Pakistan-China Friendship: A Game Changer
$46 billion is a lot of money. Its worth is certainly better realized if it is spent on physical projects rather than being secluded in the vaults of banks and in the electronic domain of financial institutions. If the economic corridor between Pakistan and China is implemented the way it is envisioned, the destiny of the common Pakistani will immensely change.
Globalization is the driving force in today’s world. The global market places already decide international commodity, equity, fixed-income security and derivative prices all over the world. Regulation of these markets has been diminishing even though it is understandable that significant crises can often occur without too many checks and balances. Still, the law of efficiency is dominating the world and there is pretty much nothing anybody can do to change it.
The rise of China has been a hot topic in the international press since quite some time. Who would have thought twenty years ago that Chairman Mao’s China would host the second highest number of billionaires (in $ terms) in the world? Who would have thought that giants like Japan and Germany would be overpowered by the resilient economy of the Chinese? The criticism is that innovation comes from elsewhere, namely the superpower of today. Apple could be considered as an epitome of innovation of the post dot com era. The headquarters of Apple lie in California, while the manufacturing of their products is done in China, the manufacturing company is collectively owned by Chinese, South Korean, Taiwanese and American investors. It is all about efficiency. The power of the private sector is increasing and its influence has surpassed consumer technology or industrialized products. Even in the domain of war, the private sector’s contribution cannot be discarded. Buying weapons and arms in the global market is as easy as it ever was since many organizations are heavily engaged in this business, regardless of which side their client fights for.
As soon as one mentions Pakistan, it is always remembered that we are a country faced by enormous conflicts. Without going into the reasons of why these conflicts exist, we can be rest assured that they are a threat to the sovereignty of our great nation. Whichever force has taken arms against the State; it seeks to destroy the very foundation of our unity, of our discipline and our progress. Everyone is fighting for their own power, rather than the liberation of their oppressed people. If not, which force would target infrastructure projects or innocent civilians if they were not working against the interest of our great nation. History has taught us that all conflicts must be resolved through a political and diplomatic solution. This government went out of the way to make this possible but what is one to do when one’s enemies are working on the behest of foreign, more powerful forces, which seek to destabilize our land and hinder any progress.
The two great powers of our time have a great interest in our beloved country. The US has immensely involved itself into our greater region and has chosen Pakistan as its most efficient and cooperative security ally. Even though tensions exist as they do between all countries, the US has to some degree cooperated with Pakistan’s security needs with some exceptions of course. Since the advent of the War on Terror, the US has provided around $20-25 billion in military aid while the true figure of civilian aid cannot be ascertained. As for our part of the bargain, we initiated war in our land and suffered a loss of over 50,000 innocent Pakistanis whose blood lies collectively on all of us. Furthermore, our loss to infrastructure lies somewhere in the region of $60-100 billion. Not a fair deal perhaps, but a deal nonetheless. Pakistan has continued to support the US in its global war against terror even at a profound cost to us, which has often times been greatly ignored.
Joseph Nye of Harvard University coined a term known as ‘soft power’. He describes this as the ability to use attractiveness rather than coercion as a means of persuasion. The soft power of the United States is truly phenomenal. A great majority of technological advancement has come from them and the world at large has immensely benefited from their efforts. The US has also been the dominant force in a great majority of global conflicts thus each nation has certain perceptions about the superpower and it’s core strengths.
China is very different from the US. Fundamentally, the constitutional laws, which govern both states, are entirely different. Their ideologies and their principles are somewhat at odds. While the US has been leader of the free markets, China has only recently entered the game of global capitalism. China hosts the world’s largest population, the world’s fastest growing economy and the world’s highest exports yet it has never been directly involved in major global conflicts since a long time. They are the new definition of efficiency without the great burdens of warfare.
The comparison between these great powers is still in its infancy stage. While the economies of both countries can be compared, the military strength cannot. As far as war is concerned, there is no greater power than the US. The US military-industrial complex is perhaps the most powerful lobby in the world, which is why it is not a surprise that US military spending surpasses the collective defense budget of the next biggest spenders combined. The US has meticulously placed itself in the strategic affairs of a great number of powers and thus it would not be unfair to say that the Pakistani leadership is well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both China as well as the US.
China seeks to compete with the US in the world’s manufacturing, online as well as energy business. China is by far the largest importer of oil and with it’s rising demand, it desperately seeks a fresh gateway to oil rich middle eastern states. There is no better gateway than Gwadar, the port which is already under their domain since 2013. Pakistan is the perfect platform for rising China as it is the only country, which can connect them to the greater world that too in a most efficient manner. The fear of rising India is well entrenched in the heart of both Pakistan and China and thus both of them have a mutual competitor. It seems almost uncanny that Obama chooses to go to Delhi, dilly dally with Modi and hop back to Washington without even a glimpse of Islamabad. Well, Islamabad is not that short of friends and the void left by President Obama can very easily be filled by President Xi.
What are the facts? The US is leaving Afghanistan after over a decade of intense combat and immense influence in this region. Pakistan and India have both developed into successful, continuing democracies and are thus less susceptible to foreign domination as they once might have been. China is growing at an astonishing pace and the west knows that it has to accept Chinese growth as a reality. A nuclear deal is under way with Iran thus chances of peace and stability in this region are vastly increasing. It would not be unfair to imply that this region is hot with activity, such which might benefit our great nation immensely.
What are our internal challenges? Primarily, our security situation is not ideal. We are fighting a war with in two of our provinces against armed militants, which seek to hinder our plans for any sort of development. Perhaps we are starting to feel that there is zero tolerance for dissent, especially when the stakes involve the future of our great nation but it would still be better if all enemies were treated equally, without favor and without implications of strategic depth.
The greatest threat to Pakistan’s security comes from the TTP, an organization that is responsible for thousands of unspeakable atrocities. Sectarian organizations also pose a great threat since their power structures are entrenched within our urban cities. Separatists of all kind are also enemies of our state as well as their people since they merely seek to control the resources of their land without consideration of their people, which is why they blow up infrastructure preojects and kill laborers while stealing the basic rights of our citizens.
10,000 military personnel are to be deployed to protect Chinese workers on Pakistani soil. This is a short-term solution. For the long term, we need to develop an atmosphere where peace and stability exists within each and every inch of Pakistan. This can be done if religious fundamentalism is crushed from its roots and our leaders groom a population, which is progressive, democratic and most importantly peaceful.
Pakistan is to China what Afghanistan is to Pakistan but Pakistan is not Afghanistan and China is not Pakistan. Wise words from someone who understands the term, ‘strategic depth’. Let the games begin.