By Sajjad Shaukat
During his trip to Beijing, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang signed eight agreements on July 5, this year in various fields, which will pave the way for inflow of multi-billion dollar Chinese investment in Pakistan, strengthening their relationship which is time-testing.
One of the most important accords signed in the presence of the two prime ministers envisages the establishment of an Economic Corridor between deep Gwadar seaport of Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang of China, connecting to Gilgit-Baltistan through the 15,397 feet altitude Khunjerab Pass.
The ambitious Pakistan-China Economic Corridor plan involves an estimated cost of 18 billion dollars, requiring construction of a string of tunnels in the mountainous terrain. Beijing has also offered to build an international airport, while the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would be connected with the communication network of rest of the country to facilitate transportation of goods. The Chinese Premier clearly remarked that China has strategic interest in this Corridor.
During the trip of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Islamabad, Pakistan and China signed several agreements‚ Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on May 22, 2013 to strengthen and diversify cooperation in diversified fields. Beijing would also provide financial aid to Islamabad to complete the Gwader seaport. Premier Li Keqiang had supported Pakistan’s proposal of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to improve connectivity between Pakistan and Western regions of China, adding that both sides decided on a long term programme—a strategic idea, He also assured that Beijing was also ready to upgrade Karrakuram Highway and to sign Sino-Pak civilian nuclear deal. He recalled the close friendship between the two countries as time-tested.
In fact that Balochistan’s geo-strategic location with deep Gwadar seaport, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia has further irritated the US and India because Beijing has already invested billion of dollars to develop this seaport. It is owing to multiple strategic designs that the US and India seek to dismember both Pakistan and Iran. Notably, by rejecting US growing pressure, on March 11, 2013 Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the gas pipeline project with Iran. Meanwhile, Pakistan has handed over the control of Gwader seaport to China.
It is notable that under the pretext of Pak-China durable relationship, Indian ex-Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, revealed on December 29, 2010 that the Indian army “is now revising its five-year old doctrine” and is preparing for a “possible two-front war with China and Pakistan.”
It is mentionable that in the mid of May, 2013, the first Blue Book, published by a Chinese think tank said, “India’s large increase in troops at the borders near China and Pakistan and upgradation of border forces with new weapons and equipments are part of Indian strategy which includes the possibility of a two-front war with Pakistan and China.”
In the recent past, New Delhi re-opened its Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) airbase in northern Ladakh, which overlooks the strategic Karakoram Pass and is only 8 km south of the Chinese border-Aksai Chin area. India has also erected more than 10 new helipads between the Sino-Indian border.
It is of particular attention that in May 1998, when India detonated five nuclear tests, and compelled Pakistan to follow the suit, the then Defense Minister George Fernandes had declared publicly that “China is India’s potential threat No. 1.” New Delhi which successfully tested missile, Agni-111in May 2007, has been extending its range to target all Chinese cities.
In October, 2011, Indian government has given the go-ahead for the deployment of BrahMos cruise missiles in Arunachal Pradesh located along the Chinese border. With a range of 290 km., these missiles are being deployed to improve India’s military reach into the China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
While exposing India’s ambitious defence policy, Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has disclosed in its report of April 2011 that India has planned “to spend an estimated $80 billion on military modernization programs by 2015 so as to further increase its military build-up against China and disrupt security-balance in South Asia.”
On November 2, 2010, US agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets including F-16 and F-18 fighters, C-17 and C-130 aircraft, radar systems etc. Besides, India has also been getting arms and weapons from other western countries including Russia, and especially Israel. US signed a deal of civil energy technology with India in 2008, and lifted sanctions on New Delhi to import nuclear technology.
Particularly, America has been helping India in various fields because fast growing economic power of China coupled with its rising strategic relationship with the Third World—especially with Pakistan has irked the eyes of Americans and Indians. Owing to jealousy, America desires to make India a major power to counterbalance China in Asia.
It clearly shows that the US and India intends to disrupt Pak-China growing relations by backing their affiliated-insurgent groups. In this regard, a day before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Islamabad; Chinese engineers being driven through Clifton Block-1 in Karachi escaped a major bomb attack. Besides, on June 23, militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which is being supported by the Indian secret agency RAW and American CIA killed nine foreign mountain-climbers in the Nanga Parbat, Gilgit-Baltistan, which also included five Ukrainians and a number of Chinese nationals.
As regards shrewd diplomacy, Afghanistan has become a hub from where external secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have been assisting subversive activities in other parts of Pakistan—particularly in Balochistan through their affiliated-militant groups to fulfill the covert strategic designs of US, India and Israel at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. In the past few years, they abducted and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan. On a number of occasions, foreign-backed separatist outfits like Balochistan Liberation Army, Jundollah and other groups claimed responsibility for their acts of sabotage.
No doubt, Beijing wants cordial relationship with New Delhi. But India which apparently emphasises mutual cooperation with China, showing lethargic approach in the solution of border dispute, has been increasing military build near the Chinese border, coupled with secret support to the Tibetan insurgents as part of its overt and covert maneuvering.
Recently, tension arose between India and China when Indian army erected a military camp in Chumar Sector of Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC)-disputed border, situated between the two countries. As Chinese withdrew from Depsang, Indian troops constructed fortifications there. At the same time, India accused Chinese troops of intrusion into Indian area. But reality was exposed when New Delhi requested for flag meeting to resolve the issue, after Beijing put pressure on Indian Army which dismantled the constructed fortifications and to discontinue round the clock patrolling in Chumar Sector.
However, Indian aggressive approach against China cannot be seen in isolation. Similarly, Indian soldiers crossed over the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir on January 6, 2012 and attacked a Pakistani check post, killing one Pakistani soldier. Afterwards, Indian troops shot dead more Pakistani soldiers on the LoC. Then New Delhi concocted a fabricated story blaming Pakistan for killing and beheading its two soldiers.
Defence experts opine that taking the concept of a two front war, India has launched an ambitious military buildup plan, along the disputed LAC with China in state of Arunachal Pradesh and LoC in Kashmir near Pakistan.
While, New Delhi’s ambitious defence policy leaves even less for what India needs most to lift millions of its citizens from abject poverty. In fact, Indo-US strategic partnershisp which is aimed at destroying regional peace and stability, and which also gives a wake up call to other Asian powers has compelled Islamabad and Beijing to further strengthen their ties, as no country can ignore its defence when their adversaries are playing a secret game. In these terms, Pak-China relationship is time-testing.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations