KPS Gill on the core issue of Pakistan
October 20, 2006
An excellent short article by KPS Gill, thanks to a pointer from Ghostwriter. http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/kpsgill/2003/chapter1.htm
This summarizes a hard-nosed Indian perspective on why there can never be peace with a State that thrives on nuclear blackmail. There is something intriguing, though. All that Gill says is evident even to a lay-person. Why is this not visible to the US State Department? The only plausible answer is that they are wilfully shutting their eyes to Pakistani adventurism. There are several reasons I can think of: a) greed for Central Asian oil and gas and the belief that Pakistan will enable the US to steal a march on others coveting the same, such as Russia, China and Iran; b) a balance-of-power approach whereby they wish to use India to counter China, and Pakistan to counter India; c) traditional American comfort with brutal dictactorships rather than with messy democracies.
But these are flawed approaches. On the Great Game in Central Asia, Pakistan only grudgingly follows the American agenda, and in fact are playing China and the US off against each other. Consider: China gives Pakistan nuclear weapons, and via North Korea, missiles capable of delivering them. The US gives Pakistan large amounts of conventional weapons. Who is Pakistan going to be more grateful to? China, obviously, because the nukes are the basis of Pakistan’s regional bargaining power. The US weapons are merely for use against India and their restive Baluchis.
By constraining India so much and allowing China to follow a containment strategy, eventually China will dominate Asia, much to the chagrin of the US. If India were to develop a massive retaliation capability against China, that would deter China from adventurism, and would help ASEAN and others to have a counterbalance to Chinese interests. In other words, by propping up Pakistan, the US is playing into the hands of China, its most obvious long-term enemy.
The issue of American comfort with brutal dictatorships is based on short-termism. It has never helped the US; in fact it is like riding a tiger. Eventually they have to overthrow the dictator at some cost to themselves. For Pakistan, the cost is both in Iraq and in Afghanistan and in the entrenched sleeper cells in the US itself, all of which will result in large-scale loss of American lives and treasure.
Pakistan is America’s Frankenstein. Much as the Americans think they are controlling Pakistan and Musharraf, the truth is the opposite: the Pakistanis are winning the cynical game of strategic poker.
Incidentally, I have just received a review copy of Brahma Chellaney’s new book ‘Asian Juggernaut’ about India, China and Japan. I am not as optimistic about an Indo-Japanese alliance as it appears Brahma may be, but that is an inevitability, and that will certainly be a fallout of the cynical and ruthless Chinese imperialism in Asia. Brahma says something truly intriguing: that there are more Maoists in India than in China today. This may well be true. Chinese only pay lip service to Mao, and mostly use him for missionary and conversion purposes (as is usual with deified icons anywhere).