Can Pakistan Free Itself From China’s Grip? – OpEd


On the New Year Day of 2018, China must have been highly pleased to read President Trump’s tweet, sending a warning to Pakistan that future American aid will be refused. Not only that, President Trump went to the extent of accusing Pakistan of stating lies and indulging in deceits while receiving massive aid from USA. China has immediately responded pledging it’s support to Pakistan and applauding Pakistan for it’s fight against terrorism, obviously to convince people in Pakistan that China is their reliable friend at any time.

While China should be pleased that Trump’s tweet would force Pakistan to look for Chinese support and further enable it to tighten its vice-like grip over Pakistan, the leadership of Pakistan would certainly be concerned about the development.

Of course, to save its face, Pakistan is giving an impression of not being rattled by Trump’s tweet and is trying to create an image of Pakistan standing against USA. Mass protests have happened in Pakistan against USA and political parties in Pakistan have criticized and abused Trump for his early morning tweet on the New Year’s day.

However, the question is whether Pakistan can afford a confrontation with the USA in any manner.

Already, there is considerable concern among discerning observers in Pakistan and its well-wishers that China’s massive investment in infrastructure projects and extension of huge loan to Pakistan which Pakistan would not be able to repay in the foreseeable future, would drive Pakistan into a debt trap that would enable China to browbeat Pakistan in any manner it wants in the coming years. They wonder whether Pakistan should allow itself to become more dependent on China than what it is already now, which would inevitably happen in case of continued confrontation with the USA.

Of course, the immediate cancellation of over 250 million USD by aid to Pakistan by USA would not upset the Pakistan’s economy severely, since China and Saudi Arabia are now the bigger sources of funding and aid for Pakistan. But, the matter of worry for Pakistan is that it depends on USA on several counts and it can not afford a confrontation like what Iran and North Korea have now with USA.

One is not sure as to whether Trump has made his calculations properly and adequately, while making such sharp tweet critical of Pakistan. Driving Pakistan further under the control of China would not be in the interest of USA, in view of the geo political considerations.

However, Trump is known to make sharp, unguarded and extreme observations that some people even consider as unbecoming for a person holding the position of President of a mighty country like USA. In all probability, it is possible that he may make amends for his statement before long, so that the relations with Pakistan for the USA do not strain beyond a level. Pakistan must be hoping that President Trump would make such amends by making conciliatory statement before long.

It is well known that China has huge territorial ambitions, particularly with regard to the neighboring countries. It is also now increasingly becoming clear that China’s ambition is to become a dominating world power, not much different from the type of ambitious dream that Hitler had.

China’s aggressive occupation of Tibet and the world simply accepting it has clearly given more confidence to China and is working out it’s plans to combine its economic and military might to achieve its aim of achieving global dominance, for which dominating the neighboring Asian countries is a necessary stepping stone.

Having gone so far in its unequal relations with China and having opened its territory to a disproportionate level to China for constructing it’s projects and allowing equity and management control by Chinese companies over number of them and now being pushed by President Trump, Pakistan has to think several times about it’s future relationship with China and sovereignty issues.

Possibly, such concern is there among the leadership of Pakistan too at the present time.

The type of base enjoyed by terrorists and religious extremists in Pakistan is another grave issue facing Pakistan, just like the increasing vice like grip of China. While Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism on it’s soil due to frequent attacks and killing of many innocent people, Pakistan is accused of encouraging the terrorists to create disturbance in Kashmir.

Pakistan should realize that it cannot have cake and eat it too. It has to necessarily defeat the terrorists and wipe them out. It cannot complain about terrorism on it’s soil and at the same time, allowing the terrorists to attack India using Pakistan soil as their base.

President Trump is demanding that Pakistan should destroy the terrorist base on its soil and he is right in asking for this. Pakistan has to necessarily act on Trump’s demand, as otherwise it cannot prevent a situation where Pakistan would be forced to move closer to China, however much it may not like to do so.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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