Friday, August 26, 2022

Indian Diplomat Sharat Sabharwal on Pakistan's "Resilience", "Strategic" CPEC, China-Pakistan "Nexus"

Retired Indian diplomat Sharat Sabharwal in his recently published book "India's Pakistan Conundrum"  disabuses his fellow Indians of the notion that Pakistan is about to collapse. He faithfully parrots the familiar Indian tropes about Pakistani Army and accuses it of sponsoring "cross-border terrorism". He also writes that "Pakistan has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity".  "Pakistan is neither a failed state nor one about to fail", he adds. He sees "limitations on India’s ability to inflict a decisive blow on Pakistan through military means". The best option for New Delhi, he argues, is to engage with Pakistan diplomatically. In an obvious message to India's hawkish Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he warns: "Absence of dialogue and diplomacy between the two countries carries the risk of an unintended flare-up". Ambassador Sabharwal served as Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan from 2009 to 2013. Prior to that, he was Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad in the 1990s.

India's Pakistan Conundrum by Sharat Sabhrawal Book Cover


In a 30-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire to discuss his book, Sabharwal said it is not in India’s interests to promote the disintegration of Pakistan. “The resulting chaos will not leave India untouched”. He further argued that Indians must disabuse themselves of the belief that India has the capacity to inflict a decisive military blow on Pakistan in conventional terms. “The nuclear dimension has made it extremely risky, if not impossible, for India to give a decisive military blow to Pakistan to coerce it into changing its behavior.”  He said Indians must disabuse themselves of the belief that they can use trade to punish Pakistan. “Use of trade as an instrument to punish Pakistan is both short-sighted and ineffective because of the relatively small volume of Pakistani exports to India.” 

Below are some key excerpts of "India's Pakistan Conundrum" by Ambassador Sharat Sabhrawal: 

Pakistan Not Failed State: 

"In conclusion, it can be said that Pakistan is neither a failed state nor one about to fail in the foreseeable future. Further, so long as the army remains a largely professional and disciplined force, having at its disposal Pakistan’s rapidly growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, the probability of a change in Pakistan’s external boundaries would remain very low. Therefore, a policy premised on the failure or disintegration of the Pakistani state would hinge on unsound expectations. However, because of the various factors examined in the previous chapters, Pakistan will continue to be a highly dysfunctional state with widespread lawlessness". 

Pakistan's Remarkable Resilience:

"Pakistan has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity – evidenced most tellingly by its recovery following the humiliating defeat in 1971. It has recovered significantly from the terror backlash, which followed Musharraf’s U-turn in the wake of 9/11. Fatalities in terror violence that mounted sharply from 2004 onwards, reaching the peak of 11,317 in 2009 (civilians, security forces personnel and terrorists), were down to 365 in 2019. Similarly, fatalities in suicide attacks, which reached the peak of 1,220 in 2010, were down to 76 in 2019".

China Pakistan "Nexus"

"China too reacted adversely to the above Indian move (article 370 abrogation), accusing India of continuing to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally amending its domestic laws and urging it to be cautious in its words and deeds on the border issue. Subsequently, it repeatedly called for peaceful resolution of “Kashmir dispute” left over from colonial history, based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements, thus echoing Pakistan’s position on the subject.  Pakistan’s questioning of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India and its policy of cross-border terrorism did not stem from the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under the Indian constitution and have outlasted its abrogation. The Pakistani dimension of India’s Kashmir problem and the Pakistani threat to the security of this sensitive region are still very much alive".

Strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC):

"China’s reaction to the Indian move and its subsequent aggressive actions in eastern Ladakh have added to that threat. Keen to ensure the safety and security of its strategic CPEC investment, China could in the normal course be expected to encourage a solution based on freezing the existing  territorial reality between India and Pakistan in J&K. However, with the downturn of its own relationship with India, it may be tempted to sustain and bolster Pakistan’s hostility. Equally, India’s strategic planners may be tempted not to give any comfort to China on the CPEC until a degree of stability is restored to the India-China equation, disturbed seriously by China’s aggressive behaviour in eastern Ladakh. Overall, the external environment for the security and stability of Jammu and Kashmir has worsened. This makes it all the more important for India to address the internal dimension of its Kashmir conundrum. India’s challenge is to ensure peace in J&K, not only in the immediate, but durable peace, for the failure to do so would continue to invite external meddling". 

Consequences of Pakistan's Disintegration: 

"Should India work to break up Pakistan? A body of opinion in India recommends that India should be proactive in causing the disintegration of Pakistan. For the reasons mentioned in Chapter 6, a policy premised on disintegration of the Pakistani state would hinge on unsound expectations. However, let us examine, for the sake of argument, the consequences of heightened turmoil in/break up of Pakistan for India. The unwise policies of Pakistan’s rulers have already resulted in considerable turbulence there. Though the Pakistani state uses terror against India, it is calibrated  by its instrumentalities. Heightened chaos in Pakistan leading to collapse of the state authority will not leave India untouched. Let us not forget that Pakistan has continued to pay a heavy price for having caused instability in its neighbour – Afghanistan – something I repeatedly recalled to my Pakistani audiences. Collapse of the state will also present India with a humanitarian crisis of a gigantic proportion, with the terrain between the two countries offering an easy passage to India for those fleeing unrest in Pakistan. At the height of terrorism in the Pakistani Punjab in 2009–10, some of my interlocutors in Lahore were candid enough to say that in the event of a Taliban takeover, they  would have no option but to run towards India. Break up of Pakistan could lead to a civil war amongst the successor states or worse still among various warring groups vying for influence, as was the case after collapse of the state authority in Afghanistan, entailing the undesirable consequences mentioned above and perilous uncertainty concerning the ownership of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Alternatively, India may be faced with a hostile Pakistani Punjab in possession of nuclear weapons. In either case, it will be bad news for India".

Related Links:

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India-Pakistan Ties: Who's at Fault For Failing to Resolve Disputes?

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Jaswant Singh on Indian Foreign Policy's "Strategic Confinement"

Vast Majority of Indians Believe Nuclear War Against Pakistan is Winnable

Kautilya Doctrine Dominates India's Pakistan Policy

US and China Vying For Influence in Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-Japan-US

Pakistan Rising or Failing: Reality vs Perception

US DoD 1999 Forecast: "Pakistan Disappears By 2015"

China Pakistan Economic Corridor

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channe

19 comments:

Air said...

". Alternatively, India may be faced with a hostile Pakistani Punjab in possession of nuclear weapons. In either case, it will be bad news for India".

So no different from today. I say let's try it (economic squeeze), what's the harm?

Squeezing pakistan economically is a lot more comprehensive than simply not trading with them... it means negotiating to get them excluded from preferential trade deals, subsidies to industries that directly compete with Pakistani exports, strategic infrastructure building to gain marketshare in countries that would be natural markets for Pakistan, goading Pakistan into a military building that they cannot afford etc etc - all of this is a lot more complex than simply "not trading with Pakistan".

In either case, it's too late now - Pakistan already sealed its fate when it signed the CPEC loan deal. All India can do now is play its part in nudging it over the edge.

Anonymous said...

^ Exactly. A stable USSR with 80,000 nukes wasn’t in the US interest.A stable prosperous Pakistan isn’t in our interest.

My biggest fear though is that some of these RSS idiots actually believe in this Akhand Bharat nonsense.This is our biggest civilisation all threat in 10 -15 years when we are 5-10 times richer than Pakistan these people may actually request for reunion East Germany style.

The fools evidently can’t do basic arithmetic and see that an Akhand Bharat today will be 45%+ Muslim and a Muslim majority within a generation.

Good luck surviving in a Sunni Muslim majority country.Hint look up the fate of Christians in Lebanon after Lebanon went from Christian to Muslim majority.

Multiply that by 10 and that would be the fate of Hindus in South Asia in such an Akhand Bharat!

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of Sabharwal's book review by Indian Maj Gen Jagatbir Singh, VSM (Retd):

https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/country-not-india-paks-fundamental-problem

Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal has had the unique distinction of managing complex relations between India and Pakistan at crucial junctures, as he has served there both as Deputy High Commissioner from 1995 to 1999, and as High Commissioner from 2009 to 2013, where he has been witness to various facets of Pakistan—both negative and positive. His book, “India’s Pakistan Conundrum”, published by Routledge is, therefore, written with the knowledge and insight of a practitioner but also with the wisdom of his depth of knowledge and understanding of the multiple dilemmas that shape the relationship. The book, therefore, brings a much needed clarity on key issues that shape this critical relationship.

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The book is laid out in two parts, with Part I examining the nature of the Pakistani State and how it impacts India to include chapters on religious extremism, the economy, which depends on an external patron, the Army, which is described as a “state within a state”, the ethnic fault lines, what drives Pakistan hostility towards India and “Whiter Pakistan”.
Part II covers key issues of India-Pakistan relations and India’s policy options. This has chapters on all the major issues to include Jammu & Kashmir, terrorism, trade, other outstanding issues which include Siachen and Sir Creek, our shared heritage, engaging with the real power centre, water, MFN and Pakistan’s fault lines, the nuclear dimension, isolating Pakistan, the issue of dialogue versus no dialogue and the way forward in managing the relationship. Each chapter has been deeply researched with detailed quotes from various sources to back his observations.
Pakistan has defined itself as the antithesis of India. It craves parity with India in spite of the differences in size, potential and comprehensive national power. In this quest it has “turned itself into a rentier state, ready to do the bidding of an external patron, willing to underwrite its ambitions vis a vis India financially and militarily even at the cost of the interests of its people”.
While writing about religious extremism, the author clearly brings out the changes that have taken place in the Constitution, which included declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims as well as the traditional Shia-Sunni divide and the divide within the Sunnis between Deobandis and Barelvis.

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The author writes that Pakistan “has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity” and as long as the Army remains “a largely disciplined and professional force” having at its disposal a rapidly growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely to fail in the near future.
Part II is the key, covering India-Pakistan relations to include J&K, which is always placed on a higher pedestal in any discussion.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Air

"So no different from today. I say let's try it (economic squeeze), what's the harm?"

I have two questions for you
1: how exactly would you do that?

and more importantly,

2: what color is sky on your planet?

G. Ali

Zamir said...

"Exactly. A stable USSR with 80,000 nukes wasn’t in the US interest.A stable prosperous Pakistan isn’t in our interest"

Actually, India's existence is not in the interest of any
country in South Asia. Just ask little brother Nepal how they feel about India.
G. Ali

Air said...



I have two questions for you
1: how exactly would you do that?

I think FATF grey-listing was a good strategy, it kept Pakistan's non-chinese FDI low (<$2B/yr) in a time when FDI was booming wordwide as supply chains re-oriented away from China. Now they are trying to take Pakistan out of the grey list - we should play some videos of Imran and SMQ praising OBL to remind them who they are dealing with. It was also enough to nearly cause a Forex crisis.

I think getting Pakistan out of the GSP+ arrangement should be the next move, citing blasphemy laws, forced conversions, and state indoctrination against religious minorities. Let's see how long Pakistan's textile exports last in that condition.

Official recognition of the 1971 genocide should be the next priority - along with reparations for the victims.

Other than that - most of Pakistan's issues are self inflicted, India's ability to influence the world is marginal in comparison.

Anonymous said...

.... and exactly who is going to do that? As you said India's influence is marginal.

Also, I am still waiting for the answer to my second question.

G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

Air: "when we are 5-10 times richer than Pakistan these people may actually request for reunion East Germany style"

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride....

Pakistanis are less miserable than Indians in the economic sphere, according to the Hanke Annual Misery Index (HAMI) published in early 2021 by Professor Steve Hanke. With India ranked 49th worst and Pakistan ranked 39th worst, both countries find themselves among the most miserable third of the 156 nations ranked. Hanke teaches Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Hanke explains it as follows: "In the economic sphere, misery tends to flow from high inflation, steep borrowing costs, and unemployment. The surefire way to mitigate that misery is through economic growth. All else being equal, happiness tends to blossom when growth is strong, inflation and interest rates are low, and jobs are plentiful". Several key global indices, including misery index, happiness index, hunger index, food affordability index, labor force participation rate, ILO’s minimum wage data, all show that people in Pakistan are better off than their counterparts in India.


Given the growing inequality in India, an average Indian will remain poor, unemployed and hungry as he/she is today. Having more billionaires will not help an average India.

In spite of the headline GDP growth figures highlighted by the Indian and world media, the fact is that it has been jobless growth. The labor participation rate (LPR) in India has been falling for more than a decade. The LPR in India has been below Pakistan's for several years, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Even before the COVID19 pandemic, India's labor participation rate was around 43%, lower than its neighbors'. Now it has slipped further to about 40%. Meanwhile, the Indian government has reported an 8.4% jump in economic growth in the July-to-September period compared with a contraction of 7.4% for the same period a year earlier. This raises the following questions: Has India had jobless growth? Or its GDP figures are fudged? If the Indian economy fails to deliver for the common man, will Prime Minister Narendra Modi step up his anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim rhetoric to maintain his popularity among Hindus?

India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asians have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place.

https://www.riazhaq.com/2021/12/india-in-crisis-unemployment-and-hunger.html

Riaz Haq said...

India's misery index is 35.8 and Pakistan's 32.5...meaning Indians are worse off than Pakistanis. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/worst-countries-to-live-in

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India has ranked at 136 in the annual UN-sponsored happiness index, ranking even below Pakistan, which is at the 121 spot. https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/world-happiness-report-2022-india-ranks-below-pakistan-finland-happiest-for-fifth-year-in-a-row

Anonymous said...

Please stop polluting his mind with facts.

Btw, on his planet wishes are horses.

G. Ali

Air said...

https://www.nationalreview.com/2022/03/hankes-2021-misery-index-whos-miserable-and-whos-happy/

Of course you won't publish my last post where I computed the index for 2022, but here's the 2021 index.
LOL 2021 Misery Index is out: Pakistan 29.6, India at 14.9

But of course course you will use the 2020 data because India had a sharp lockdown there.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi says bhajans (#Hindu religious songs) will cure #malnutrition. Over 35% of #Indian children are stunted, 19.3% wasted & 32.5% underweight.
BJP rule has seen undernourished population increase from 14.9% to 15.5% of population https://science.thewire.in/health/narendra-modi-malnutrition-bhajan/ via @TheWireScience


In the 92nd episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said conducting bhajans can be part of the solutions to reducing malnutrition.
Cultural and traditional practices are not harmful. But it is in bad faith to make them part of habits that sideline tested and approved solutions to crucial welfare issues.
The statement also distracts from the fact that in Modi’s time as prime minister, India has come to account for a quarter of all undernourished people worldwide

There is much evidence in the public domain that says the availability, accessibility and affordability of good-quality food is crucial to improve the nutritional and health status of India’s people. There is nothing, however, about bhajans.

Many scholars and scientists have often criticised Prime Minister Modi for his irrational claims on many occasions. Reminiscent of his “taali, thali and Diwali” campaign as the COVID-19 pandemic was gaining strength, Modi’s comment on bhajans only distracts from the dire importance of effective public health measures – even as the rate of improvement of some important indicators have slid in his time at the helm.

Cultural and traditional practices are not harmful. But it is in bad faith to make them part of habits that sideline tested and approved solutions to crucial welfare issues.

In his monologue, Modi narrated a story of how people of a community in Madhya Pradesh each contribute a small quantity of grains, using which a meal is prepared for everyone one day a week. However, he shifted the focus at this point to devotional music in bhajan–kirtans – organised under the ‘Mera Bachha’ campaign – instead of dwelling on the role of Indigenous food cultures. This is counterproductive.

More malnourished children

India’s National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) and Comprehensive National Nutrition Surveys have documented the high prevalence of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency among India’s children, adolescents and women. The recently published NFHS-5 results reported a high prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweightedness among children younger than five years and that they have declined only marginally in the last five years.

--------

A public-health approach to malnutrition requires us to pay attention to a large variety of socioeconomic conditions. In this regard, while many of Prime Minister Modi’s other comments in his monologue are well-taken, especially about public participation, neither the need for context-specific interventions nor for evidence-based policies are served by misplaced allusions to bhajans and kirtans.

Air said...

India under Modi also has the world's largest food support program, which is a remarkably effective policy due to self targeting.

The policy provides 10 kg of rice (5kg free, 5kg at highly subsidized rate) and 1 kg pulses to every family in India with a BPL card.

https://www.imf.org/-/media/Files/Publications/WP/2022/English/wpiea2022069-print-pdf.ashx

As a result of this policy India's $1.9 poverty line adjusted for foodgrain input was less than 1%, and it's $3.2 PPP poverty line was estimated at 15% in 2019 and 18% in 2020 during lockdown.

Your goal is to simply pull down India and mock Modi rather than learning about the poverty alleviation programs that are genuinely working in the country. And because you never discuss the techniques that work your country never makes progress.

Riaz Haq said...

Air: "As a result of this policy India's $1.9 poverty line adjusted for foodgrain input was less than 1%, and it's $3.2 PPP poverty line was estimated at 15% in 2019 and 18% in 2020 during lockdown"


India's "food energy intake" approach for calculating poverty is outdated and misleading. Humans also have other basic needs like shelter, clothing, transport etc. Pakistan changed its poverty calculation to "cost of basic needs" back in 2009-10.

https://www.southasiainvestor.com/2022/08/pakistan-at-75-highlights-of-economic.html

Riaz Haq said...

Mani Shankar Aiyar: What #India's #Modi Has Not Recognised About #Pakistan: ITS RESILIENCE AND NATIONALISM http://www.ndtv.com/opinion/pakistans-resilience-beats-modis-56-inch-chest-771700 … via @ndtv

Note: Mani Shankar spent some time in Pakistan posted as a diplomat, serving as India's first consul-general in Karachi from 1978 to 1982. He's a former federal cabinet minister and current member of Rajya Sabha

"unlike numerous other emerging nations, particularly in Africa, the Idea of Pakistan has repeatedly trumped fissiparous tendencies, especially since Pakistan assumed its present form in 1971. And its institutions have withstood repeated buffeting that almost anywhere elsewhere would have resulted in the State crumbling. Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state", Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage, linguistic and regional groups pulling and pushing, sectarian factions murdering each other, but the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge. The disintegration of Pakistan has been predicted often enough, most passionately now that internally-generated terrorism and externally sponsored religious extremism are consistently taking on the state to the point that the army is so engaged in full-time and full-scale operations in the north-west of the country bordering Afghanistan that some 40,000 lives have been lost in the battle against fanaticism and insurgency.

"And yet," as was said on a more famous occasion, "it works!" Pakistan and her people keep coming back, resolutely defeating sustained political, armed and terrorist attempts to break down the country and undermine its ideological foundations. That is what Jaffrelot calls its "resilience". That resilience is not recognized in Modi's India. That is what leads the Rathores and the Parrikars to make statements that find a certain resonance in anti-Pakistan circles in India but dangerously leverage the impact on Pakistani public opinion of anti-India circles in Pakistan. The Parrikars and the Saeeds feed on each other. It is essential that both be overcome.

But even as there are saner voices in India than Rathore's, so also are there saner - much saner - voices in Pakistan than Hafiz Saeed's. Many Indians would prefer a Pakistan overflowing with Saeeds to keep their bile flowing. So would many Pakistanis prefer an India with the Rathores overflowing to keep the bile flowing. At eight times Pakistan's size, we can flex our muscles like the bully on the school play field. But Pakistan's resilience ensures that all that emerges from Parrikar and Rathore are empty words. India is no more able than Pakistan is to destroy the other country"


http://www.ndtv.com/opinion/pakistans-resilience-beats-modis-56-inch-chest-771700

Riaz Haq said...

As the world lurches through the growing pains of massive geopolitical change, the US’ relationship with India will increasingly take center stage. Washington likes to see itself as providing a geopolitical center of gravity that is inherently attractive to nations like India, especially against regional competitors such as China. As the US is about to discover, however, India and China have a shared ambition about who should dominate the Pacific in the coming century, and it doesn’t include the US. Op Ed by Scott Ritter

https://www.energyintel.com/00000183-21d9-d467-adc7-21fdd54f0000

On Aug. 19, India’s minister of external affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, gave a speech at a university in Thailand where he stated that relations between India and China were going through “an extremely difficult phase” and that an “Asian Century” seemed unlikely unless the two nations found a way to “join hands” and start working together.

For many observers, Jaishankar’s speech was taken as an opportunity for the US to drive a wedge between India and China, exploiting an ongoing border dispute along the Himalayan frontier to push India further into a pro-US orbit together with other Western-leaning regional powers. What these observers overlooked, however, was that the Indian minister was seeking the exact opposite from his speech, signaling that India was, in fact, interested in working with China to develop joint policies that would seek to replace US-led Western hegemony in the Pacific.

Struggle for Leadership

More than six decades ago, then-US Senator John F. Kennedy noted that there was a “struggle between India and China for the economic and political leadership of the East, for the respect of all Asia, for the opportunity to demonstrate whose way of life is the better.” The US, Kennedy argued, needed to focus on providing India the help it needed to win that struggle — even if India wasn’t asking for that help or, indeed, seeking to “win” any geopolitical contest with China.

Today, the relationships between the US, India and China have matured, with all three wrestling with complex, and often contradictory, policies that are simultaneously cooperative and confrontational. Notwithstanding this, the US continues to err on the side of helping India achieve a geopolitical “win” over China. One need only consider the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” conceived in 2007, but dormant until 2017, when it was resurrected under US leadership to bring together the US, Japan, Australia and India in an effort to create a regional counterweight to China’s growing influence.

There was a time when cooler heads cautioned against such an assertive US-led posture on a regional response to an expansive, and expanding, Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific region. This line of thinking held that strong Indian relationships with Tokyo and Canberra should be allowed to naturally progress, independent of US regional ambitions.

These same “cool heads” argued that the US needed to be realistic in its expectations on relations between India and China, avoiding the pitfalls of Cold War-era “zero-sum game” calculations. The US should appreciate that India needed to implement a foreign policy that best met Indian needs. Moreover, they argued, a US-Indian relationship that was solely focused on China would not age well, given the transitory realities of a changing global geopolitical dynamic.

The Asian Century

The key to deciphering Jaishanker’s strategic intent in his Thailand comments lay in his use of the term “Asian Century.” This echoed the words of former Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in a meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, declared that “in recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view.” Deng went on to explain that unless China and India focus their respective and collective energies on developing their economies, there could, in fact, be no “Asian Century.”

Riaz Haq said...

The Asian Century

The key to deciphering Jaishanker’s strategic intent in his Thailand comments lay in his use of the term “Asian Century.” This echoed the words of former Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in a meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, declared that “in recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view.” Deng went on to explain that unless China and India focus their respective and collective energies on developing their economies, there could, in fact, be no “Asian Century.”

While Washington may not have heard the subtle implications of Jainshankar’s words, Beijing appears to have done so. Almost immediately after the text of the Indian minister’s comments was made public, the spokesperson for China’s foreign minister declared that both India and China “have the wisdom and capability to help each other succeed rather than undercutting each other.” The takeaway from this exchange is that while both China and India view their ongoing territorial disputes as problematic, they are able and willing to keep their eye on the bigger picture — the ascendancy of the so-called “Asian Century”.

The fact is that India and China have been working toward this goal for some time now. Both are critical participants in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which envisions the growth and empowerment of a trans-Eurasian economic zone that can compete with the economies of the US and Europe on a global scale. Likewise, India and China are actively cooperating within the framework of the Brics economic forum, which is emerging as a direct competitor to the Western-dominated G7.

While it is possible for India to navigate a policy path balancing the US and China in the short term, eventually it will need to go all in on China if its aspirations for an “Asian Century” are ever to be met. This narrative is overlooked by those in the US pursuing zero-sum policies with India when it comes to China.

Given the destiny inherent in the collective embrace of an “Asian Century” by India and China, the US could well find itself on the outside looking in when it comes to those wielding influence in the Pacific going forward. One thing is for certain — the “American Pacific Century” which encompasses the period between the Spanish-American War and the post-Cold War era, where US military, political, and economic power reigned supreme, has run its course. Whether or not India and China will be able to supplant it with an “Asian Century” is yet to be seen. But one thing is for certain — the strategic intent is certainly there.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer whose service over a 20-plus-year career included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control agreements, serving on the staff of US Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War and later as a chief weapons inspector with the UN in Iraq from 1991-98. The views expressed in this article are those of the author.


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s #flood crisis could be an opportunity for real change. Devastating floods have also hit #Florida. Considering the global nature of #climate challenge, at some point #US & #Pakistan must find the courage to work together on "Green Marshall Plan" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/29/pakistan-flood-crisis-climate-change-warning/

This week, Americans are understandably focused on the hurricane-related flooding in Florida, which is causing tragedy for thousands. Yet there is little attention in the United States to the fact that Pakistan has been flooded since mid-June, a catastrophe that is still causing unspeakable suffering for tens of millions.


Both of these crises owe much to the same phenomenon — climate change. But aside from some limited aid, there’s scant U.S.-Pakistan cooperation on long-term solutions. That has to change, according to Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was in the United States this week pitching his proposal for a “Green Marshall Plan.” In meetings with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and others, Zardari argued for a way those countries most responsible for climate change can help those countries most affected — and, in turn, help themselves.

It’s a big idea, and there are reasons for skepticism. But considering the global nature of the climate challenge, at some point the United States and Pakistan must find the courage to work together. In the process, the two countries might find a way back to being true allies, which would benefit both sides and balance China’s rising influence in the South Asia region.

“We have to find the opportunity in this crisis,” Zardari told me. “There are two ways of us going forward. We can do this dirtier, badly, in a way that will be worse for us and worse for the environment, or we can try to build back better in a greener, more climate-resilient manner.”

Zardari’s call for a “Green Marshall Plan” is meant to evoke America’s historical penchant for pursuing its enlightened self-interest. The idea also plays into President Biden’s own Build Back Better World concept. The theory is that Western government support for private-sector investment in climate-resilient, ecologically sustainable infrastructure in Pakistan would redound to the benefit of Western industry and help mitigate the future climate-related crises that are sure to come.

Florida will have several days of rain. In Pakistan, it rained for more than three months, submerging one-third of the country in a body of water than can be seen from space. The high floodwaters have created a cascade of problems, devastating Pakistan’s agriculture, manufacturing, trade and public health sectors.

Floods are almost a perennial occurrence in Pakistan, but this year’s continuing disaster is uniquely cataclysmic, impacting more than 33 million people (more than Florida’s entire population), including 16 million children and more than 600,000 pregnant women, according to the United Nations.

The flood and its aftereffects also risk throwing Pakistan right back into the economic crisis it was clawing its way out of. Pakistan was already on the hook to pay back $1 billion of the $10 billion it owes the Paris Club by the end of this year. Islamabad also owes some $30 billion to China. Now the country is being forced to borrow billions more to deal with the current situation.

The real question, Zardari said, is not whether the international community will come through with short-term aid and debt relief. The challenge is for the world to realize that Pakistan’s flood crisis won’t be the last or the worst, meaning the international response must take a far broader view.

In a world where covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the worldwide economic slowdown are commanding the attention of policymakers in Western capitals, the bandwidth for new and expensive ideas is narrow. Zardari knows it’s a tough sell.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s #flood crisis could be an opportunity for real change. Devastating floods have also hit #Florida. Considering the global nature of #climate challenge, at some point #US & #Pakistan must find the courage to work together on "Green Marshall Plan" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/29/pakistan-flood-crisis-climate-change-warning/


In a world where covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the worldwide economic slowdown are commanding the attention of policymakers in Western capitals, the bandwidth for new and expensive ideas is narrow. Zardari knows it’s a tough sell.

“I understand that the concept of a Green Marshall Plan might not have many players. But that doesn’t change the fact that I believe it genuinely is the solution,” he said. “We have to pause our geopolitical differences and unite to face this existential threat to mankind.”

The concept of investing in green infrastructure in a coordinated, global way is not new; but under the current plans, it’s not happening. Global promises to invest $100 billion in the Green Climate Fund for developing countries by 2020 have been broken.

And while humanitarian aid is not primarily about strategic competition, it is worth noting that China has its own project called the Green Silk Road, and that Beijing is pushing propaganda in Pakistan claiming it is more generous than the United States (which is not true). The need to counter Chinese influence was a big reason the White House hosted leaders of 14 Pacific Island nations this week, all of which are suffering disproportionately from climate change.

In Washington, Pakistan has become something of a pariah, following years of disagreements over Afghanistan and other issues. But the end of that war provides an opening for a rethink. To be sure, Pakistan’s democracy looks shaky at times — but then again, so does America’s. The two allies still share many long-term interests, and saving the planet should be at the top of the list.