TROUBLE AT THE GATE

It is no surprise that last week Pakistan's military chose to cause trouble at the India - Pakistan border when India was already in a tense situation with China. It is reported that several Pakistani soldiers and one of the Indian soldiers were killed in the conflict. The Pakistan trained terrorists in Kashmir had already killed 7 innocent civilians. All of them were pilgrims to Amarnath. For some elements within Pakistan, attacking India comes naturally. Nawaz Sharif, the current Prime Minister and his predecessor Asif Ali Zardari have shown some understanding toward Indian democracy. And that has been their biggest crime.

Even if during Mr. Sharif's current tenure Pakistan's economic development has made progress and investment from China is pouring in, he is being asked to vacate his position. Ever since Iskandar Mirza was ousted by General Ayub Khan, civilian leaders of Pakistan have routinely been asked to give up their positions. Given Pakistan's track record nobody knows what would happen. The Pakistani brass probably thinks that India is locked in a dispute with China. So this is the time to attack India which can hardly afford to fight on two fronts at the same time. Nawaz Sharif, a businessman and a civilian leader stands in the way.

As a diplomat in Washington put it, "both China and India are matured nations." Yes, there is disagreement about the lines of control at the border. But they are not going to war over that. As Secretary Jayashankar told a group of Parliament members "a disagreement is not a dispute". Jayashankar should know. He was India's ambassador to Washington and before that to China. Historically, the boundaries along the areas in question have remained open because neither party felt compelled to occupy that area until now. Since both parties want their rightful territory, they have to decide the boundaries among themselves. China and India have been vested in each other and their trade is annually about 70 billion US dollars. In spite of their disagreements they can hardly afford to go to war. Yet a competition between them will continue to be fierce in every possible area. Their rise to the top is the real story today.

Pakistan used to be in the American column. Henry Kissinger's China journey started from Rawalpindi, Pakistan's capital. Eventually all of that changed as Pakistan became more and more drawn to Jihad by sheltering al Qaeda leaders and the Taliban of all hues. Finally, the country was caught in its own duplicity. Americans held back their money. Whatever funds they eventually gave they attached some strings to it. Now, Pakistan is a client state of China.

Under the "One Belt, One Road" formula China is investing to the tune of 30 billion US dollars in Pakistan. In a few years, its interest, 6 to 7 percent a year, would be due. Pakistan and China would have a lot to talk about then. Some Pakistanis are worried. Should Pakistan go to war, then China stands to lose its investments on Pakistan's infrastructure. What happens if a bridge or an airport it built is demolished by the "enemy?" What about a nuclear holocaust? Considering all of this, China would not encourage Pakistan to go to war. However, Pakistan may choose to go the way North Korea did. With that mindset - going alone - is too risky. Pakistan needs a support system and at the moment China provides that.

Even if an all-out war is not likely from either of its neighbors India has to remain prepared. This very preparation brings uncertainty to economic growth which the country so badly needs. Economic growth also has another enemy which is created by Indians themselves. Political elements such as RSS and BJp members have taken law into their own hands in the name of Gow Rakshya. Lynching has occurred. On the other hand, two of the RSS volunteers in South have been killed within weeks. In the last 4 years, according to the RSS account, 12 of its volunteers have been cut down in different states. Incidents like this do not help a country build its strength. That is why public figures from the Prime Minister down have to find ways to eliminate divisive activities whose propagation saps the spirit of unity within the country.


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