By Dr Subhash Kapila*
Reminiscent of British colonisation of India two centuries ago facilitated by some Indian princes connivance two centuries ago, China in 2017 has comprehensively colonised Pakistan with the connivance of Pakistan Army and Pakistani politicians.
India needs to take a special note of this trend as in 2017 wherein it is emerging that Pakistan’s own national interest would now slide into a sub-text and be subsumed into the all-enveloping Chinese strategic blueprint for South Asia. Pakistan would only be a Chinese colonial proxy for dealing with India.
Perceptionaly, in 21st Century political parlance it can be believed that a nation gets “colonised” when willingly a nation’s power structure elites concede their policy decision-making wholly or virtually to a powerful neighbour in the domains of foreign policy, political dynamics, economic development and subsuming one’s own national security interests to those of their ‘strategic patron.’
Strategically ironic is the fact that Pakistan, as a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Pakistan, self-proclaimed as geopolitically significant globally, and also proclaiming ‘strategic equivalence’ with India as the neighbourly Emerged Power, should have succumbed to China’s geopolitical pressures over the decades to build it as the contending power with India. In the process decades later in 2017, Pakistan despite its mighty claims has seemingly emerged as comprehensively colonised by China.
Ironically further, is the tragic reality that China’s colonisation of Pakistan was made possible by the majority Punjabi-dominated Pakistan Army Generals and the Punjabi-dominated Pakistani political set-up. ‘Mountains-High’ and ‘Oceans-Deep’ rhetorical flourishes on the ‘China & Pakistan Iron Brothers’ relationship is nothing but a fig-leaf to deceive the unsuspecting people of Pakistan on the true nature of this relationship. Pakistan in 2017 seems to have emerged as yet another Muslim Province of China like Xinjiang.
China’s comprehensive colonisation of Pakistan needs to be examined in as to how far China is in control of Pakistan’s processes of foreign policy, dominance of Pakistan’s economic future and most significantly as to how much China has penetrated the Pakistan Army hierarchy and how deeply the Pakistan Army has been rendered an irreversible military client state of China.
Much propagated in academic and strategic circles is that it is the Pakistan Army which controls Pakistan’s foreign policy towards India and Afghanistan and even major powers like Russia and USA. The truism in 2017 is that the foreign policy of Pakistan towards these countries is being controlled by China, through its proxy, the Pakistan Army. This is said in the sense that Pakistan is made to factor-in China’s strategic sensitivities when Pakistan formulations on India and Afghanistan are made and its attitudinal inclinations towards the Major Powers are determined.
The China-Pakistan Axis is fully in play in 2017 with connivance of Pakistani military and Pakistan political hierarchy and significantly emerges as a crucial determinant in Pakistan’s dealings with USA, India and Afghanistan overturning existing templates. In the same pattern falls the Russian o pivot to Pakistan under China’s influence.
China’s control of Pakistan’s political processes and thought is achieved by its penetrations of the Punjabi-predominant Pakistan Army hierarchy and politicians. Has anyone observed China reaching out politically to Pakistani politicians of other fringe provinces of Pakistan? Why do Pakistani politicians sing hymns of praise for China, had it not been for political gains?
Why does China shield global terrorists like Massod Azhar from being sanctioned by United Nations by China using its veto? Is it not that China has a vested interest n Pakistani Jihadi affiliates of Pakistan Army targeting India? Is it not that by such negativity, China achieves its aims of destabilising India through its colonial proxy, the Pakistan Army?
Pakistani political establishment’s brutal suppression of unrest in Gilgit and Baltistan in the North and even more brutally in Balochistan in the South on the Arabian Sea Coast has more to do with furthering China’s strategic interest in these regions.
China in 2017 has firmly colonised Pakistan in all economic domains extending from power generation, infrastructure development and like the British in India’s colonisation reduced Pakistan to the status of a resources provisioning economy for the Chinese economy.
China’s masterstroke in inducing Pakistan into mortgaging Pakistan’s present and future economic prosperity has been achieved by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcement in 2015 of the much flaunted $ 46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (C PEC). Projected by China as a Chinese master blueprint for economic transformation of Pakistan, it is a merely a strategic Chinese blueprint for China’s colonial control of Pakistan in perpetuity, strategically and economically. Pakistan is being made to take heavy loans from Chinese banks at high rates of interest to finance the CPEC and some experts opine that Pakistan would take nearly forty years to pay back Chinese loans.
Notable voices within Pakistan have publicly raised questioning the CPECs economic benefits to Pakistan and pointing out that the virtual and real economic benefits accrue to China. Further, whatever economic benefits that fall within the Pakistani lap are all in favour of Punjabi-dominated Pakistan Amy and the Punjab Province. The CPEC has therefore created political divisions within Pakistan on the classic colonial pattern of ‘divide and rule’. The CPEC alignment predominantly runs through the heartland of Pakistan Punjab.
The Pakistan Army never sold its ‘soul’ to the United States despite decades of United States providing ‘strategic patronship’ to Pakistan and pumping in billions of dollars of aid additionally. In fact, the Pakistan Army in marked ingratitude, all along, double-timed the United States. Contrastingly, the Pakistan Army has noticeably sold its soul to China, even when China has not matched American munificence. More significantly, the Pakistan Army has never dared to double-time China on its strategic interests. The Pakistan Army is fully subservient to Chinese dictates as exemplified by the Pakistan Army assault n Lal Masjid on Chinese dictates, sometime back
If CPEC through which China engirdles Pakistan, or better still, through CPEC the Chinese shackling of Pakistan in perpetuity is achieved by China, then it is the Pakistan Army which is in marked collusion with China to achieve this. The Pakistan Army through two different Army Chiefs has committed itself to be sole provider of security to CPEC through a specially raised Army Division sized force. Not only that, the Pakistan Army has been at odds with the civilian government in that the Pakistan Army wants full control of project-management of the CPEC project by edging out Pakistani civilian agencies. The intentions of the Pakistan Army in furthering China’s strategic interests are suspect?
The Pakistan Army nuclear weapons arsenal and its ballistic missiles arsenal came into existence fully on Chinese technology and assistance and so are its military hardware inventories in 2017. Should in the future Pakistan ever wishes to exit from the Chinese colonial hold, the Pakistan Army would take decades to transform its predominantly Chinese military hardware inventories.
More noticeably, whenever Pakistan is faced with some crisis or a crisis in the making the Pakistan Army Chief of the day rushes to Beijing for consolations, or better still, Chinese mentoring, especially when related to India.
Concluding, it is tragic to observe that the Punjabi-dominated Pakistan Army and the Punjabi-dominated Pakistani political establishment blinded by their pathological hatred for India should have willy-nilly become the handmaidens for China’s comprehensive colonisation of Pakistan. India would be well advised to factor-in this perspective in dealing with Pakistan. India would henceforth not be dealing with Pakistan but with a China-colonised Pakistan where Pakistani national interest would be now a sub-text of China’s strategic stakes in South Asia.
*Dr Subhash Kapila is a graduate of the Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley and combines a rich experience of Indian Army, Cabinet Secretariat, and diplomatic assignments in Bhutan, Japan, South Korea and USA. Currently, Consultant International Relations & Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. He can be reached at [email protected]