SER­PEN­TINE MA­NOEU­VRES : A VIEW­POINT

By get­ting China into Gil­git-Baltistan, Pak­istan hopes to di­vert at­ten­tion of the Shia re­bel­lion in the area, where the hap­less Shias are be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally killed through in­sti­tu­tion­alised at­tacks

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

It is many years since the dragon first ap­peared in Burma (now Myan­mar) – mainly in­vest­ment, trade and devel­op­ment – re­minds you of the East In­dia Com­pany? The aims were clear. The fire burn­ing in the belly of the dragon caused it to aim for the wa­ters of the Bay of Ben­gal.

The head of the dragon first en­tered qui­etly the Ir­rawaddy River from the North. Myan­mar was happy that China would dredge the Ir­rawaddy basin and make it nav­i­ga­ble to large ves­sels. To­day there are over three mil­lion Chi­nese in Myan­mar. Plans are afoot for a ma­jor rail line con­nect­ing Kun­ming in China with a new deep sea port at Kyaukpyu, devel­oped by China in Myan­mar, lat­ter is mush­room­ing into a spe­cial eco­nomic zone. Of course, all this came with strate­gic fore­thought, with China sup­ply­ing mas­sive mil­i­tary equip­ment to Myan­mar over the years that in­cluded fighter jets, naval ships/ ves­sels and ar­moured ve­hi­cles.

Mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion in­cluded joint ex­er­cises and Myan­mar mil­i­tary per­son­nel trained by the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA). The ul­ti­mate aim is to ex­ert strate­gic in­flu­ence in the Bay of Ben­gal and con­se­quently the In­dian Ocean. Iron­i­cally, on the Coco Is­land that In­dia gifted to Myan­mar, China built an airstrip, naval fa­cil­i­ties with an 85-me­tre-long jetty plus elec­tronic eavesdropping and sur­veil­lance fa­cil­i­ties to mon­i­tor In­dian mis­sile launches off the Odisha coast, added ad­van­tage be­ing to mon­i­tor all ship­ping in the Bay of Ben­gal. China is also lay­ing gas and oil pipe­lines through Myan­mar to avoid the Straits of Malacca and has funded the road link­ing Yan­gon and Sit­twe. China seeks per­ma­nent ac­cess to Myan­mar ports for her Navy, par­tic­u­larly Kyaukpyu and Sit­twe, lat­ter be­ing closed to Kolkata har­bour.

The dragon is fully en­trenched to drink the wa­ters of the Bay of Ben­gal but hav­ing achieved this has turned its at­ten­tion to the Ara­bian Sea.

In Fe­bru­ary 2013, Pak­istan handed over the strate­gic deep­wa­ter Gwadar sea­port to China. China had been a ma­jor fund­ing con­trib­u­tor for this port. The ‘higher than the moun­tain, deeper than the sea’ China-Pak­istan part­ner­ship has achieved an­other hall­mark, hav­ing been ini­ti­ated when Pak­istan ceded some 6,000 square kilo­me­ters of In­dian ter­ri­tory of Shaks­gam Val­ley to China in 1963. A ju­bi­lant China, show­ered Pak­istan with weapon plat­forms, mil­i­tary equip­ment, nu­clear tech­nol­ogy and a firm back­ing for Pak­istan to carry on ex­port­ing ter­ror as long as Xin­jiang re­mained safe. There­after came China’s strate­gic foot­prints in PoK and Gil­git-Baltistan cash­ing upon an im­plod­ing Pak­istan crip­pled with sec­tar­ian strife, the mil­i­tary rid­ing the tiger of ter­ror and the sham democ­racy wag­ging its tail to com­mand of the mil­i­tary-ISI and the mil­i­tary-mul­lah com­bine.

By get­ting China into Gil­git-Baltistan, Pak­istan hopes to di­vert at­ten­tion of the Shia re­bel­lion in the area, where the hap­less Shias are be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally killed through in­sti­tu­tion­alised at­tacks. Sim­i­larly, by hand­ing over Gwadar to China, Pak­istan hopes to de­flect from the Baluchis­tan in­de­pen­dence move­ment, sec­ond phase of the Baluch In­de­pen­dence war hav­ing com­menced in 2005. Agha Amin, a de­fence an­a­lyst and former Pak­istan Army of­fi­cer, fore­casts post2014 hap­pen­ings by say­ing, “An ex­trem­ist dom­i­nated Afghanistan; a Baluchis­tan fully frag­mented and crushed…a greater Chi­nese vas­sal with far greater Chi­nese in­ter­ests in Pak­istan….There is no doubt that Pak­istan will be a semi au­tonomous Chi­nese province by 2030 or so…. Pak­istani Baluchis­tan by 2030 would be a com­pletely Chi­nese run show.”

What is lit­tle known is that ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gwadar Port was handed over to a firm of Sin­ga­pore in 2007 but was can­celled now and handed over to a state-owned Chi­nese com­pany due to sim­mer­ing re­bel­lion in Baluchis­tan. For the present, both China and Pak­istan are talk­ing that Gwadar port will strictly re­main a com­mer­cial port but who are we fool­ing? PLAN will soon come call­ing for re­fu­elling halt and rest and then PLAN likes to have its own air de­fence in place to cater for any even­tu­al­i­ties. The dragon will now have its head in both the Bay of Ben­gal and the Ara­bian Sea. You can ex­pect tem­per­a­ture lev­els of the In­dian Ocean ris­ing.

LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) P.C. KA­TOCH

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