locate 100 terrorists so soon? Did they know where they were hiding? How did they know they were terrorists? If they knew they were terrorists and they were hiding in that locality, why no action was taken to apprehend them? I raised these questions on the social media. A Pakistani writer wrote in the following words:
‘What puzzles me is how the terrorists who have been eliminated were identified and located so quickly. Did we always know where they were but were letting them be for some reason? If we were letting them be was it because we did not have enough evidence they were involved in terrorism? If that is indeed the case, how could we just go ahead and eliminate them without conclusive evidence? And, if we did have the evidence and knew where they were, why did we not arrest them and establish their involvement in some sort of a normal civilised manner’? 2
It is interesting to note that some of these air raids were conducted inside Afghanistan, an independent country and a Muslim neighbour of Pakistan. The fact that these raids were carried out almost immediately proves that they knew where these terrorists were hiding, some inside Pakistani territory and some outside.
Among the causalities could be innocent people including old men, women and children. More worrying is the fact that Pakistan had no right to violate air space of another sovereign country and kill people. If this precedent is acceptable that a country can cross the international boundary and conduct an act of aggression without knowledge or consent of that country, then Pakistan can also face similar actions.
America also carried out an attack on Abbottabad, either with consent or without consent. They carried out other military acts inside Pakistan when their forces were in Afghanistan. OK, one can understand drone attacks were carried out with the consent of Pakistan; and the statements and some demonstrations were arranged to fool Pakistani people.
Last year, India claimed to have carried out a military action inside Pakistan or in Jammu and Kashmir territory controlled by Pakistan. It is a known fact that militants go across the LOC from the Pakistani controlled area to do jihad – to commit acts of violence and terrorism in India or inside the territory controlled by India. What if India decides to use the Pakistani action in Afghanistan as an example, and try to carry out some military action in Pakistan or in the territory controlled by Pakistan. Won’t this push the region towards another military confrontation; and if the policy makers of Pakistan want to avoid this disastrous outcome, then is it not prudent that they should be more cautious in their approach to the problem solving and in relationship with neighbouring countries?
The learned writer, Anjum Altaf, while talking about the policy of good Taliban or a good terrorist says:
‘Why do we seem to be in this game of ranking terrorists along some scale of goodness or usefulness? If that is indeed the case, could someone have the courtesy of taking the nation into confidence, explaining how some terrorists are better than others and what we are aiming to do with the good ones?....A failure to provide convincing answers can only lead to one conclusion: We have met the enemy and he is us’.3
I am not in a position to say that India is involved or not in terrorism in Pakistan. However, many analysts, which include Pakistanis too, feel there are other factors that result in terrorism in Pakistan. For example, sponsoring militant groups that continue to follow instructions of Islamabad; and despite enormous human and financial losses still differentiating between a ‘good Taliban’ and a ‘bad Taliban’; or a ‘good terrorist’ and a ‘bad terrorist’.
Also, their policy of providing safe havens to those who commit acts of violence in Afghanistan, in India and in Kashmir; and supporting certain Islamic sects against the others is also backfiring. It looks that the Pakistani establishment is determined not to learn from past mistakes and wants to continue with their disastrous policies.
Syed Arfeen, a Karachi based investigative journalist in his article ‘Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Good Taliban’ wrote on 10 March 2017, that in the ‘outlawed Pakistani militant outfit Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), took credit for the attack and claimed the assault was part of their newly announced offensive’. 4
This new wave of terror in Pakistan is launched by ‘Operation Ghazi’, named after the deceased leader of Islamabad’s famous Red Mosque, Mulana Abdur Rasheed Ghazi, who was first groomed and when he was becoming too big for his shoes killed in a Pakistan Army operation in 2007. His brother is still regarded as a ‘holy cow’ in Pakistan. He can say anything, even challenge a writ of the government and the authorities don’t take any action against him. Is Indian RAW or CIA telling Pakistani authorities to let him promote terrorism, religious hatred and violence; or is this a State policy not to say anything to those who preach hatred and intolerance?
One can believe that these ‘bad Talibans’ and ‘bad terrorists’ may have safe havens in Afghanistan, but one should also remember the fact that there are large areas of Afghanistan which are not under the control of Kabul; and the government does not have their writ in these areas. Apart from that, we should also remember that for many decades Pakistan has been sponsoring terrorism, or call it jihad, in Afghanistan which resulted in death of more than 3 million people since 1979.
What Pakistan did in Afghanistan, and continues to do is not on the request of the Afghan government; and it was not a Pakistani business who ruled Afghanistan. Their policy of a ‘strategic depth’ has cost Pakistan and Afghanistan enormously. It was during the ‘Afghan jihad’; and subsequent imperialist policy of ‘strategic depth’ when the militant infrastructure was established to use militancy as a foreign policy tool.
When these militants understood the power of a gun and terrorism, some of them rebelled against their masters in Pakistan; and the policy of exporting jihad came to haunt Pakistan. Sadly, Pakistani establishment still did not abandon their futile and dangerous policy. They still continued to provide everything what the ‘good Talibans’ and ‘good terrorists’ needed. Pakistani establishment erroneously believed that they can breed and train snakes, which will only bite their enemies in the neighbouring countries. When snakes, in accordance with their nature started biting Pakistanis, the establishment got unnerved and started complaining and blaming other countries.
The man behind the suicide attack on the Mall Road Lahore, Anwar-ul-Haq is from Bajur Agency, FATA (Pakistan); and was a member the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which claimed responsibility for the deadly blast. Anwar Ul Haq worked in Lahore. He was the man, and not the Indian RAW or CIA who brought the suicide bomber to Lahore, and provided him shelter. He was the one who selected the target place and took him there on his motor bike.
A Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar at Sehwan in Sindh became a target of the terrorists, only three days after the attack in Lahore, which killed at least 88 devotees and leaving many injured. Rahimullah Yousafzai, a seasoned Pakistani journalist and analyst believes the terrorists wanted to send this message that their back is not broken by Zarb e Azab, as claimed by the Pakistani army high command.
In any case, Muslims in Pakistan know very well which sect of Islam systematically targets shrines and who supports them.
The new Pakistani army Chief has started a new military operation called Radd Ul Fasad – elimination of discord; but many people question if his operation will be able to eradicate terrorism. Above all, if he has the correct strategy to eradicate terrorism; or he is also only interested in cutting off some branches of terrorism. Will he be able to attack holy cows of jihad and dismantle sources of extremism and terrorism?
Whether the Pakistani establishment can be united to eliminate terrorism and dismantle sources of extremism and terrorism or not; but surely the terrorist groups have regrouped and have united on certain points. Khan Said Sajna, who leads the powerful faction of Mehsud Taliban has joined hands with Mullah Fazlullah led TTP. Sami Yousafai wrote in Newsweek that in January this year various factions of TTP have decided to reunite to continue their ‘jihad’ against Pakistan. 5
After the recent attacks in Pakistan, the Pakistan army claimed to have destroyed many terrorist camps. Also, the Pakistan army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa contacted U.S. General John Nicholson, Resolute Support Mission (RSM) commander in Afghanistan and expressed his concerns over continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan coordinated with impunity from Afghanistan.
In the Past, Afghanistan used to complain about Pakistani sponsored terrorism; and urged Pakistan to stop it. Now, Pakistan accuses Afghanistan for supporting TTP and JUA for acts of terrorism against Pakistan. Afghanistan in return, blames Pakistan for supporting the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network in their terror campaign against Kabul.
It is important to note that the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban do not target Pakistan; and the TTP and JUA do not attack Kabul. Perhaps, one may argue that there is no Afghan institutional backing to anti-Pakistan militant groups, as they operate from the areas of Afghanistan which are not controlled by Kabul government.
The Pakistani establishment is not yet ready to accept that Islamic State has strong existence in Pakistan and Afghanistan, just like the previous PPP government never accepted that the Blackwater was operating in Pakistan. People don’t understand that for the existence of ISIS, no one needs to travel from Iraq or Syria to Pakistan, or establish their offices in Islamabad. Different terror groups just have to change their allegiance, which they very frequently do. Last year a Khorsan Branch of Islamic State was declared, which is known as Islamic State of Khorsan Province or ISKP; and its area of operation is parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
It is not secret that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for ‘deadly strikes across Pakistan, including the Sehwan bombing where close to 100 innocent people, including children and women, lost their lives’. Apart from that the Law Enforcement Agencies have claimed to have ‘busted an ISKP network in Pakistan last September’, but the ‘group is still posing a potent threat as they are using local militants to achieve their targets’. 6
Question is if there is no existence of Islamic State in Pakistan, then what have the intelligence services ‘busted’? It is time that the Pakistani establishment learn from their past mistakes and target the enemies inside Pakistan. This policy of diverting attention of public by old slogans like ‘hidden hand’’, foreign hand’ and ‘broken back bone of terrorists’ may give some political mileage, but it won’t help to eradicate terrorism. Rather than saying there is a hidden hand or a foreign hand, after each incident, it is best to resolve the internal problems, and the foreign hand will automatically become ineffective without the internal support.
Despite the fact that the Pakistani policies have caused havoc in Afghanistan; they have sided with foreign countries to cause death and destruction and topple the Afghan governments which they did not like, then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has the nerve to say:
“Pakistan was a well-wisher for the war-torn country and urged the government in Kabul to realise that. “Pakistan has always desired peace and stability in Afghanistan and wants to contribute to its development.” He further said:
“A peaceful Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan and the region. We believe in maintaining good relations with all and we demonstrated this spirit of goodwill with other states and w7ithin the country as well.” 7
CPEC and Indian concerns
Everyone in Pakistan and China claim that the CPEC is an economic corridor. However, India, America and some other countries have strong reservations, as they think the CPEC is only a camouflage and the real goal is strategic and military. Also, India believes that the CPEC is designed to encircle India.
Federal Minister and the man in charge of the CPEC on the Pakistani side Ahsan Iqbal while delivering a lecture on the CPEC, organised by Applied Economics Research Center at Rangoonwala Auditorium, AERC KU said:
“An economic zone of three billion people is likely to emerge in Pakistan due to CPEC, which will act as a bridge between South Asia, Central Asia and China,” he said, and added, “India has felt greatly threatened by CPEC because it will isolate the country in the region.” 8
The Nation, English daily of Pakistan published the story with the following heading: ‘CPEC to isolate India in the region’, Ahsan Iqbal.
If one aim of the CPEC is to isolate India in the region, then is it not natural for India to be worried and take appropriate measures to safeguard their interests?
No matter what China and Pakistan may say about India’s concerns on the CPEC, many neutral experts feel Indian concerns are not without foundations. As the Nation news headline associated with Ahsan Iqbal suggests ‘CPEC to isolate India in the region’, Indian experts feel the CPEC is part of the policy to encircle and isolate India.
Also, the CPEC will endanger India’s economic and strategic interests in the Arabian Sea and in the Indian Ocean. Despite this strong apprehension, India seems to be reluctant to take any pro - active measures against the CPEC, because India does not want to internationalise the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
Indian fear is that Pakistan is always looking at opportunities or create situations to internationalise the outstanding Jammu and Kashmir dispute; and Indian over - action on the CPEC may prove to be counterproductive; and may provide Pakistan with an opportunity to exploit the situation. Some Indian policy makers feel Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistani Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are not under their control anyway, so why risk of creating more trouble for Kashmir which they control.
On January 17, speaking at a seminar in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: "Only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved, can regional connectivity corridors fulfil their promise and avoid differences and discord."
Some Indian policy makers feel just a few vague statements like the one above are sufficient to register their concern on the CPEC. Perhaps, they don’t understand that both China and Pakistan pay no attention to these statements; and they will continue to do what they think is in their best interest.
Another statement of India’s Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh, while speaking to ANI said:
“We will free Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, free Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan’s occupation and make them part of Indian Republic to bring Jammu and Kashmir in its original form.” 9
This statement was made when Pakistanis were celebrating 78th Pakistan Day. The timing of the statement is crucial. What message this statement will give to people of Pakistan and their supporters in Jammu and Kashmir and in the world? What is the purpose of this provoking statement when there is no will or strength to do anything? It will only provide a strong propaganda stick in the hands of policy makers of Islamabad and their army of social media activists around the globe.
In my opinion, it will only create problems for those local groups who are actively working against the Islamabad’s Kashmir policy, their oppression and exploitation. The Pakistani media cell and their army of social media activists will say, ‘Look this statement has confirmed our view that India is behind these people who are working to destabilise Islamic Republic of Pakistan’. They will make it a Muslim and Hindu issue, hence, create more problems for genuine human rights and political activists.
At one time, China was neutral on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir dispute. As China and Pakistan relationship became stronger, China abandoned its neutrality and openly supported Islamabad on Jammu and Kashmir and on other issues including safeguarding Pakistani extremists and terrorists from the UN and America. China even issued stapled visas to some Kashmiri Muslim leaders who are in good books of Pakistan.
Some experts feel due to the CPEC and growing China and Pakistan relations in many fields, including economic and military relations, it is believed that China will become more pro - active in matter of Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and in protection of Pakistan. This is not in the interest of India because China is becoming a big player in the international relations and holds a veto power in the UN.
Fahad Shah, in his article, Does the China Pakistan economic corridor worry India? writes:
‘The Gwadar port, overlooking one of the world's busiest shipping lanes in the Arabian Sea, has been leased to Beijing for 40 years. New Delhi fears that the port might become a Chinese naval outpost, thereby threatening India's energy and economic security, as more than two thirds of India's petroleum imports pass through the area’. 10
It is believed that India is investing in Iran and Afghanistan to counter the CPEC and constructing an alternative route to the CPEC. In this regard Chabahar Port, is developed by India, and which is only 75km from Gwadar. India has also invested around two billion US dollars in Afghanistan in developing infrastructure, which will enable India to travel via Iran and Afghanistan to Central Asia. Despite repeated requests, Pakistan has not provided this access to India.
Once this route becomes functional, it will open new markets for the Indian industrialists. Also, it will benefit landlocked Afghanistan to connect itself with the Gulf states, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
It is also a possibility that sometime in future, when common sense prevails, and the countries concerned realise that continued hostility and tension is not good; and they work out a mechanism whereby Gwadar and Chabahar Port become a sister ports, a part of same network.
Game plan of China
It should be noted that India spends almost seven times more on its military than Pakistan; and its GDP is 8 times more than that of Pakistan. Apart from that, India’s population is 6.5 times that of Pakistan and land area 4 times that of Pakistan. Which means, in view of many experts, Pakistan is not a match to India.
China desperately needs Pakistan to advance their future plans, which includes development of its Western region; and to have an alternative route in case if there are problems in South China Sea. Due to growing Indian development and hegemony, China is helping Pakistan even more. This in turn, force America and India to forge close economic and military ties.
Moreover, the involvement of Pakistan in building new ‘Arab armies’ can be very important. Pakistani former army Chief, Raheel Sharif is to Head this alliance; and many experts are watching this development with suspicion. Who knows what is the real game plan, because it can have great impact on the politics of Middle East and South Asia.
In order to protect their economic and strategic interests, China feels compelled to strengthen Pakistan that they can defend themselves against any misadventure of India. Just like America is preparing India to challenge growing power and influence of China, or contain China; similarly, it suits China to prepare Pakistan to challenge India’s growing power and influence.
Also, it must be noted that China has been quietly playing an active role in Afghanistan; and they don’t want any government in Kabul which is anti - army of Pakistan. This line of thinking can play an important role in future politics of the region.
Apart from that, it should also be noted that America has made enormous investment in Afghanistan, militarily, strategically, financially and in human suffering. They also know that their close ally, Pakistan, which pocketed billions of dollars from the Afghan war was playing double game and that resulted, in a way, ‘defeat’ of America in Afghanistan.
Has America forgotten their wounds which they suffered in Afghanistan, especially when a man like Donald Trump is in the Whitehouse with his pro - active and aggressive team? Will America let China, Pakistan and, perhaps, Russia call the shots in Afghanistan South Asia and in Central Asia? That surely is not in the strategic interest of America. In view of Mian Saifur Rehman, abandoning Afghanistan is tantamount to ‘selling away on a platter United State’s vital strategic interest and influence in Greater South West Asia and Central Asia’.
Mian Saifur Rehman further writes: “China, in the garb of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the China-Pakistan Axis, is bent on overturning the geopolitical stability of the region. So now, Afghanistan is the US President Trump’s most pressing call. The United States does not need an Indian strategic analyst to highlight how vital Afghanistan is for United States’ national security interests”. 11
Germany was fast emerging as an economic and military power before the First World War. The leaders of Germany knew that they need a strong economy to wage wars and win them. Also, they knew they need friends and new markets; and good networking. So, they initiated a mega project, just like the CPEC, which was to link Berlin with Baghdad – Iraq. This 4500-km long railway track line project aimed to strengthen bilateral trade relation with Iraq and promote regional connectivity with other countries like Syria, Turkey, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Austria. Also, in the plan included establishment of an advanced port at Persian Sea, and fast access and supply of oil from Syria and Iraq.
Dr Ramesh K Vankwani, a Member National Assembly of Pakistan and Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Hindu Council in his article, ‘Western conspiracies against CPEC’ wrote: ‘The superpowers of that time felt risks that if the economically fast growing Germany succeeded in this project, then it will not take long time to appear as a new superpower of the world, and with the access to Arab world oil reservoirs the defensive and economic position of Germany will be more strong and invincible. These were the reasons and the causes because of which the imperialists of that time started conspiracies against that great project. To fail that railway line, we see how tension aroused among Austria and Serbia’. 12
As a result of the World War 1, not only millions of people died but also that mega project also ended. The Pakistani Parliamentarian while citing the World War 1 says:
‘This terrible incident is a lesson for us so that we can understand the intensity of western conspiracies against China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Our Western neighbor Afghanistan has a hostile attitude towards Pakistan from day one, Afghanistan was the only country who voted against Pakistan for its UN membership in 1947. The Durand Line is still a major factor for regional tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan since the independence’. 13
He acknowledges India’s concerns regarding the CPEC:
‘Indian concerns are quite understandable that because of CPEC Chinese ships will get alternative sea routes to bypass Indian territory but Indian access to the Middle East and western world via sea route could also be limited, China and Pakistan can keep an eye on Indian ships movement in Arabian Sea, etc but landlocked Afghanistan should think before becoming tool of any country that its interest is associated with peaceful relation with Pakistan’…. He concluded his view by stating that:
‘Common enemies of Pakistan and China are trying to damage the business interests of both friendly countries by doing conspiracies against this great project of 21st century, I think by backing up Afghanistan against Pakistan in this great game, a similar sort of atmosphere is being tried to create which was faced by Germany in the last century’. 14
The Pakistani Parliamentarian said the above. One can accept or reject these points. However, before taking decision on those points, it is important what the Prime Minister says on this topic. During his visit to Turkey, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, some ‘regional powers’ appear to have a problem with the multibillion-dollar project; but he did not ‘sense any conspiracy is being hatched by the US or the West against CPEC”. However, in a reply to a question about the economic corridor, he said, “some regional powers are unhappy with this project”. 15
Is it possible that the great powers of today can do what great powers of the last century did to stop Germany emerging as a great power to challenge their might? Or they will sit idle, and allow China to emerge as a serious threat to their economic and strategic interests? If they decide to work out some mechanism to stop the CPEC from becoming a reality, it cannot be a direct intervention because of the nuclear deterrent. Does it mean they will also use their proxies or set up new proxies to challenge the emerging might of China, Russia and Pakistan?
Or, are we likely to witness another non - nuclear military confrontation between India and Pakistan which can lead to seriously sabotaging the CPEC or even lead to disintegration of the existing Pakistan, as predicted by some experts?
No one has answers to above questions. I can only hope that common sense prevails and the powers concerned learn to resolve disputes by a process of dialogue; and avoid a policy of gun boat diplomacy.
Former Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, asserted that threat to Pakistan is not from outside, but from inside, referring to militancy and insurgency of religious groups. After his retirement, the army elite went back to the old threat perception that Pakistan’s security threat comes from India. Some military thinkers don’t even rule out another armed conflict despite the nuclear deterrent.
Also, according to the military elite the fundamental source of this threat is the unresolved dispute of Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, they think India is behind all the problems in Balochistan, in FATA and KPK. They don’t think their wrong policies are to be blamed for the problems they face today.
They think India’s growing economy and military might is encouraging the Indian policy makers to act as a regional superpower and intimidate smaller neighbours. In view of the Pakistani policy makers, in order to militarily intimidate Pakistan, India has developed a new doctrine called “Cold Start”, purpose of which is to launch speedy assaults inside Pakistani territory or territory of Jammu and Kashmir controlled by Pakistan. Aim of such attacks is to capture the territories before Pakistan prepares itself for such incursions; and use that to intimidate Pakistan or use that to impose some deal on Pakistan.
Some thought provoking comments by an Indian analyst. D S Sarma says, ‘China builds roads on some other country’s land without their permission and says that you do not have a right to protest. This is just arrogance and showing of money and muscle power. CPEC will be the first victim in the next Indo Pak war. Billions China has spent will be washed out with time. No doubt on that’.
In another, he says: ‘CPEC is doomed to fail at least for Pakistanis. The CPEC could become the cause of disintegration of Pakistan. Think what happens to CPEC once Baluchistan separates from Pakistan’? 16
I hope all these apprehensions prove to be wrong, and that all outstanding disputes are resolved by involving all the stakeholders in the process of dialogue.
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Chairman South Asia Watch and Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:
1. Dawn, March 7th, 2017. The writer is a Pakistani economist
4. Syed Arfeen is an investigative journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. He tweets @arfeensyyed http://thediplomat.com/2017/03/afghanistan-pakistan-and-the-good-taliban/
8. The Nation 14-Feb-2017 http://nation.com.pk/karachi/14-Feb-2017/cpec-to-isolate-india-in-the-region-ahsan
The News, March 8, 2017 https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/190926-China-Pakistan-Russia-troika-stands-on-goodwill
Western conspiracies against CPEC? Dr Ramesh K Vankwani, March 4, 2017 http://pakobserver.net/western-conspiracies-against-cpec/