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Chinese Consulate attack: Time to teach India a lesson?

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Jan Achakzai |

The attack on Chinses Karachi Consulate by India’s proxy “ethnic separatist group tagged as BLA” has taken Delhi’s involvement in subverting Pakistan to a new strategic and psychological level. Targeting of Chinese interests in Pakistan has also crossed a red line for Islamabad. The modus operandi remains fermenting and manipulating Pakistan’s ethnic nationalism and sectarian/religious fault-lines to fuel country’s political and economic instability.

However, attack on Chinese Consulate should alarm Pakistani policymakers and allow a retrospection of India policy. The new flank of this strategy should be paying India in its own coin by boiling it at a certain temperature by employing strategic disrupters.

India is more vulnerable due to its tribal, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, demographic and economic fault-lines than any other country in South Asia providing unprecedented leverage to Islamabad for the first time.

Zooming in on Karachi attack, such a meticulous and calculated attack could not have been possible without the sponsorship of strategic and tactical brains of India’s intel handlers setting in Delhi, Kabul, and Chahbahar-Iran. The attack needed other components—finances; human resource; logistical support; target selection; tactical eye for timing and training; strategic eye for maxim damage and headlines; picking on sensitive fault-lines, propaganda tools ( like Indian trolls using social media and quality of “claim” video); and at least three months execution plan—to mention few aspects of the sophisticated operation. As confirmed by credible intel, Chahbahar’s base camp of RAW officers pulled off this assault leading to the logical conclusion of undeniable Indian culpability.

Why the broader picture of this assault should set alarm bells ringing in Rawalpindi and Islamabad?

India attacked Chinese interests in Pakistan with the view to obtain strategic goals which are as follows: firstly, render Pakistan unsecured for Chinese investment hence undermine its growth trajectory for decades ; secondly, make CPEC project a failure and thereof undermine China’s BRI initiative in its tracts; thirdly, increase the cost for Chinese financial and potential strategic investment in South Asian countries which the Indian Establishment considers its “near abroad”; fourthly, since the long-term quest of Pakistan and China is to extend CPEC westwards encompassing Iran and Afghanistan, it is not in line with Indian and the US interests, thus should be stalled; finally, make it incentivize for the US to back Delhi’s regional and global ambitions in exchange for using its leverage (capability to inflict pain on Pakistan and China) and help offset impending loss in Afghanistan, on long-term basis.

Read more: Pakistan condemns Chinese consulate attack: PM Khan orders investigations

To achieve these goals the preferred method of India is to create and invest in a proxy web of groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in particular, to keep strategically important Baluchistan boiling and Pakistan unstable. Groups like BLA, ISIS, TTP, and PTM now MLA (Muhajir Liberation Army) are part of India’s tactical disrupters to achieve these objectives. The latest, e.g, the PTM and the now operationalized MLA are clearly meant to enhance ethnic leverage of Afghanistan and India, dilute Islamabad’s national security choices and balance China, committed to BRI’s linchpin project, CPEC.

The great bargain available to Pakistan and China is to forget CPEC and BRI, respectively, and do not trample on sensitivities and game plans of India thus will face no challenges in terms of manipulation of their pain points like ethnic nationalism/separatism and religious extremism. But these choices are not an acceptable outcome for both countries. Luckily, Pakistan has no regional or global ambitions as such it wants a respectable uninterrupted growth rate for its booming young population yet it is unlikely to happen given the Indian establishment’s strategic designs described above.

Whilst for Pakistani policymakers, navigating through new pressure points will enhance leverage and pave way for sustainable Indian policy in the longer run.

Also less likely are substantive negotiations with India as the power differential in India’s favor is so big to de-incentives for Delhi’s establishment to make any concessions to Islamabad. Unfortunately, Pakistan will continue to live with India’s claim of its nearly 34 percent of national boundaries.

Nevertheless, there are unpalatable choices available to Pakistan.

Islamabad is in a better place to deter Indian designs from implementing in the country by checkmating Delhi outside its national boundaries projecting its power beyond. In other words, contrasting India, its fault-lines are very much consequential for this new proposed policy to navigate and leverage.

Last time it was in the 1970s that Pakistan did use this leverage.

Read more: Chinese Consulate Mastermind getting treatment in India

India is more vulnerable due to its tribal, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, demographic and economic fault-lines than any other country in South Asia providing unprecedented leverage to Islamabad for the first time.

  1. Starting from India’s economic rise, Delhi has overtaken China and the USA as the most attractive FDI destination (FDI stood at $61 Billion in 2017-18). Portfolio investment is almost $42 Billion worth. A number of western expatriates working and running the business has crossed 100,000 marks with nearly 60,000 risk-averse US citizens. The current growth of 6/7 percent is steady for the next decade, as per observers. The dream of India is beyond South Asia with its global ambitions to get to UNSC’s membership eventually.
  2. But these statistics will continue to flourish only if India remains a peaceful country. The current level of the uprising in Kashmir has given Delhi sleepless nights but since Kashmir is confined to its strategic and touristic value, and does not offer economically much hence India’s growth story remains unclouded. Notwithstanding, any manipulation of other pressure points will trap the Indian establishment in over dozen modern urban militancy far dangerous than envisaged before, turning India into a ghost country by rapid loss of FDI, portfolio investment and fleeing expatriates whilst undermining tourism industry (9.4 % of India’s GDP or $210 billion in 2017) in no time.
  3. Hindutva has been transformed into a political and religious tool endangering multiple partitions giving leverage to Pakistan to hurt Delhi if it wishes to.
  4. Naxals and Maoists are already tapping the resolve and resources of Indian state for decades aptly described by Indian Author Nandini Sundar in her latest Book “The Burning Forest—India’s War in Bastar”.
  5. All Islamabad can do is up the ante against the Indian Establishment. These militancy are mainly active in seven sister states especially Chattisgarh.
  6. KLF, SFJ and other Sikh freedom fighters are ready to accept Pakistani leverage to achieve the liberation of Indian occupied Punjab,
  7. Beyond rhetoric, support for Kashmiri freedom fighters will truly transfer Kashmir into India’s Achilles heel.
  8. Diplomatically, Pakistan can use Chinese’s leverage taking into confidence India’s neighbors from Sari Lanka to Nepal exposing India designs.
  9. Since China is a stakeholder in Pakistan’s stability it can also shield Islamabad from any adverse consequences if the boiling strategy crosses above India’s pain threshold.
  10. At the end of the day, it is India that will be used against China in the long run and it is Delhi which has a goal to challenge China’s rising clout in South and West Asia. Therefore, it makes pragmatic sense for Beijing to support Pakistan’s counter strategy of inflicting pain on India to deter Delhi’s limited war of attrition through other means.

Islamabad is in a better place to deter Indian designs from implementing in the country by checkmating Delhi outside its national boundaries projecting its power beyond.

In conclusion, the Indian establishment will never accept a stable and thriving Pakistan underpinned by CPEC which effectively deleverages Delhi’s stranglehold on Malacca Strait by serving as a new conduit for Chinese imports and exports—a fact that is simply unacceptable for India.

As such Pakistani’s new India policy should be aimed at first creating a stalemate between India and Pakistan; second, providing enough incentive and space to politicians to muster political will and sit on a table to sort out issues including  historical baggage both countries inherited; and third, driving home a message that India’s peaceful rise can only happen with Pakistan friendly policy.

Whilst for Pakistani policymakers, navigating through new pressure points will enhance leverage and pave way for sustainable Indian policy in the longer run.

Read more: Terrorists meet their fate: Chinese Consulate declared secure

The US will not impede Islamabad seeking to manipulate India’s pain points as 1) it has waning influence in the region, 2) it should be provided incentives; for example, safe exit from Afghanistan and 3) guarantee for security of its token military bases (say one or two) in post-withdrawal Afghanistan as a logical quid-pro-quo.

Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst and a politician. He served as an advisor to previous Baluchistan Government on media and strategic communication. He remained associated with BBC World Service in London covering South and West Asia. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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