Saturday, 12 November 2011

A subtle way to denigrate Pakistan

In his article captioned ‘A Pakistan-China nexus’, Ashfaque Ali has referred to a report carried by English daily about Chinese plans to set up bases in Pakistan. China has already rejected such mendacious reports and statements about Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan and/or Azad Kashmir, and categorically declared that it has no plans to deviate from its proclaimed policy of non-interference in other countries. The writer then tried to create confusion by stating: “Some recent developments in China may make people wonder if the stage has been set for a Chinese military role inPakistan”. The author concocts the story that the Chinese are insisting on its enhanced military presence on Pakistan, and then infers from it that such a situation could impel India or the US for a unilateral action. The author appears to be doing India’s bidding, as it is India that airs its worries about the increasing military bond between China and Pakistanstating that it has the potential to corner India if there is a military conflict. Anyhow, such analyses and conjectures are meant to suggest to India and America that they should preempt such moves.

In May 2009, in the wake of the US maneuvers in the Chinese sea and enhancing the US troops in Afghanistan, China had taken exception to ever-increasing presence of US and NATO forces in the region. Talking to reporters during his visit to Islamabad Chambers of Commerce, Chinese Ambassador Lou Zhaohui had said his country was concerned over the increasing US influence in the region adding that the number of foreign forces was too high in the region. He said that US strategies needed some “corrective measures” to contain terrorism, as terrorism was a serious issue and required cooperation between countries in the region to counter it. “We are cooperating with the US and Pakistan in the fight against terror and were in touch with Pakistani officials to chalk out a joint anti-terrorism strategy”, Chinese ambassador had said. China was indeed perturbed over the Taliban’s policy of exporting their revolution across the Afghan border during their stint in the government. However, with ever-increasing presence of US and NATO forces and especially India’s role in Afghanistan and the region, China would not close its eyes to America’s reversal to the policy to contain China.

Anyhow, China had rejected criticism by Washington alleging that Beijing’s rising military strength was focused on countering US power, as China spends a fraction of what the US spends on defence. It has to be mentioned that the US spends on its defence equivalent to combined allocation for defence by almost all countries of the world put together, of course, to protect and advance its global interests. But every country in the world has the right to develop its military with a view to protecting its borders and national interests. How China – an emerging superpower – can be oblivious to the threats posed by the US when it needs oil and other resources to keep the wheels of its industry moving? The US often accused China of poor human rights record though its own Gitmo record was despicable. Russia is also asserting its position in its breakaway Central Asian Republics and it is likely to join hands with China to counter the US moves of increasing its military presence in the region with a view to countering the threats posed, and also creating a situation to tell the world that it is no more a unipolar world.

Addressing the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy on 10th February 2007 the then Russian President Vladimir Putin had launched a full-frontal attack on the United States, as used to be the case during the Cold War era. He declared that the United States had overstepped its borders with disastrous results. He attacked the concept of unipolar world in an apparent reference to the United States – the sole superpower - adding that US actions abroad had made the world insecure and more dangerous place to live in. Explaining the term unipolar world he had said: “It means one single centre of power, one single centre of force and one single master, which has nothing in common with democracy”. He was also reported to have said that Russia had shown a lot of patience for the last 10 years but the US was persistently interfering into the affairs of sovereign countries, which must end. The emerging scenario in Latin America, once described as America’s backyard by President Harry Truman, does not augur well for the United States, as most countries vow to oppose the US hegemony.

India, however, continues to raise the bogey of threat from, what it called, Pakistan-China nexus. In July 2010, the Defence Ministry in its annual report stated its concerns over Beijing’s possible use of Jammu and Kashmir to increase its connectivity with Pakistan. “The possibility of (China) enhancing connectivity with Pakistan through the territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have direct military implications for India,” the report said. India may take “military” steps to stop any such activity, which has serious security implications. Stressing the need to remain vigilant, India’s defence minister Antony, however, hoped that China will reciprocate the initiatives aimed at mutual trust-building. India had reportedly sensed new threat perceptions and aired its concerns on a road connecting China and Pakistan through Karakoram. Almost three decades ago, when the road was laid, India made a formal protest. Subsequently, the issue was put on the backburner till 2009, but it again cropped up in 2010, and with a view to appeasing the US, Indian government has unleashed propaganda about Pakistan-China nexus.

New Delhi is upgrading some of the dilapidated advanced landing grounds (ALG) near the Sino-Indian border, ostensibly for rapid troop movement if the need arises. Three such ALGs have been reactivated in Ladakh. Work on other ALGs in Arunachal Pradesh is progressing. Faced with growing Chinese military presence along the border and other complex security challenges in the region, Indian government is planning to increase the strength of the Indian Army by almost one lakh soldiers over the next five years. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved a sum of Rs 64,000-crore (approximately $13 billion) military modernization plan that would include raising four new divisions along the India-China border. Two of these would be part of a Mountain Strike Corps dedicated to offensive operations. The plan also includes raising two independent brigades, one in Ladakh and the other in Uttarakhand. If India continues to spend huge amount on defence, it will not be left with funds to fight poverty, hunger and disease of the teeming millions. When these lines are being written, India is to open bids for 126 fighter jets worth $11 billion for India’s air force.

By Mohammad Jamil

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