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A dagger in every hand: why India must be wary of the Pak-China axis

Govind Chaturvedi | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:47 IST

The Pakistani establishment talks of waging a 1,000-year war against India. So, are we ever going to see peace in the region, or are the two countries doomed to be at loggerheads for centuries?

Nobody in the two countries seems to have an answer to this question. Maybe, not even god!

No matter who is at the helm of affairs in New Delhi and Islamabad, there is no end to the hostilities between the two nations. Even from a neutral perspective, the blame for this sorry state of affairs lies with Pakistan.

The most obvious reason for this is the Pakistan Army's dominance over the civilian authority.

Foreign secy cautions against Jihadis

Everybody knows who calls the shots in Rawalpindi (Pak army headquarters). Top Pak army generals danced to the tune of the USA till some years ago. Lately, China has snatched this distinction from Uncle Sam. Today, Beijing's influence, coupled with Jihadi organisations, rule the roost in the army's decision-making process.

Recent developments have only reaffirmed this fact. Take, for example, the purported secret meeting between top Pakistani leaders and military officials reported by The Dawn. It took place on the day Nawaz Sharif had called an all-party meeting to discuss the prevailing tensions with India.

Besides Sharif, the meeting was reportedly attended by senior-most ministers, diplomats, bureaucrats and army officials.

As per the details of the meeting leaked in the Pakistani media (which should be taken with a pinch of salt), Pakistani foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry summarised the results of the recent diplomatic outreach by Pakistan on Kashmir, and minced no words in stating that Pakistan faces diplomatic isolation and that the major world capitals are not willing to listen to its case.

Chaudhry also allegedly cautioned the civilian and military top brass that things are likely to turn worse for the country if it does not change its policy towards Jihadi elements.

Foreign secy Chaudhry cautioned that things would get worse for Pak if Jihadis aren't dealt with

He spelt out several reasons for this predicament, including the American insistence on tangible action against the Haqqani network. On India, Chaudhry clarified that the Pathankot investigation and some visible action against the Jaish-e-Mohammad were the principal demands. According to him, even Pakistan's 'all-weather' friend China has questioned the logic of repeatedly backing a UN ban on the terror group's leader Maulana Masood Azhar.

Chaudhry's extraordinary conclusions reportedly triggered an unprecedented verbal spat between the director-general of the ISI and civilian leaders. It came to a point where the ISI and the army were openly accused of working behind the scenes to shield the terrorists. Eventually, PM Nawaz had to intervene to salvage the situation. He is reported to have told ISI DG General Rizwan Akhtar that past policies were the collective responsibility of the State, and that he was not being blamed for the present situation.

The Prime Minister's younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Pakistani Punjab, unequivocally advocated strict action against extremist elements, if the Pakistani media is to be believed.

Finally, it was decided that the ISI DG and Pakistan's National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua will travel to each of the four provinces with a message for provincial apex committees and ISI sector commanders - that they should not come in the way of the arrest of Jihadi elements.

India must be on guard

The outcome of this decision is yet to be seen. However, India can ill-afford to let its guard down at this juncture. There is no doubt that national security is non-negotiable, no matter which party or PM is in power. But, it is futile to expect good behaviour when confronted by a sly adversary like China and its 'friend' Pakistan.

It is worth mentioning in this context that the younger Sharif is cosying up to China, even more than his brother. Both Shahbaz and General Raheel Sharif have made tall promises to safeguard the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project considered as a game-changer by Pakistan and China.

Gen. Raheel is due to retire in November. Shahbaz, along with China, is going to be a crucial factor in deciding whether his term would be extended or not.

India needs to be vigilant for the sake of our 'Acche Din' in the current scenario. Otherwise, we live in a neighbourhood where every hand carries a dagger.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 8 October 2016, 7:31 IST