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India: From ‘China Threat’ to Economic Corridor

India From citing China threat to the CPEC by M Mudassir Saeed 1

Bigotry settled in India as nowhere else. Many of Modi’s predecessors in BJP were, in fact, as bellicose as he is. Following is the text of a letter written by A. B. Vajpayee to the then US President Bill Clinton in the aftermath of the 1998 nuclear tests upon the lines of which he combined guile with statecraft. He wrote, “We have an overt nuclear weapon state on our borders, a state which committed armed aggression against India in 1962.”

It is perhaps the most ridiculous of all the statements ever committed to paper by any head of the state in the modern nuclear era. Adrift on the boat of Machiavellianism; adroit as the BJPians are in cunningness; Vajpayee paradoxically inclined to seek justifications for nuclear stockpiles by citing ‘China threat’ (that was, in fact, an orchestrated one). The cunning citation of ‘China threat’ was bound to trigger the faltering process. The fault lines thus set were going to afford ample opportunity for the exchange of dissension and also for the manifestation of nationalists’ ethos across the borders making the region more insecure and porous towards the threats. Border between India and Pakistan also owes its fame as the most dangerous potential nuclear flashpoint to the Indian belligerence.

Modern India is ringed about with influences, religious, material, intellectual, radiating from the centres of revanchism and from the narrow definitions of nationalism. It can be asserted that its contact with the higher civilizations of the north (China, Japan) and of the West has failed to transform its ignominious cultural aspects. Although democracy and secularism did find a footing in India, neither seems to have incurred much of an impression on Indian minds.

Nevertheless, the antiquated ‘Hinduise all politics’ slogan of the BJPians seems to have reached the point where it refuses to meet any longer the basic essentials of the democracy and is faithfully reflected by its affiliated extremist groups like RSS that is nurturing the vague ideas of Mahabharata. On the political side, the ill-defined and absurdly-designed national life is now in utter disregard of the religious freedom and harmony. Anarchy is prevailing in the political realm of India as its premier Narendra Modi himself bears on his political rise the blood of the hundreds of innocents who either were stoned to death, burnt to ashes or simply massacred in cold blood.

Contemporary subcontinent, from the day of its partition, has undergone many radical changes that articulate it unwise to relate its ongoing trends and ethos with that of the past except in the continuity of crafting aggressive designs from Indian side. We see from the history of the subcontinent that from the end of the Muslim rule and from the foundation of British Colony, what Hindus discovered was an opportunity to alienate and exclude Muslims from the social and political life. These designs drew their strength from the zealots, who thought natives were ever ready to espouse a communal cause. Floating on their zealous emotions and blinded by their bigotry, they failed to understand that lasting impressions are made by diligence, and not by valour, the service of which for schismatic causes results only in chaos, strife and friction. Consequently, for the Muslims, from the rough terrains of northern parts to the fair lands of the Brahmaputra Valley, partition was but a last refuge.

Currently, people across the region seem to be discontented with the recent hostile posture of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Their distress consisted in the absence of shrewdness and prudence on the Indian side. In fact, the mammoth treaty of China-Pakistan Economic Project has turned Indian heads and they seem in a state of paranoia. Corresponding to the Indian obsession, it is linked primarily to the enormous potential that the project offers to Pakistan and China. Moreover, the pattern of recent developments shows that China, in a bold move, is displacing India with one arm from Afghanistan, and from Indian Ocean with the other.

India From citing China threat to the CPEC by M Mudassir SaeedPart of the India’s frustrations, however, also emanates from our military successes against the militants and more importantly, from our decisive commitment to taking up the cudgels against all creeds of militants; keeping no distinction between good and bad.

Relating to the importance of CPEC, the relations between China and Pakistan have come to one of the most cardinal points of their history. With their well-equipped manpower, they are heading their way towards the prosperity of more than, as our Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said, 3 billion people. While linking the benefits that 3 billion people will draw from CPEC, there are, therefore, 3 billion reasons for the leadership of Pakistan and China to complete the project.

For me, the most spectacular of all the aspects in our country’s politics is the presence of consensus among the political parties, simply, because such an endeavour can only be maintained by strong national consensus and no sooner consensus dilutes away than disintegration sets in.

Like in other areas, here too, for the smooth completion and working of the corridor, the provision of security against warring non-state actors is a great challenge. As the corridor presents for the common public new and fresh prospects, likewise, it also opens a new front for the militant hordes to target. No wonder then, they will endeavour their best to inflict catastrophic damages along the corridor. The provision for the corridor’s security includes, as we are told, the employment of a 10,000-strong ‘Special Security Division’. The decision is illustrious and a celebrated one. However, it bears on its part the fears of political crystallization and more importantly of the increasing control of the military. No doubt, our military carries in its profile the remarkable manifestation of its ability to guard national interests; my fears, however, rest on the suspicions that whenever and wherever regular militaries are deployed and where the general political order is characterized by chronic fragility and lack of responsiveness, political liberty exceedingly becomes rare. It is indispensable to extend political liberty towards civilians as it is this virtue that leads to the expansion of personal freedoms and eventually generates a class of vigorous, free commoners—the chief ingredient for the triumph of the economic corridor.

Because of the richness of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor in economic and development aspects, its importance has somewhat been exaggerated. However, it matters much more to both China and Pakistan; for China, chiefly because it will rid China of the fears of possible aggression on the part of India along the Malacca Strait, and partly because it is the shortest possible commerce route that will link China with the Indian Ocean and for Pakistan it bears an opportunity to set up along its route firm basis for the industrial and manufacturing activity to flourish and also to extricate the country from the obsession of international isolation. The corridor will surely impart its civilizing influence in industrial, commercial and scientific spheres. It will bequeath throughout the region especially among the peoples of China and Pakistan a legacy of goodwill and to the subtle degree a sense of interdependence.

Both countries have already inked Free Trade Agreement under which trade activities are in regular practice, however, in contrast to FTA, the economic corridor displays even more munificent prospects for the region. Simply, the endeavour is expected to bestow the aspects of economic integration which FTA failed to boast.

Fortunately, there are no nationalistic prejudices and animosities between Pakistanis and Chinese nationals, which otherwise, thwart the play of interactive forces. Initiated primarily through successful border arrangement and intensified by the mutual Free Trade Agreement, the Sino-Pak friendship is expected to enter, upon the durable material of CPEC, into a new phase where along the routes of commerce will also start the process of infiltration that will create noticeable spiritual and intellectual impress.

History has time and again furnished for us opportunities which, unfortunately, earlier, either by the attendance of our unremitting negligence or by the occupancy of our chronic impotence, we failed to materialize. This time again, in the realm of leadership, the corridor offers a much greater opportunity to our political leadership to rise to the dignity of national life. If the opportunity is utilized, our single port Gwadar may rival the splendid centres of the world as a shipping centre and share in the accruing wealth.

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