Sunday, 27 November 2016
The transformation of Gwadar port as a base for Chinese Navy ships was long expected, but when media reports actually appeared on Friday to that effect, it was startling news for India.
The reports quoted Pakistani officials saying that China proposes to deploy its naval ships in coordination with the Pakistan Navy to safeguard Gwadar port, which is the gateway to the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
India would have had some intelligence tip-off, which probably explains the mysterious episode on November 14 of an Indian submarine lurking in the vicinity of Pakistani territorial waters. It was brusquely shooed away by the Pakistan Navy.
Of course, the corridor was operationalised a fortnight ago with Chinese shipsdocking at Gwadar to carry the first containers brought by a Chinese trade convoy from Xinjiang for despatch to the world market.
Viewed from many perspectives, the month of November becomes a defining moment in the geopolitics of our region.
But the strangest bit of news would be that earlier this month, Gwadar also received Russia’s Federal Security Services chief Alexander Bogdanov.
It was a hush-hush inspection tour aimed at assessing the efficacy of Russian ships using the port during their long voyages, to assert Moscow’s return to the global stage.
Equally, this is the first visit by a Russian spy chief to Pakistan in over two decades and it took place just as America elected a new president, Donald Trump.
Maybe the timing is coincidental, but more likely, it is not. The Russian diplomacy invariably moves in lockstep.
Bogdanov’s visit was scheduled just a few weeks before the planned trilateral strategic dialogue between Russia, China and Pakistan, ostensibly regarding the Afghan situation, in Moscow next month.
Bogdanov reportedly sought a formal Russian-Pakistani collaborative tie-up over the CPEC.
Moscow wouldn’t have made such a move without coordinating with China first.
At a meeting in Moscow with his Chinese counterpart, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying that China-Russia military cooperation is “at an all-time high and it will contribute to peace and stability on the Eurasian continent and beyond.”
China’s regional play
Meanwhile, Chinese regional diplomacy, too, is moving in tandem.
The Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wangquan (who is also vice-chairman of China’s Military Commission, which is headed by President Xi Jinping) paid a three-day visit to Iran last week.
Chang’s visit held considerable geopolitical significance for the region and he described his meetings as signifying a turning point in the China-Iran strategic partnership.
It is useful to recall that during Xi’s visit to Iran in January, the two countries had signed a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement that included a call for much closer defence and intelligence ties.
The Iranian Navy has not hidden its desire to become a major blue water power (one capable of sustained operations across open oceans) in the Indian Ocean, and China can help meet that goal by offering intelligence and training in the short term, and modern vessels and weapons systems down the road.
Several existing Chinese systems would suit Iran’s need for a flexible navy capable of operating in both littoral (on shore) and blue waters – such as destroyers, corvettes, frigates, the much-vaunted Type-022 stealth fast-attack missile catamarans (described as carrier killers) and submarines.
These cost-effective warships could enable Iran to perform more effective patrol missions at longer ranges for longer periods of time.
Simply put, there is much background to Iran’s desire to become part of the CPEC, which was reportedly conveyed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at their meeting in New York in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
Connecting all these dots, in geopolitical terms, what we are witnessing is a historic shift in regional alignments, which is bringing together China, Pakistan, Russia and Iran on the template of the CPEC.
From the Indian perspective, these developments hold profound implications, especially against the backdrop of the unravelling of the United States’ pivot strategy in the Asia-Pacific.
Some hard conclusions need to be made. Difficult decisions lie ahead for the Indian establishment.
Quite obviously, India has been tilting at the CPEC windmills in vain, fancying its capacity to block the flagship of China’s One Belt One Road appearing in its north-western neighbourhood.
As an open, inclusive and international cooperative initiative, the corridor merits a rethink on India's part.
The point is, China still regards India to be one of the key countries along the Belt and Road, although the Silk Road initiatives have already stimulated regional connectivity in the South Asian region, involving Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in one way or another.
Two, the rebuff at the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in Goa in October apart, the growing regional convergence over the CPEC once again highlights the futility of India's diplomatic efforts to isolate Pakistan as a 'state sponsor of terrorism'.
New thinking is needed to bring pressure on Pakistan to jettison what India calls its sponsorship of terrorist groups.
The foreign policy establishment should explore how membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation a six-nation Eurasian bloc led by China and Russia to promote political, economic and cultural cooperation in the region can be optimally utilised to (re)engage Pakistan.
If China could effectively utilise this organisation to clear the huge backlog of Soviet-era regional animosities, India too can create similar synergy between its regional diplomacy and the bilateral ties with Pakistan.
Three, the manifest China-Pakistan-Russia-Iran regional convergence highlights the geopolitical realities of the emergent world order.
Put differently, India's fracas with China over membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and efforts to declare Jaish-i-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a terrorist have been, in reality, the symptom of a deeper malaise insofar as Indian strategists are still entrapped in their “unipolar predicament”.
Thus, the muscular diplomacy of the Narendra Modi government erred in its overestimation of India’s South China Sea leverage. India lacked traditional influence in that region and it is not even a claimant to the territorial disputes there.
Today, therefore, India's Look East policy is in shambles and a US retrenchment in Asia threatens to make it archaic.
When Singapore snubs our overture to create new waves in the South China Sea, a nadir has been reached.
However, India seems to opt for a repackaging of the Look East policy. It is getting embroiled in China-Japan tensions. Such naivety can turn out to be dangerous.
The recent developments concerning Gwadar underscore the crucial importance of addressing the distrust between India and China on the one hand and India and Pakistan on the other.
Or else, serious contradictions are bound to arise in India’s relations with a host of other Asian countries as well – our time-tested friend Russia included.
Saturday, 26 November 2016
New Chief, new start and may be a new agenda
Dr Shabir Choudhry 26 November 2016
The elected Sharif is here to stay; and the Sharif which had to go has gone. He is history now. However, he may be back in a new role after 2 years, especially if Nawaz Sharif continues to rule the country.
Foot soldiers and opportunists, who are always available to flatter every army Chief, and present him as a Messiah should not feel disappointed because the new Chief would also need their services. You can start preparing new slogans and new songs for the new Chief.
In December people will start writing about what Raheel Sharif did not do, or what wrong he did. Already I have come across with some articles analysing his performance. I expect many more articles in near future.
Most people admire Raheel Sharif for not doing what he was not supposed to do – overthrow an elected government. He was urged to do it by some opportunist politicians. He may have had some pressure from his colleagues to step in and ‘save’ the country. As a professional soldier he resisted the temptation to topple the government. This decision was good for him, good for government and good for Pakistan.
He did not topple the government but he ‘generously’ took away some more powers from Nawaz Sharif who was elected to rule Pakistan. When Nawaz Sharif comprehended that his government was in danger, he let the other Sharif to encroach more powers, especially in domains of security, foreign policy and defence; and his endeavours from then onwards were to save his throne rather than facing the lion.
The Sharif in uniform ensured that the civilian Sharif understood clearly that ‘bloody civilians’ could not point fingers at the officers in uniform, as the most powerful institution was there to protect them.
Nawaz Sharif wanted to punish General Musharaf for treason; but he ended up getting hundreds of civilians tried by military and hanged for treason.
However, he could be rightly complimented for taking a brave decision of starting a military campaign in North Wazirstan. His predecessor, despite advice and urgent need to take military action hesitated to take any action, because of reprisals; and may be because of fear that he won’t succeed.
Nevertheless, it is sad to note that Raheel Sharif could not finish the job. It is job half done, terrorism has come down; and terrorists are on the run, but they are not defeated. It is case of glass half full or half empty. Various officers and leaders have claimed on number of occasions that they have broken backbone of terrorists. Fact is the terrorists have been striking back effectively even with the ‘broken back’.
Many experts believe that they took a long time to take action against terrorists. When decision was taken, it still gave sufficient time to terrorists to move out to other safe areas.
Apart from that not all terrorist groups were targeted. Only those terrorists were targeted which became ‘disobedient’; and were keen to attack Pakistan and Pakistani interests. Those ‘good boys’ or ‘good terrorists’ are still safe and enjoying the patronage. Then question arises, was it a war against terrorism; or a war against some bad boys who disobeyed the ‘parents’ or the ‘parent body’.
Syeda Mamoona Rubab writes on the topic:
The results are in front of us and some of those entities are emerging with greater virulence after ganging up with external terrorist organizations. Whether the local extremist groups were left untouched for some tactical reason or they did not fit the criteria adopted for those operations, it was a deadly mistake to not go after them. This could blow apart whatever legacy Gen. Raheel had been trying to build for himself. 1
This selective fight or half hearted war against terrorism cannot and will not end terrorism. Roots or sources of terrorism are still there; and those who promote hatred, extremism and violence are still highly respected in the society. Moreover the International scepticism on Pakistan’s sincerity to root out terrorism is seriously questioned.
General Raheel Sharif was army Chief as well as an ‘unofficial Foreign Minister’. We need to analyse what he has left behind. Apart from the unfinished war on terrorism he has left the following:
1. General Ashfaq Kayani thought Pakistan had internal threats rather than external threats. He and his predecessor, despite Kargil fiasco thought gun was not the way forward and wanted to have peace with India.
In pursuant with that policy and because of his own aspirations Nawaz Sharif wanted to have closer ties with India and also wanted to grant India most favoured nation status.
2. General Sharif did not like that; and during his time we have seen more trouble on LOC and on the Working Boundary. We people of Jammu and Kashmir had fewer problems and less suffering and fewer dead bodies and injuries during six years of General Ashfaq Kayani’s ‘rule’ than during three years of General Sharif’s ‘rule’. Once again relationship with India is at its lowest ebb and fast deteriorating.
Trolls and hate mongers will accuse me of being Pro India, as they expect everyone to blame India for all wrong doings. Of course India is also responsible for many wrong things, but here we are not analysing role of India. People of Jammu and Kashmir have suffered immensely; and people are beginning to understand negative role of Pakistan bit better now. Many people now say both India and Pakistan have colluded to teach people of Jammu and Kashmir a lesson that they forget talking about independence; and accept the status quo.
3. Relationship with Iran has also suffered a serious setback, especially during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Pakistan. In a way, Iran was accused of ‘facilitating’ Indian spies, it was undiplomatic response to broadcast it so loudly during the State visit of a friendly neighbour.
4. Similarly relationship with Afghanistan is not so cordial; and policy of strategic depth is a thing of the past now. Both Iran and Afghanistan are closer to India than to Pakistan.
5. Also Bangladesh, former East Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia don’t have friendly relations with Pakistan. They have better relations with India than Pakistan.
6. America hoped that General Raheel Sharif was the man to do what other Generals could not do or did not want to do. During his first visit to Washington in 2014, General Raheel Sharif was awarded the US Legion of Merit. His second visit to the US was in 2015, which interestingly took place a month after PM Nawaz Sharif’s visit; and in which he was treated as a special guest, almost like a Head of State of an important country. They regarded him as a “dependable partner” and “honest broker”. However, to put it mildly, relationship with the US is not as cordial as it was some years ago. It won’t be right to put blame at the door of General Raheel Sharif.
7. Relationship with Russia has improved, but analysts wonder what is there for Pakistan in future; and if Russia has forgotten what role Pakistan played in downfall of Russian?
8. During General Raheel Sharif’s term, tens of thousands of Chinese armed personnel are also stationed in various places of Pakistan, Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistani Administered Kashmir. Is that not a compromise on sovereignty of Pakistan? Is Pakistan not able to defend issue related to the CPEC and the Chinese workers, or the Chinese lack trust in them? Moreover, how this will affect Pakistan in future?
9. Situation in Karachi is far from satisfactory. If agenda was to tame MQM then they have made some progress; but as far as rooting out corruption and terrorism is concerned, they have not completed the agenda. Splitting MQM may appear a success but it will create more problems in Karachi in near future.
10. Situation in Balochistan has improved but is far from satisfactory. Rebels and dissidents will continue to challenge writ of the State and endanger CPEC projects
11. Terrorists and extremists in other areas have not faced wrath of the army; and many analysts wonder why? Won’t these extremists, hate mongers and terrorists create problems in future?
In conclusion, in my opinion, despite huge publicity and hullabaloo, gains are fewer than the problems he has left; as he is leaving behind many unfinished important tasks. His successor Lt General Qamar Javed Bajwa has a lot on his plate. He will have to work hard to complete the unfinished tasks.
New army Chief will surely have his own ideas. After settling down in the job he may think that he cannot be a successful Chief if he continues his journey with all of the baggage left behind. He may prioritise things, change strategies or abandon some of the tasks.
1. Syeda Mamoona Rubab, The Friday Times, 25 November 2016
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Chairman South Asia Watch; Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Why The Sino Indian Great Game Extends To Iran – Analysis
BY ANITA INDER SINGH MARCH 23, 2016
Twenty-first century India and China are looking beyond their disputed state frontiers and competing to build road and rail links, or oil and gas pipelines, in foreign countries, and to keep a watchful eye on international sea routes. The lifting of international sanctions against Iran last January raised the curtain over the complex and expanding Sino-Indian great game in Asia.
Home to the world’s second largest gas reserves and one seventh of its oil, Iran, a West Asian power with a population of 80 million, has much to offer energy-hungry India and China. As it recovers from the adverse effects of several years of American-led economic sanctions, Iran welcomes foreign investment, technological support and infrastructure upgrades from India and China to sustain its economic revival.
Why is India thinking west – to Iran?
To counter its archrival China economically and politically, India is already “Acting East” by strengthening economic and defense ties with East Asian countries. A more recent concept, as S. Jaishankar, India’s Foreign Secretary, told a conference in New Delhi in early March, is that of “Thinking West.” ‘Normalization of the situation in Iran is particularly welcome’, he said. That underlined the construction by India of the Chabahar port in south-eastern Iran and strengthening trading ties with Iran.
The significance of the Chabahar project should not be underestimated, for India has not started any comparable ventures in Southeast Asia. Sino-Indian competition in the Arabian Sea has sharpened since 2013, when Pakistan gave China control over Gwadar port. China now has a permanent presence in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf and can monitor Indian and American maritime and naval activity in those international waters.
While India intends to use Chabahar primarily for commercial purposes its interest in constructing the port mirrors its wish to counter China’s strategic vantage point in Gwadar.
Chabahar and Gwadar now symbolize the Sino-Indian rivalry in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.
Wanting to increase Iranian energy imports and involved with several projects in Iran, India hopes to make Chabahar fully operative by the end of this year. In May 2015 India and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding for India to construct the strategically important port which would pave the way for India to gain access by land and sea to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Wanting to increase Iranian energy imports and involved with several projects in Iran, India hopes to make Chabahar fully operative by the end of this year. In May 2015 India and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding for India to construct the strategically important port which would pave the way for India to gain access by land and sea to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
India’s development of Chabahar suits Iran. Tehran’s fears that China’s Gwadar project would weaken Iran’s position as the entrance to Central Asia prompted it to develop Chabahar with India’s help.
The interest in Iranian energy shows why India accords great importance to economic and strategic connectivity. The fully functional Chabahar port would help New Delhi to ignore Islamabad’s refusal to grant India and Afghanistan transit facilities through Pakistan. This absence of transit rights is the main barrier to India’s trade, energy flows and economic ties with Afghanistan and Iran – and more generally to West and Central Asia. To cross this barrier India wants to build a road running from Chabahar via Afghanistan to Central Asia. This Iran-Afghanistan route could help India to improve access to energy-rich Central Asian countries.
Eventually India envisages that Chabahar could be linked through rail and road networks to the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a multinational project started in 2000 by India, Iran and Russia. But the INSTC needs to be developed if it is to fulfill New Delhi’s hope that it will become the shortest and most economical route from India through Iran and Afghanistan to Central Asia and Europe. Transport costs and freight time from India to Central Asia could be cut by about a third via Chabahar. The port would also provide India with a transit route to Afghanistan. And it would give landlocked Afghanistan an outlet to the sea – an outcome that is favored by the U.S., which was once determined to isolate Iran. India sees its Chabahar project as a potential game changer in West and Central Asia, running parallel to China’s East-West Silk Road.
But China has a head start in Iran. Unlike India, China defied US nuclear sanctions on Iran and bought nearly half of its oil exports. Beijing’s courtship of Tehran saved Iran from international pariah status. That courtship enabled Chinese firms to occupy the space vacated by Western companies that had grown nervous about international pressure on Tehran. China gained uncontested access to Iran’s energy resources.
So when the US and other permanent members of the UN Security Council reached, in April 2015, a preliminary agreement to end sanctions on Iran, China was Iran’s largest trading partner. Bilateral Sino-Iranian trade stood at around $ 50 billion. In contrast, trade between Iran and India amounted to a mere $ 13.13 billion in 2014-15.
India faces tough competition from China in Iran. Beijing’s offer to Tehran last November to develop Chabahar – six months after the signing of the Indo-Iranian MOU – shows that China remains keen to outflank India in Iran.
China’s construction of the economic corridor (CPEC) with its ally Pakistan is one reflection of its wish to enhance its strategic and economic competitiveness in Iran. That worries India, partly because CPEC passes through the contested territory of Pakistani Kashmir, which was the launch pad for recent Chinese intrusions into Indian territory. China has invested $ 46 billion in CPEC. Some of this money is being used to build a new pipeline which starts from the South Pars gas field in Iran. When completed, this pipeline would extend to Multan in Pakistan. The pipeline could help Pakistan to reduce its crippling energy shortages. Most of the 1172 km-long pipeline will run through Iran, which has already completed the pipeline on its side of the border with Pakistan. The Pakistani section of the pipeline remains to be built– so China’s investment in the pipeline will enhance its prestige in Tehran. For Iran is interested in extending this pipeline to China.
India faces an uphill climb as it tries to outmaneuver China in Iran. But India’s determination to upgrade ties with Iran and develop Chabahar with a view to strengthening its ties/connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries highlights the expanding parameters of the Sino-Indian great game in the rest of Asia.
India’s Nuclear Doctrine - Time For A Review? – By Gurmeet Kanwal*
BY IPCS NOVEMBER 22, 2016
The fragile security environment in Southern Asia is marked by territorial disputes and radical extremism, among other threats and challenges to peace and stability. The security environment has been further vitiated by the proxy war being waged against India (and against Afghanistan) by the Pakistan army and the ISI – the ‘deep state’ – through terrorist organisations like the LeT and the JeM.
While the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks at Mumbai in November 2008 are still to be brought to justice by the authorities in Pakistan, recent terrorist attacks in India have occurred at Gurdaspur, Udhampur, Pathankot, Pampore and Uri. India’s patience had worn thin and the public outcry to punish Pakistan was growing by the day when the Indian army launched surgical strikes across the LoC in September 2016.
In case there is a major terrorist strike in India (on a politically sensitive target, with damage to critical infrastructure and large-scale casualties) with credible evidence of state sponsorship from Pakistan, the Indian government will have no option but to retaliate militarily. Though the Indian response will be carefully calibrated, any military retaliation runs the risk of escalation to a larger conflict with nuclear overtones.
Most Indian analysts believe that there is space for conventional conflict below the nuclear threshold as long as care is taken to avoid crossing Pakistan’s nuclear red lines (space, military, economic and political). Pakistani analysts aver that Pakistan has a low nuclear threshold and that Indian forces ingressing into Pakistani territory will be confronted with tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) to stop their advance and force them to retreat.
It must be noted that the term ‘TNW’ is used in a colloquial sense as it is widely in use. There is no such thing as the ‘tactical’ use of nuclear weapons; their impact is strategic and their consequences are likely to be geo-strategic. Perhaps the term ‘battlefield’ use of nuclear weapons would be preferable.
Pakistan has been developing what it calls ‘full spectrum deterrence’ from the strategic to the tactical, from IRBMs (Shaheen 1, 2 and 3) and nuclear glide bombs delivered by fighter-bomber aircraft, cruise missiles (Babar and Ra’ad) to surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) launched from surface ships. The 60 km range, Hatf-9, Nasr SRBM is claimed to be tipped with a TNW.
India’s ‘credible minimum deterrence’ nuclear doctrine professing a ‘no first use’ posture is predicated on massive retaliation to a nuclear first strike. While the doctrine suffices to deter a first strike on Indian cities due to the certainty of massive retaliation, its efficacy in a contingency resulting in the use of TNWs against Indian troops on Pakistani territory needs to be debated.
After the Pokhran tests of May 1998, a draft nuclear doctrine was prepared by the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) headed by K Subrahmanyam. It was handed over to the government on 17 August 1999. The draft doctrine was debated within the government by various stakeholders. After several meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the government issued a statement on 4 January 2003, spelling out India’s nuclear doctrine and expressing satisfaction with the operationalisation of its nuclear deterrent. The government statement included the following salient features:
- India will build and maintain a credible minimum deterrent; follow a No First Use posture; and, will use nuclear weapons only “in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere”
- It was also affirmed that nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage
- Retaliatory attacks will be authorised only by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority
- Nuclear weapons will not be used against non-nuclear weapon states
- India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons in the event of a major attack against it with biological or chemical weapons
- Continuance of strict controls on export of nuclear and missile-related materials and technologies, participation in FMCT negotiations, continued moratorium on nuclear testing
- Continued commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory disarmament.
In the decade and a half since the nuclear doctrine was unveiled by the government, several organisations and individuals have commented on it. Some of them have been critical of the NFU posture. Among them, Bharat Karnad (author of Nuclear Weapons and India’s Security, Macmillan, 2004) has consistently questioned the NFU posture. He has written: “NFU may be useful as political rhetoric and make for stability in situations short of war. But as a serious war-planning predicate, it is a liability. NFU is not in the least credible, because it requires India to first absorb a nuclear attack before responding in kind.”
Former PM Manmohan Singh, while speaking at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, on 2 April 2014, called for a global ‘no first use’ norm. He said, “States possessing nuclear weapons… [must] quickly move to the establishment of a global no-first-use norm…” This was followed by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) promising in its election manifesto to review India’s nuclear doctrine to “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times…” and to “maintain a credible minimum deterrent that is in tune with changing geostrategic realities.” Some BJP leaders hinted that the NFU posture would also be reviewed. However, sensing the international criticism that was bound to follow, Narendra Modi, BJP’s PM candidate, emphasised that there would be ‘no compromise’ on no first use. Regardless of election-time rhetoric, it is necessary that important government policies must be reviewed periodically with a view to examining and re-validating their key features.
Criticism of the nuclear doctrine has mainly been centred on the following key issues:
- The NFU posture is likely to result in unacceptably high initial casualties and damage to Indian cities and infrastructure;
- The threat of ‘massive’ retaliation lacks credibility, especially in retaliation to first use of TNWs against Indian forces on the adversary’s own territory;
- Nuclear retaliation for a chemical or biological attack would be illogical, as such attacks could be launched by non-state actors with or without state support;
- And, it would be difficult to determine what constitutes a ‘major’ chemical or biological strike.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said recently that he wondered whether India’s nuclear doctrine should be constrained by a no first use posture. He mentioned the advantages of unpredictability and said, “If a written strategy exists…you are giving away your strength. Why should India bind itself [to no first use]? India is a responsible nuclear power and…[it should suffice to say that] we will not use nuclear weapons irresponsibly.”
The essence of the Defence Minister’s introspection was that ambiguity enhances deterrence. This view has been expressed by several nuclear strategists. However, he emphasised several times that there was no change in India’s nuclear doctrine and that he was expressing a personal view. While he has been criticised, there can be no doubt that fresh thinking is invaluable to the discourse on the subject.
As almost fourteen years have passed since the doctrine was first enunciated, in the debate that followed the Defence Minister’s comments on no first use, several analysts have suggested that the nuclear doctrine needs to be reviewed. In fact, a review should be carried out every five years. The government should initiate the process to review the nuclear doctrine, but the review should not be confined to official circles only. It should include a wider debate with participation by think-tanks and individual analysts. Each facet pertaining to the doctrine must be discussed.
Distinguished Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi
Sunday, 20 November 2016
CPEC - Boon or Bane for Pakistan, By Hanan Zaffar
The Diplomat November 16, 2016
A look at the hopes and fears surrounding the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a massive $46 billion bilateral developmental project between Pakistan and China, is supposed to be a “game changer” in the geopolitics of South Asia. This economic corridor aims to connect Kashgar in the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan through a vast and complex network of roads measuring 3,000 km as well as other infrastructure projects. On paper the CPEC, intended to be completed by 2030, is a win-win for both countries. China will save millions of dollars every year by shortening its route for energy imports from the Middle East by about 12,000 km and also gets greater access to the Indian Ocean. On the other hand, Pakistan expects infrastructural enhancement and the reduction, or even elimination, of its severe energy crisis by getting in return an estimated $34 billion for various hydro, solar, thermal, and wind-driven power plants.
The keenness of Iran, Russia, and Saudi Arabia to be a part of CPEC in the future has added to the mystique of the already highly hyped economic corridor. Astonishingly, the least-publicized aspect of the agreement is a deal for eight submarines to be supplied by China to Pakistan, which considerably elevates Pakistan’s naval military strength.
Chinese interests in Pakistan are not only economically driven. A fully operational Gwadar port not only provides China with lucrative commercial benefits but also huge strategic and geopolitical advantages. Although at present Gwadar is being developed for commercial purposes only, there are huge chances for it to develop into a well-equipped military naval base in the future, which would provide China an enormous strategic advantage in the region. As Pakistan is currently suffering from the worst kind of extremism, terrorism, and rampant corruption, it not only intends to benefit economically from the project but also improve its world image under the patronage of China.
However, Pakistan must balance the expected benefits of CPEC with the potential negative outcomes.
Economic and Infrastructural Enhancement
CPEC offers Pakistan an excellent opportunity to upgrade the basic infrastructure of all provinces as the corridor essentially passes through the whole of Pakistan. New roads, highways, railways, airports, and seaports are to be built and developed according to the blueprint of this ambitious project. Provinces like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which lag far behind Punjab in terms of development, are expected to get an infrastructural boost. In addition, a fully functional corridor promises huge employment opportunities to all sections of society. Proposed Chinese investments are supposed to increase Pakistan’s $274 billion GDP by over 15 percent.
Overcoming the Energy Crisis
Pakistan’s stagnant economy has been a direct corollary of the endemic energy crisis. The country badly fails to meet its energy demands and this long unsolved problem shaves about 2 percent off GDP. Keeping this in view, CPEC will see different power projects totaling 10,500 MW completed on a fast-track basis through 2018. The energy aspect has been termed the biggest breakthrough of the project. In one plan of particular note, 10 projects of 6,600 MW are to be developed in the Thar desert, which has the potential to transform this highly remote area into Pakistan’s energy capital.
Freedom From Over-reliance on the United States
Pakistan’s over-reliance on the United States for strategic and financial purpose has not served the country well. Despite being a close ally, Pakistan’s relationship with the United States has hardly been what can be termed as “cordial.” The general public in Pakistan feels betrayed by the chameleon attitude Washington has shown toward them. The views are shared among political circles too. CPEC provides Pakistan an opportunity to work closely with seemingly a more reliable friend, China, independent of Western influence.
However, despite the fact that CPEC provides Pakistan a huge economic opening, there are apprehensions regarding the efficiency and economic feasibility of the project. Moreover Pakistan faces various internal and external political challenges which may hamper the progress of CPEC.
Threat to Sovereignty?
Strangely, the most ignored aspect of the CPEC is the presence of thousands of Chinese security personnel in Pakistan, which have been deployed to provide security to Chinese workers, officials, and engineers (in addition to the security provided by Pakistan). The presence of foreign soldiers in such huge numbers should be a cause of concern for the Pakistani establishment, keeping in mind the alleged neo-imperialistic endeavors of China, especially in Afghanistan. Furthermore many in Pakistan worry about the project being used by China to exploit Pakistan’s vast natural resources, especially in Balochistan, in the guise of developmental assistance.
Balochistan Insurgency and Internal Conflicts.
Gwadar port in Balochistan holds the key to the success of the corridor and Pakistan’s ambition of becoming an economic stalwart in the region. However, increasing calls in Balochistan for a separate state and the ensuing armed conflict pose an enormous challenge to the corridor. Baloch nationalists oppose CPEC, as it could potentially turn the demographic balance of the region against them. Many people from other provinces of Pakistan could move to Balochistan and settle there, if the corridor does become a success. Various Baloch rebel groups have already attacked Chinese engineers and officials working on different CPEC projects.
Many banned terrorist organizations also pose a threat to the project as they seek ways to settle scores with the Pakistani state. Plus, numerous political organizations from provinces like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have voiced concerns over changing the original plan of the corridor, which allegedly diverts the economic benefits to Punjab province only. To add to the woes, Pakistan’s strong military establishment also feels that it has a little say in the project.
Ceaseless bad blood between India and Pakistan has led to the ever-present sense of precariousness and instability in the entire region. As the corridor passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, which India claims to be its own integral and indispensable territory, illegally held by Pakistan, New Delhi has openly opposed CPEC. Pakistan has continuously accused India of conspiring to disrupt the project by fueling the Baloch insurgency, a claim vehemently contested by Indian state. Unhealthy Indo-Pak relations cast shadows over the prospects of a peaceful and stable South Asia.
A prosperous South Asia is possible only if both these militarily powerful countries shun their ugly, stagnant political positions and work closely with each other. CPEC being transformed into ICPEC by connecting it with Indian Punjab may be the first step in this direction. However, this seems a mere fantasy in the present context.
Hanan Zaffar is assistant editor with weekly Heaven Times and a citizen journalist with Daily Uqaab. Currently pursuing B.tech from National Institute of Technology Srinagar, he has written extensively on the Kashmir conflict, social issues, and sports.