24 Jun 2012

The Pak-China and USA Algorithm

The USA can do more to put pressure on Pakistan to act on terrorists. One way of doing so is by involving China in the equation.
The news about a certain level of breakdown in the Pakistan-China ties has been in the newspapers for the last couple of days. Despite the excited editorials in every daily about the issue, this crisis, excuse the exaggeration, is far from anything anybody should be excited about. The consequences of deteriorating Pak-China relations, when studied keeping in mind the various geo-political and economic factors, are not positive globally.

One of the most important geo-political factors that needs to be kept in mind is the decision of the United States to showcase a close relationship of sorts with Pakistan to the international media. The prime reason for this is, of course, the continued reluctance on the part of the Pakistani administration to take concrete action against the terrorist havens which still continue to exist in the country resulting in an increase in the number of drone attacks carried out by the USA on Pakistani territory.

A major roadblock to the Pakistan government's resolution to eliminate terrorism is the conservative view of world affairs held by many in the top brass of the Pakistan Army, the de-facto decision-maker at times. However due to this insistence on non-acknowledgement of the existence of terrorist havens in the country, the relations between Pakistan and its once upon a time all weather friends are certainly being tested.

New reports indicate that, along with the many anti-India and anti-West terrorist havens that operate in the south-east Asian country, many Uighur sympathizers have also set up havens for the struggle against the Chinese government in the province of Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has repeatedly made its displeasure over the existence of such anti-China institutions in the country known to the Pakistan government. Yet, due to rampant corruption and sympathizers within the administration, not much has been done in this regard resulting in a continued anti-China resistance in Xinjiag with majority of the support received by the protestors being traced back to Pakistan.

Though this is primarily an area of conflict between Pakistan and China, the US authorities must also keep a keen eye on the developments surrounding these incidences. Despite the inability of many western countries to convince Pakistan to cancel terrorism as a state policy, China has to an extent succeeded or at least performed better than the other western countries, considering the drop in the number of terrorist/freedom struggle incidences now reported in China which can be traced back to Pakistan.

Adopting such an approach of being convinced that there has been a drop in the above mentioned activities appears optimistic considering the lack of information coming out of China. However, when we look at the situation in the context of national security, there has been a slight shift in allied positions from the USA to China under President Zardari's regime. Though the shift is not absolute, it is easily noticeable.

Thus, despite the numerous long term concerns that the White House may have regarding Pakistan's closeness to China, it is only sensible in the short run to encourage greater Pakistan-China engagement on terrorism as that might be the only possible way to deter Pakistan from hosting terrorists on its soil. The fear of being isolated internationally, withdrawal of US and western world's support from major contracts and treaties internationally without adopting sanctions as a means of approach and at the same time portraying China as a reluctant ally of Pakistan would be the most surrealistic of all possible methods to get the Pakistani administration started on its fight against terrorism.

However as surrealistic as the above scenario may sound, it is possible for the United States to manipulate its positions a bit to get a more positive response from Pakistan. An example of such a manipulation would be to stress the importance of banishing terrorism from all forms of practice to the new Chinese Premier and President (both Mr Jiabao and Mr Jintao handing over power to their successors during the year) while at the same time steering clear of the human rights aspect of the situation in Xinjiag. Such a manoeuvre by the USA would ensure that enough pressure is put on Pakistan to curb terrorist activities while at the same time, it won't be seen as the US stepping back on its demand for human rights and their implementation all over the world.

Though idealistic, only such manoeuvres have been known through out time to change the course of history as we know it.