Monday, February 21, 2011

The Chinese Mirror: Pakistan and North Korea

At the end of the second world war, two of the Chinese neighbors experienced partition; North Korea and South Korea came into existence in 1945, India and Pakistan in 1947. While the former was just an administrative partition caused by deep distrust between the Soviet Union and the West, the latter was a commencement of the divide and rule policy of the British encouraged by the divide in the Indian society and the geopolitics of those times. After more than half a century, the two pair of nations have again started mirroring each other to some extent.

While the circus of Indian democracy finally found the magic mantra for economic development, Pakistan has been gradually spiraling into a rogue state which shall hold the world for ransom by using its twin strategy of nuclear blackmail and extremists ideology. As in case of North Korea, China is the all weather friend of Pakistan and may have been a great help in Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. As in case of North Korea with respect to South Korea, the Pakistani establishment is largely and obsessively anti India. The trajectories of the two countries seem disturbingly similar. Will the events that took place in the Korean Peninsula repeat themselves again in the Subcontinent? 

If so, India has a lot to lose. The wild fires in the neighborhood will affect India sooner or later. Similar to North Korea, Pakistan is very close to becoming a proxy state for China to further its geopolitics. As India and China continue to grow, there will be a lot of points of disagreement and Pakistan shall come handy for China to pressurize India. As seen in the run up to the India specific waiver in the NSG, the dragon rarely shows its hand in the international arena unless it becomes inevitable. China has already started using the Kashmir dispute to gain a vantage point in its boundary negotiations with India. Pakistan is already acting as the outpost of Chinese military and navy. This trend shall increase in the future, as the west grows more impatient with Pakistan and imposes more conditions on aid. As it has happened in many African nations with despotic regimes, Pakistan government will find Chinese aid much more attractive and would readily lease a part of its sovereignty to its all weather ally.

In the larger geopolitical game for the control of international trade and natural resources, Pakistan will become a more willing pawn of the Chinese foreign policy to counter the moves of India. It would be a very scary situation for India to have a North Korea like administration in Pakistan. To prevent this scenario, India must do all it can to better its relations with Pakistan before it is too late. India must not hand over the remote control for its talks with Pakistan to extremists across the border, who have every reason to hinder the talks. Above all, India should not shy away from discussing the issue of Kashmir with Pakistan. The Kashmir issue not only provokes much of anti India sentiment in Pakistan, it also makes the Indian government to stand as a silent spectator watching with fear the democratic revolutions unfolding in the middle east.

If the Chinese mirror does show us the future, it is more important than ever for India to settle its issues with Pakistan, and help see it growing as an independent, democratic and prosperous nation.

PS: Thanks to a friend for editing