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China-Pakistan Armies working in Tandem Against India?

Posted by yourpakistan on February 10, 2011

2011-02-08 (China Military News cited from — The news from Pakistan is disheartening. Salman Taseer’s assassination haunts the nation. When in trouble, Pakistan reverts to its Pavlovian anti-Indian rhetoric. It has blocked negotiations on a fissile materials cut-off treaty in Geneva, arguing that ceasing fissile materials production would concede a ‘strategic advantage’ to India.

Moreover, the US has pledged to assist India get admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group, and the Waasenaar Arrangement.

Pakistan has claimed this represents a ‘paradigm shift in strategic terms’; it is now seeking to revive the debate on the Indo-US nuclear deal that was finalised in 2008. The previous Bush administration had hammered this nuclear deal through the US Congress, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the NSG, despite doubts in some countries, collectively termed the White Knights.

Pakistan is essentially see-king a similar dispensation for itself, and China has moved in to consolidate its cooperative and strategic alliance with Pakistan. China played an astute role when the Indo-US nuclear deal was negotiated. It assured India and the US that it would not obstruct a consensus being reached in the NSG but encouraged the White Knights to continue their opposition. It also voiced its right to offer a nuclear deal to Pakistan, which is currently being negotiated. The transfer of two more nuclear reactors by China to Pakistan is under process, adding to the two 300MW nuclear reactors already supplied.

This transfer has been opposed by the US on the legal premise that they amount to a new agreement, which must be cleared by the NSG, as was done in the case of the Indo-US nuclear deal. China is fudging this issue because it fears that its proposal would be rejected by the NSG considering the horrendous proliferation record of both Pakistan and China.

The Sino-Pak nuclear cooperation is not just a convergence of their strategic interests, but also from a convergence of their political systems. Pakistan’s civilian leadership is of little consequence. The real power vests in Pakistan’s army working closely with its intelligence wing, the ISI. The situation in China is similar. The Chinese leadership controls the commanding heights of its politics through the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which is the military not of the nation but of the Chinese communist party’s military.

India would be concerned if its military were to become politicised; the Chinese leadership would be concerned if the PLA were to get depoliticised. The question then arises: Is the Pakistan army and the PLA coordinating their moves against India? WikiLeaks informed us that the US is concerned with Pakistan feverishly augmenting its inventory of nuclear weapons and fissile materials.

Over the last few months, the PLA has been aggressively patrolling along the Sino-Indian border, and has established a major presence in Pakistan’s Northern Territories/ Baltistan region —ostensibly to improve the Karakoram Highway connecting China to Karachi. A power struggle is occurring in China as it transits to a new generation of leaders. Does this bespeak an ascendancy of the PLA in China?

The conclusion cannot, therefore, be avoided that a dialogue with Pakistan at present is meaningless. A dialogue with China has some utility in resolving trade-related problems and discussing national positions on global issues. But, the value of this dialogue cannot be exaggerated. Nor will it deflect China from pursuing its national self-interests by promoting Pak’s intransigence towards India.

A strategic choice is available now to both the US and India. Is the US willing to reshape the contours of the 21st century by deepening its relations with India and checkmating China’s assertive rise in the Asian security architecture? Is India willing to exercise a similar choice? Should both countries expend their diplomatic energies in bolstering a failing Pakistan or let it fade away?

Also, following the inevitable withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, what would be the relevance of Pakistan? Should it be left to ‘manage’ an intractable, imploding Afghanistan, perhaps with the assistance of China?

The obvious counter-argument would be that relations within the quadrangular relationship of the US, China, India and Pakistan should not be seen in binary terms. In a multilateral, multimodal world, pragmatism dictates that cordial relations be maintained between all major centres of world power. This is unexceptional wisdom. But one can easily discern that the core relationship that best serves India’s national interests. During the Cold War it was the Soviet Union. Could it now be the United States?


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