Pak-china bon­homie reaf­firms In­dia’s rise

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTNATION - Shishir.gupta@hin­dus­tan­


NEW DELHI: The joint state­ment is­sued af­ter Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan’s four-day visit to meet his “Iron Broth­ers” in Bei­jing is most in­struc­tive as it in­ad­ver­tently ac­knowl­edges the rise of In­dia as a global power and willy-nilly re­duces Is­lam­abad to, at best, a client state.

The line — “both sides dis­missed the grow­ing neg­a­tive pro­pa­ganda against China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) and ex­pressed de­ter­mi­na­tion to safe­guard the CPEC pro­jects from all threats” — is di­rectly pointed at In­dia and so is big brother’s sup­port for “Pak­istan’s ef­forts for im­prove­ment of Pak­istan-in­dia re­la­tions and for set­tle­ment of out­stand­ing dis­putes — read Kash­mir — be­tween two coun­tries”.

On its part, Pak­istan, which is self-pro­claimed leader of Mus­lims, in the state­ment has up­held “one-china pol­icy and sup­ports all ef­forts made by Chi­nese govern­ment to re­alise na­tional re­uni­fi­ca­tion”, a eu­phemism for turn­ing a blind eye to­wards Bei­jing’s decades­long repression in Xinjiang and Ti­bet.

All this leads us to ex­am­ine the re­la­tion­ship be­tween th­ese two all weather iron broth­ers, where Bei­jing goes to the ex­tent of ve­to­ing UN des­ig­na­tion of a global ji­hadist like Jaish-e-mo­hammed (JEM) chief Ma­sood Azhar and blocks In­dia’s le­git­i­mate en­try into Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group with a Pak­istan en­try con­di­tion.

Fact is that Is­lam­abad’s sup­ping with Is­lamists tar­get­ing In­dia and Afghanistan is not hid­den from Chi­nese in­tel­li­gence but the Peo­ples Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) sees Pak­istan as a low-cost weapon to check­mate In­dia with Afghanistan as a bonus.

Bei­jing watch­ers be­lieve there is a split be­tween Chi­nese in­tel­li­gence and PLA over Paki- stan’s role in ex­port­ing ter­ror to In­dia but that the gen­er­als pre­vail when it comes to Is­lam­abad’s use for con­tain­ment of In­dia.

Time and again Chi­nese of­fi­cials have pri­vately shared with their In­dian counterparts, their knowl­edge about the ex­is­tence of ter­ror train­ing camps in Pak­istan oc­cu­pied Kash­mir (POK).

But this fact is glossed over by Bei­jing as its gets re­lief in Xinjiang with Pak­istan block­ing ji­hadist move­ment across the Wakhan cor­ri­dor and pre­vent­ing them from join­ing hands with their mil­i­tant Uighur broth­ers fight­ing against Chi­nese repression.

Repression in Xinjiang vir­tu­ally coincides with the rise of militancy in Kash­mir in 1991 but finds lit­tle global at­ten­tion as ram­pag­ing Com­mu­nist party cadre backed by PLA sub­sume lo­cal cul­ture and re­li­gion in both Xinjiang and Ti­bet through what is eu­phemisti­cally called re-ed­u­ca­tion of the masses.

Militancy in Xinjiang, how­ever, can­not be swept un­der the car­pet as a few hun­dreds to a few thou­sands from there joined the so called Islamic State in Syria in sup­port of ultra con­ser­va­tive Wa­habbi Islam.

The rea­son why China al­lows Pak­istan to take the lead in Afghanistan af­fairs de­spite know­ing all the bru­tal facts of Is­lam­abad nur­tur­ing Tal­iban, is to buf­fer the militancy in Xinjiang.

While Pak­istan may think its re­la­tion­ship with China is all milk and honey, Bei­jing clearly sees Is­lam­abad as a weapon to de­grade In­dia and a mere por­tal to ac­cess the Ara­bian Sea through Gwadar just as it uses Myan­mar to ac­cess the In­dian Ocean through Kyaukpyu port and pos­si­bly make In­dia vul­ner­a­ble in its rapid grow­ing NorthEastern states.

Con­tain­ment of In­dia through a pin­cer move is un­der­stand­able as China’s worst case sce­nario is In­dia and the US join­ing hands to counter PLA ag­gres­sion South China Sea and Indo-pa­cific re­gion with the chok­ing of the Malacca Straits as a po­ten­tial flash point.

Af­ter the 73-day In­dian ARMY-PLA stand­off at Dok­lam, the Chi­nese lead­er­ship has started look­ing at In­dia with re­spect with its para­mount leader Xi Jin­ping taking the fi­nal call on de­ci­sions in re­spect of New Delhi rather than leav­ing this to the man­darins in the for­eign min­istry or PLA head­quar­ters.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has also made it clear to Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping that while In­dia will not do any­thing to desta­bilise Bei­jing, it will not play sec­ond fid­dle to any­one in the world when it comes to pro­tect­ing na­tional in­ter­ests.

While In­dia’s ties with the US are ever grow­ing with a bi­par­ti­san con­sen­sus, they are not at the cost of Rus­sia even though PM Modi knows the grow­ing syn­ergy be­tween Moscow and Bei­jing. Fact is that In­dian and US i nter­ests con­verge i n Afghanistan, In­dian Ocean, Mid­dle-east and the Far East much to the cha­grin of China, which de­spite all ag­gres­sion has a con­stant two-front hos­til­ity night­mare.

Bei­jing re­vised its at­ti­tude to­wards In­dia af­ter the lat­ter stood up on Bei­jing’s im­pe­ri­al­is­tic Belt Road Ini­tia­tive and sup­ported the free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion in South China Sea, with the US, Ja­pan, South Korea, Sin­ga­pore and Aus­tralia join­ing hands.

China has al­ways treated In­dia as a civ­i­liza­tion power with no his­tory of an­i­mos­ity to­wards the mid­dle king­dom. The prob­lem is that In­dia un­der Modi is a global player, not the re­gional sup­pli­cant China wants.

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