With the Donald Trump administration deciding to cut off all aid to Pakistan as a reaction to that country giving safe haven to “agents of chaos, violence, and terror,” the sustained Indian campaign to punish Pakistan for abetting terror has evidently paid off, at least for now.
Predictably, the Pakistanis will now sink deeper into China’s lap and the Chinese are known not to dole out resources to any country without sinister motives.
With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on the anvil and the Chinese already demanding their pound of flesh apart from the strategic advantage they would gain from easier and shorter access to the sea, the increased Pakistani dependence for substituting American aid will heighten Pakistani dependence on China.
That would open the door for virtual neo-colonialism whereby Pakistan could find itself as a veritable colony of China. Obsessed with immediate monetary gains, the Pakistan establishment is oblivious of the dangers of what it is doing.
The generals who call the shots in Pakistan were past masters in diverting huge sums of ‘aid’ for lining their own pockets or for squandering money to counter India. They would now seek to do the same with Chinese money and resources.
As Trump declared on Twitter while announcing the blocking of all aid to Pakistan on New Year’s day, American governments had over the last 15 years “foolishly” given 33 billion dollars in aid to Islamabad that had given safe haven to the terrorists the US hunts in Afghanistan.
The Chinese would not be as ‘foolish.’ They would make sure that they get their returns in the shape of mounting Pakistani debt that they could blackmail Islamabad over. The generals who are accustomed to enriching themselves would not give up on the goodies despite the price the country would have to pay in terms of diluted sovereignty.
As one of 16 “non-NATO major allies,” Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries. In 2017, the US had already withheld $350 million in military funding over concerns that Pakistan was not doing enough to fight terror. However, the alliance itself was not in question.
Now, however, after mulling over the issue and some dithering, the US administration has decided to crack the whip while announcing the Trump administration’s national security strategy.
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Last week, Vice-President Mike Pence had told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan: “President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.” That claim has been borne out now though Trump cannot be trusted to be consistent in the wake of Pakistani overtures.
Last week, The New York Times had reported that the Trump administration was seriously weighing whether to withhold $255 million in already delayed aid to Islamabad over its failure to better crack down on terror groups in Pakistan.
In the economic arena, India has for long given Pakistan ‘most favoured nation’ treatment while Pakistan has spurned all demands for reciprocity. This is the time for India to act by revoking the unilateral grant of such status.
Though India has, in recent months, added new sharpness to retaliatory attacks in the wake of Pakistani shelling on Indian positions on the border, we need to examine more punitive strikes.
Now that India and the US are broadly on the same page with regard to safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan, an international campaign needs to be mounted for declaring Pakistan a terror state or as a state sponsor of terror.
American administrations in the past have cared little for Indian sensibilities on Pakistani terror camps which train, arm and infiltrate terrorists into Kashmir. Even now, when the Trump administration talks of combating terror, its reference is only remotely to terror in India. Essentially, it is to the Haqqani network, which is an affiliate of Afghan Taliban and works out of Pakistan, inflicting massive casualties on US-led international coalition in Afghanistan.
Frustrated by Islamabad’s reluctance to co-operate on controlling them, the United States has tied large portions of military aid payments to Pakistan to its actions aimed at debilitating the network. But the Pakistanis just drag their feet.
At the root of everything lies the supremacy of the army in Pakistan and the incapacity and unwillingness of the civilian government to confront it.
But it is chilling to think of how a corrupt army is obsessed with feathering its own nest while the Pakistani establishment pleads helplessness.
With the US also vehemently opposed to CPEC as India is because of the fillip it would give to Chinese hegemony in the region, it is indeed imperative that the US, India, Japan and Australia work together to frustrate Chinese designs and to prevent the Chinese from blocking the sea lanes so that there is unimpeded movement of goods meant for trade.