Connecting the sequence of events:
Till August 31st, 2017, Pakistan claims 700 ceasefire violations at LoC by India, resulting in many civilians’ deaths, earlier of many Army personnel too.
Trump revealing the Afghanistan policy launched a diatribe against Pakistan stating, “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” declared the president. “It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace”. National Security Council spokesman and then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson followed with a brew of their speech laced with more of the same.
Not just this, but in the same speech, Trump spoke warmly of New Delhi’s “important contributions to stability in Afghanistan.” Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University bluntly stated, “The fact that Trump is taking sides could hurt counter-terror initiatives between India and Pakistan.” (August 22, 2017)
In 2001, after the US invaded Afghanistan toppling the Taliban government, India expanded her influence being a traditional supporter of the Northern Alliance that heavily influenced Karzai’s set up. This ingress by India in Afghanistan sent alarm bells ringing in Pakistan for fear of India encircling Pakistan. U.S. General Stanley McChrystal in 2009 had stated: “increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions.”
India has invested hugely in Afghanistan in infrastructures, development aid packages, in Kandahar facilitating fruit merchants by setting up hydroelectric dams to a 5,000-ton cold storage facility, schools and hospitals. The bigger aim being to increase influence in Afghanistan as opposed to Pakistan.
Sushma Swaraj, in the United Nations a few days ago, took a hit at Pakistan spitting venom and among other things stated, “Islamabad had given the world “terrorists” while India was producing top-notch doctors and engineers.” The statement is ironic and Swaraj could have chosen better words had she realised it. It is Shahid Khakan Abbasi, sitting Prime Minister of Pakistan who is a professional engineer with a Bachelor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master degree from the University of Washington. It is her sitting Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi who was banned from entering the United States for a decade. The ban came as a result of the 2002 Gujrat riots. Peals of laughter reverberated in the Pakistani drawing rooms and mirth reined the social media on Swaraj’s statement.
In the first week of September, Indian Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat in India Today warned of the possibility of a two-front war with China and India.
On October 7, 2017 (quoting a local newspaper) “The Trump administration has informed Congress that it too believes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through a disputed territory — originally an India claim aimed at thwarting the development plan. The $56 billion CPEC passes through Pakistan’s northern areas, which India claims is part of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir territory. “The One Belt, One Road also goes through the disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
Major Javed Majid ® having served as Deputy Commissioner Chitral, Joint Secretary Ministry of Kashmir and Northern Areas and also Chief Secretary Azad Jammu and Kashmir responds to this statement, “ The CPEC route, after Hunza, travels on the right bank of the River Indus which was never a part of the Maharaja Kashmir’s domain. Hunza again was never a part of Kashmir. The Kashmir sold by the British to the Maharaja was from the Chenab to the Indus. When the British captured Hunza, Gilgit and Chitral, the Maharaja wrote to the British asking that these areas may also be included in his State. This request was refused by the British in categorical terms and said that these areas will NEVER form part of the Maharaja’s State. When Pakistan was created there were British Political Agents at Gilgit and Chitral. Gilgit Scouts were commanded by a British Officer. The boundaries of the Kashmir State are being confused. The CPEC Route does not pass through the disputed area of Kashmir. These areas were small States which were conquered by the British but the Rulers were allowed to continue ruling and joined Pakistan on their own choice. Astore and Baltistan, which were part of Kashmir, were liberated by local people, guided by late Brig Aslam Khan, then a Major.”
The sequence of anti-Pakistan’s incident above brings many facts to light.
One; the new found love between US and India is an established reality. Direct and indirect support by Trump’s America points towards a) towards India’s fear of economic advantages Pakistan will reap once CPEC is fully operational. Modi had in 2015 declared the project “unacceptable” after China announced a plan to invest $46bn b) India fears China’s growing influence in Indian Ocean c) India also does not want Kashmir internationalised.
Two; America on the other hand, wishes to a) limit China’s expansion b) buy Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan at the cost of latter’s concern of India’s increasing meddling in Afghanistan (this will not happen) c) squeeze Pakistan at different levels in a well-choreographed dance with India to push Pakistan diplomatically in a corner-ice lollies notwithstanding.
What Trump must realise, though it needs to have good relations with India a lopsided policy with Pakistan, especially with reference to Afghanistan, will only create further destabilisation in the region and never bring peace in Afghanistan.
By: Yasmeen Aftab Ali – The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’