CPEC and the Indian Challenge
ISLAMABAD- India, which has been opposed to China since it received a drubbing from it in the 1962 Sino-Indian War, spares no stone unturned to denigrate it. Pakistan was never accepted as a sovereign state by India and every machination in the Chanakyan book on guile and deceit has been tried out to subjugate Pakistan. India had believed that following the severance of its eastern wing in 1971, West Pakistan too would collapse but that did not happen. On the contrary Pakistan prospered and came out of the nuclear closet in 1998.
The commencement of the global war on terror by the US and coalition forces in Afghanistan in 2001, provided India a ray of hope to disparage its western neighbour and it started a propaganda campaign that Pakistan was an epicenter of terrorism in the region.
To divert world attention towards Pakistan and presenting it as a sponsor of terrorism, India even went to the extent of staging a false flag operation in the shape of an attack on its own parliament building and blaming Pakistan for it. Using the attack as a plea, India amassed its troops menacingly on the Pakistan border. The US refused to be sidetracked from its mission in Afghanistan and forced India to withdraw its troops.
After the going got tough for the US and its allies in Afghanistan, Washington turned on Pakistan and entered into a strategic alliance with India.
China’s emergence as an economic power was ringing alarm bells in US State Department and it was willing to prop up India as a bulwark to check China. Indians jumped on the opportunity as they had two clear objectives. Firstly to influence the US and European powers that Pakistan be penalized to undermine its nuclear capability and give a clear edge to India in South Asia. Secondly, by trying to equate the indigenous freedom struggle of the Kashmiris as terrorism; India wanted that the western countries should not support the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
After becoming a strategic partner of the US and having been declared by the US as a lynchpin of its Asia pivot policy, aimed at containing rising China, India received a boost. In this backdrop, in the changed post-withdrawal scenario (from Afghanistan), India had become further encouraged with the US tilt in favor of India over Pakistan in South Asia.
The 2015 visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Islamabad and the launch of China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) threw cold water on Indian plans to destabilize Pakistan as CPEC would transform Pakistan’s economy in a major way.
The projected economic benefits of CPEC to Pakistan and its enhanced strategic partnership with China, forced Indian propaganda campaigners to target CPEC along with diplomatically isolating Pakistan to deny CPEC economic and strategic advantages to Pakistan and China. Instead of choosing to join this mega project to reap related economic benefits for its people, India opted to belittling it.
A multi-pronged strategy was evolved by India. Firstly to vilify CPEC, secondly to sabotage it and thirdly to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar port and link it with Afghanistan to offer an alternate to Afghanistan as well as Central Asian States in lieu of Gwadar Port. India fails to take into cognizance that ultimately economies of scale will decide about the success of the ports, as distance from Mumbai to Chabahar is 1800 kilometers, and from Chabahar to Kabul it is 1851kilometer, whereas distance from Gwadar to Kabul is 450 kilometer.
The arrest of Indian spy agency RAW’s senior operative Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav from Balochistan is a stark reminder of India’s abhorrent machinations in Balochistan.
Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav sang like a canary and divulged his nefarious plans to sabotage CPEC. He provided graphic details of recruiting misled Baloch youth, poisoning their minds against the state of Pakistan, providing them guerrilla training, arming and launching them to cause unrest in the province.
If India believes that the US will continue to provide it all the required strategic military support to make it a major world power and prefer it over Pakistan in South Asia even if it refuses to cooperate with the US in its Asia pivot strategy to limit Chinese and Russian influence in Asia, it is mistaken. Foreign relations are based on ethnocentrism.
The US realizes that India continues to pursue its independent foreign policy, as it did by not supporting the US against Russia over Ukraine crises, in its sanctions against Iran and in the Syrian conflict In the long run such a one sided game cannot be sustained. Even if India does become a part of the Asia pivot policy of the US, for peace in Afghanistan the US will continue to maintain good relations with Pakistan as well and India will not be able to isolate Pakistan.
This is more so when China and Pakistan are now deeply connected through the CPEC project and Russia is aspiring to build good relations with Pakistan to cooperate on Afghanistan. Besides Russia, Iran and the UK, more and more countries are signing up for CPEC thus India will fail in deriding CPEC. The only option for India is to resolve its outstanding disputes with Pakistan through dialogue and join the CPEC to reap connected economic benefits rather than opposing it.
CPEC, which is the flagship project of the Belt Road Initiative, is likely to bring prosperity to the entire region including India joins it wholeheartedly. By: SM Hali