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Drivers of instability in South Asia

South Asia is an instable region; two major drivers of this situation are hegemonic designs of Indian leadership, and continued occupation of Afghanistan by the United States. Other contributory factors are inter-state territorial and resource distribution claims amongst the constituent states.

With simultaneous rise of ultra-right nationalist leadership in the US and India, both leaderships have found a common ground in operationalizing Machiavellian tactics by perpetuating instability in select hotspots.  This convergence of interest is resulting in prolonging the hardship of Kashmiri and Afghan people. Impeding development projects of Pakistan is another facet of Indian strategy, while the US is ganging up South China sea and East China sea littorals to bog down China in its own proximity. Then, there is second ring having heavy weights like japan, India and Australia to blunt Chinese growth.

India’s notorious intelligence outfit RAW has established “a special cell with an operational budget of $ 500 million to sabotage multi billion dollars China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)…India is stoking chaos and anarchy in the region”, said Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Zubair Mehmood Hayat on November 14. He added that New Delhi is also “fanning terror in Balochistan”.

Threats faced by Pakistan and the region at the hands of India hegemonic designs are multidimensional, India is taking extreme measures to assert its domination in the region. India’s half a billion-dollar anti-CPEC bounty would have been better spend on constructing couple of thousands of public toilets to facilitate a typical common Indian. Or, more prudently, on establishing the infrastructure connecting India with CPEC.

Confessional statements of an Indian Navy officer, Commander Kulbushan Jhadav, working for RAW, and now in Pakistan’s custody on charges of spying, alongside disclosures by the former spokesperson of TTP, Ehsanullah Ehsan, lay bare are the contour of Indian strategy towards Pakistan and the region.

CJCSC’s comments also echoed during weekly briefing of Pakistan’s foreign office on November 16. A question was asked: “Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee has recently stated that RAW has launched a special cell against CPEC. Do you have any other details regarding this and what are your views on this development?”; the spokesperson candidly responded: “… it is a matter of public knowledge that India has created a special cell specifically to target and sabotage CPEC. Various statements of Indian leadership are on record to this effect. We continue to work with China on trade, and connectivity related projects, and are not deterred by such statements”.

At tactical level, Indian disruptive strategy is being executed from the Afghan soil. For this purpose, Afghan government has allowed India to setup its consulates   alongside Pakistan’s borders. And in this dirty business, Afghan intelligence under the umbrella of National Directorate of Security (NDS) is hand in glow with RAW. This nexus aims at enhancing clandestine Indian military footprint in Afghanistan and rolling back of legitimate Pakistani influence amongst Afghan masses.

RAW is also funding terror in Pakistan, trails of a number of recent terrorist attacks, especially in Balochistan, point towards India. Financial trails of ongoing anti-Pakistan paid advertisements displayed by busses and vans in some of the European capitals also point towards same source.

Pakistan has taken several measures to thwart such foreign designs. Security entities like Special Security Division by Pakistan Army and special task force by Pakistan Navy have been raised to provide security cover to CPEC related projects. Spoilers have neither been able to cause any meaningful disruption nor a sustainable organized resistance. All they have been able to achieve is sporadic cowardly attacks whose intensity and frequency is also diminishing.

Some of the early harvest mega CPEC projects of energy and infrastructure are near maturity. The industrial development phase is about to begin. All this is supported by national consensus. There has hardly been such a firm consensus on other national issues except nuclearization and Kashmir. All CPEC ventures have popular support of the general public as well as backing of all political and religious parties. Put together, all conspiracies to disrupt and or impede CPEC have come to a naught. CPEC has gathered critical mass, and it is here to stay and flourish. In frustration, India is perpetrating terrorism in Pakistan through Taliban, Baloch separatists, sectarian elements on the pay roll of RAW. By doing so, India is disrupting the regional harmony of South Asia.

Path to better relations with India passes through Kashmir, and there is no bypass. Political and strategic differences have been causing conflictual environment in South Asia, and India is fostering the conflict. India is also doing so by making claims to ‘surgical strike’ and clandestinely pursuing ‘Cold Start Doctrine’. There is one highly empowered Indian soldier for every 20 Kashmiris; 94,000 Kashmiris have been martyred while more than 7,700 have lost their eyesight.

Despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary. During 2017, more than 1300 violations took place, as compared to 382 ceasefire violations in 2016. It has caused martyrdom of 50 innocent civilians and injuries to 165.

Conceding to Indian request, Pakistan has offered to arrange a meeting of Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev with his wife, in Pakistan, purely on humanitarian grounds. It is interesting to note that instead of acknowledging this gesture of graciousness by Pakistan the Hindustan Times has stated that Pakistan has granted this permission under pressure from International Court of Justice (ICJ). Since Pakistan granted this permission, Jhadev’s wife has gone missing and now India wants Jhadev’s mother to meet him first.

India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has successfully test-launched a nuclear-capable Nirbhay cruise missile. Presumably, it is India’s first indigenously designed and developed long-range cruise missile.  The test was not notified to Pakistan. Developments like these endanger the strategic stability in South Asia. The bilateral agreement on pre-notification of missile tests covers only ballistic missiles. Cruise missiles are not covered.

According to spokesperson of Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs: “This underscores the need for Pakistan and India to engage in meaningful discussions on further measures for confidence-building, avoidance of arms race and promotion of strategic stability in South Asia, among other issues. Pakistan stands ready for such talks with India. Our proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia is still on the table…India had been exercising ‘strategic restraint’ on its missile development prior to getting the MTCR membership. This speaks of the Indian duplicity in paying lip service to the objectives of non-proliferation, while secretly pursuing a conventional and strategic arms buildup”. Presumably, India would play the same havoc with nuclear non-proliferation after if it gets the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Afghanistan is a gateway between South Asia and Central Asia, hence instability in Afghan territories is perilous for these two regions— especially Pakistan. However, factors like weak governance and a fizzled-out reconciliation process are some of the drivers of chaos in Afghanistan. Pakistan wishes for lasting peace in Afghanistan. Pakistani security personnel are often martyred by terrorists operating from sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is paying a high price for instability in Afghanistan. Presence of terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan is an established reality. Latest report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) confirms that more than 43 percent of Afghan territory is not under the control of the Afghan Government. This is alarming as it provides opportunity for all kinds of terrorist groups to use these as sanctuaries.

Pakistan wishes to have friendly relations with all its neighbors. Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community believes in peace and strategic stability—in South Asia and beyond.

 

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