Since year 2011, I have been painting a scenario where in China will get deeper and deeper into Pakistan. For many decades China has been the “thick” friend of Pakistan – especially military and exclusively on nuclear and missile development capabilities of Pakistan. Bhutto’s Islamic Bomb has many Chinese elements is well-established.
When I wrote the scenario in 2013 January, it was a struggling Pakistan and the military had just started talking about internal militancy as a major threat. My contention was China will be the biggest threat Pakistan has and the contours of that threat will emerge as the Dragon start holding and engulfing its prey through its rapidly vibrating tongue.
My timeline for Chinese occupation was 2017-2022. Today we have three specific developments that make the scenario more and more plausible.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) becoming a major future – to be developed with Chinese Money (please see the article Here) – I must say scenario may emerge much before the year 2022 – the Chinese occupation of Pakistan. Well this Occupation will definitely be “friendly”. Further there is an element of Military in this CPEC. For example an article Here says,
“Like most things in Pakistan, the CPEC (despite its name) is as much about security as it is about economy. These roads can be used for movement of troops and landing of aircraft in the event of a war. Since we are never sure which of our borders is more problematic at any given time, the more the routes, the merrier; also, the further apart they are, the better.”
Second initiative is the Gwadar Port develpment. With Billions of Dollars from China, Gwadar port is a fortress says the NDTV headline. The article states, “Securing the planned $46 billion economic corridor of roads, railways and pipelines from northwest China to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea coast is a huge challenge in a country where Islamist militants and separatist gunmen are a constant menace.”
The Chinese cannot afford to let Pakistan go. Their Silk Road revival plan (One road one belt) and the rapidity at which they are executing it, is at stake. My article at Indian Defence Review on China’s Silk Road initiative can give a view of what is happening. In the long run Pakistan’s greatest enemy will prove to be neither India nor internal militancy, it will be China. What may not be clear even to Pakistan army/ISI/Controllers of Pakistan is the fact that it may be prudent for Pakistan to have doctrinal focus on China.
Scenario: Pakistan supported, penetrated and engulfed by China – 2017-2022 time frame painted in year 2011
The process of Chinese support to Pakistan is an ongoing process. Since 2010, China has 11000 soldiers in POK. This is close to 2+ Infantry brigades equivalent strength. Chinese are involved in building the Gwadar port – a very strategic conduit to middle-east and of course to Africa as well. Besides, China has been providing arms and ammunition to Pakistan Military forces for many decades now. Chinese are in. They are considered the thick friends by Pakistani Military.
Key factors making the above scenario likely
USA is a declining superpower. In 2017, there will be a new US President. By 2017, Pakistan military will seek more and more support from China as China already is the largest supplier to Pakistan. China will enter, embed itself and bring-in its strategy of changing the population ratio – as clearly implemented in Tibet, systematically. Pakistanis may be forced to learn and speak Chinese from 2017 onwards.
China is pursuing Deng’s reforms of 1978. The Deng reforms very clearly articulate the “superpower” phase that China will enter at the start of this century. A new type of Superpower is the design. To fulfill the Superpower by 2050 dream, will require secure, fast and wide access to Africa because of its natural resources – untapped. Also, China will need access of markets in other part of world. Karakoram highway is already open to China. China will need to build fast goods trains from Karachi, Gwadar and Pasni to Karakoram. It will also require the land transport to be safe and secure. By 2022 China has to achieve that. Their Superpower design is at stake. This has become the CPEC today.
Pakistan is a failing. Living under drones 24×7 has made many Pak-Afghan areas border residents anti-US. The people also may be shifting towards Chinese, thinking of China to be their long-term savior. With Pakistan completely under China, it will be very difficult for India to be of consequence in the new “Chinese world”. With India curtailed, China will pursue its world dominance economically and otherwise. If Pakistan does not go to China, it is but a matter of few years that Pakistan will be divided into 3 or 4 independent countries. These countries may fight with each other. This will not allow China to access the sea-routes to the world at large. Deng’s algorithm for China does not allow Pakistan to get away from Chinese hands. China is slowly, steadily and systematically getting ready to do a “Tibet” on Pakistan. However, this time, China is pursuing the mission with great patience. The 2013 Xi algorithm of one road one belt – the revival of silk route – requires capitulation, subjugation and control of Pakistan.
Impact on India
Pakistan was created as “non-India”. Non-India is an identity that Pakistan would like to preserve. However, that identity is in grave danger from multiple dimensions – the greatest dimension being the China’s superpower quest and design as reflected in Dragons tsunami of Twin Silk Roads. India needs to fight it out in multiple ways. China taking over Pakistan is order of magnitude more dangerous for us compared to Tibet overtaken by China in 1950s. Today, Hindus from Pakistan are seeking asylum in India. From 2017 onwards, there will start a trickle of Pakistanis Muslims – in India – they would be terrorized by Talibans and then controlled by China – hence they would be forced to run away. Indian culture, language and even mannerisms are similar and Pakistanis will be more than happy to be assimilated in India. However, China, having taken up control of Pakistan, will not stop at that. China will start looking at Arunachal Pradesh and eastern parts of India as well. This will be a very dangerous scenario for India.
Options for India
Assimilate Pakistan in India by force – most readers will laugh at this suggestion. However, this thought has been proposed by press council of India’s Chairman, Mr. Katju. I am not sure about his drivers, however, instead of letting China take over Pakistan just like we allowed in Tibet, uniting Pakistan with India is a rather more promising option. However, the “how” to do it, is the key question. Second, do we have sufficient national willpower to execute this?
Should we join US in China containment? Should we become the new frontline state of US, just like Pakistan became against soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Of course, we may not become, but some element of cooperation with US and rest of the world powers in not letting China get Pakistan needs to be thought through. Diplomacy, military power and economic factors need to be analyzed and a holistic response needs to be created. US policy makers consider Pakistan to be one of the major pivots for their control of middle-east, Russia and perhaps China as well. Pakistan plays the dual role to the perfection. The aid of 860 Million USD announced by Obama administration and approval of 8 Block 52 F-16s sale for USD 700 Millions, clearly indicate how US views its interests – which continues to be Pakistan aligned.
Do nothing. Let us react to this when it happens. Our views since 2011 have been that this is a highly unlikely scenario – we will see when it happens. However, in this case, waiting for the crisis to happen may not be a correct measure. Remember, India’s very existence may be at stake. Crisis avoidance is better than disaster management. Crisis leads to disasters. If we can see the crisis, a crisis avoidance blueprint needs to be created and executed.
An Indian blueprint is needed. Traditionally India has been a reactive power. Perhaps time has come to create a National holistic response based on Indian National Interests, as this time disaster will be extremely costly.