Regional

BRICS and the Chinese game changer

Sep 6, 2017
The heat is on. Pakistan is now under fire from all sides, seemingly.
 
And it isn’t looking good. We have been spectacularly and, frankly unexpectedly, reprimanded at this week’s BRICS summit. Long time ally, and current cash cow, China was playing host. Just days before, Beijing and fellow BRICS member Moscow were publicly reminding the world of our sacrifices in fighting terror. Which made the public taking to task all the harder to swallow.
 
It wouldn’t have been so bad had the grouping simply named and shamed as a risk to regional security those foreign terrorist outfits said to be operating from Pakistan’s soil. We say this not to downplay how the very presence of such groups, be they remnants or otherwise, is evidence that the our security forces need to do more, regardless of what the Foreign minister says. It is easier for the state apparatus to attempt to wriggle its way out of the responsibility of patronage, at least at a rhetorical level. However, it becomes a different story with the inclusion of home-grown militant groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Laskhar-e-Taiba. Far harder for the security establishment, aided and abetted by a civilian leadership, to feign ignorance as to the threats posed by their proxies.
 
Yet we have been here so many times before. Is there actual cause for concern? True, even the Indian response was nothing we haven’t deservedly and previously encountered. What might pinch more this time around is the added leverage New Delhi now boasts in light of its increased role in Afghanistan as prescribed by Washington. Yet even there, we have legitimate concerns. And if it comes to it we can always be relied upon to conjure a reformed asset to back claims of RAW meddling in Balochistan.
 
The Chinese position, however, may represent the biggest game changer. It was a misstep according to some experts to include the Haqqani network on the list. Better to view this as a political group, they suggest. Yet as things currently stand – any potential mediatory role Beijing could have played in Afghanistan is jeopardised. But the Chinese understand this: money talks. They have in the past reportedly been in touch with the elements of the Afghan insurgency to protect infrastructure projects.
 
Yet what could prove problematic for Pak-Sino ties is the inclusion of Kashmir jihadists led by JeM. For let us not forget that it was at our behest that China twice stalled the UN process of designating the JeM’s leader a global terrorist. We would not blame Beijing if the BRICS statement was a direct message to us that — given all the cash it is injecting here — enough is enough. Sadly, Pakistan is also turning into a dangerous foreign outpost for Chinese nationals. Though we have a fair response when we tell the world that there has been a reported decrease in terror-related civilian deaths: that is, down by 80 percent in 2016 as compared with 2013, the year that CPEC was established, according to SATP figures. However, the key worry for Pakistan’s security establishment is if recent events are a message that we are approaching the end of the Chinese free lunch.
 
Thus who can say which way Beijing will tilt when the UN vote comes around again next year? Pakistan had better be prepared.
 
Daily Times, September 6, 2017

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