One of the most eminent celebrity journalists in the country answers questions from readers on his blog.
One reader asked: “Rajinder Puri says Pakistan can save itself from balkanization only through a federation with India where we have common defence including nuclear defence with Pakistan. I am sure you must have read about it, what’s your take on this?”
The celebrity replied: “Was this a satirical piece? Or was he being serious?”
Chastened by this contemptuous dismissal I had to reappraise my view. The eminence of the celebrity journalist, his access to information and his interaction with top leaders both domestic and international, left me with little choice.
My bleak view of Pakistan’s future arose from the simmering protest in Baluchistan, the virtual breakdown in its northwest region, the rising terrorist insurgency that has infiltrated sections of the army, the separatist sentiment growing in its insurgent regions, its growing alienation from the US which threatens curtailment of aid, and its woeful domestic economy. There were also voices close to the Pentagon advocating a restructuring of the Middle East including Pakistan.
I thought that Pakistan would best stabilize by arriving at a close economic and defence relationship with India and Bangladesh. It seems I was wrong.
There is another option open before Islamabad that would allow Pakistan to survive, if not in substance, certainly in name.
|There is no dearth of Indians who would welcome China, Pakistan and India as one economic block. Among them are Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi who dominate the UPA government and alliance.
Visiting Xingjian in China after recent criticism by Beijing about Pakistan based Uighurs spreading terrorism in that province President Zardari told a Chinese TV channel: “I have a great dream that Chinese can travel to Pakistan without passports. We are looking at energy coming to China through us.” He explained that Pakistan wants to be the connecting route for crude oil supply to China from across the world. The only common border between China and Pakistan is through the disputed territory of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). The northern regions of POK are adjacent to the southern part of Muslim dominated Xingjian. Indian objections against Chinese activity in this disputed territory are dismissed by Beijing with contempt. China continues to furiously invest in developing infrastructure and transport communication in POK to integrate it with China.
President Zardari’s dream opens the possibility of Pakistan becoming a de facto colony of China. Doubtless there are powerful elements in America that would encourage this dream. These are elements that have subverted America itself in order to make it hostage to Beijing. The global corporate lobby, which I have frequently described as the real axis of evil, refuses to factor into its calculations political empathy among different peoples. It seems obsessed with expanding markets it can exploit. It ruined the European Union by destroying De Gaulle’s original concept of banding together 15 mainly Catholic European nations that shared history and geographical contiguity. The mindless expansion of the European Union creating larger markets has destroyed that concept leaving just Germany and France as the core of a fragile arrangement.
Simultaneous to President Zardari’s dream is the reported proposal by the government appointed interlocutors in Kashmir to restore the pre-1953 autonomy of the state in order to stabilize it and help settle with Pakistan. This would be very welcome if the Pakistan army would fully cooperate with India. Instead the overall context suggests that such autonomy would be under the shadow of Pakistan sucked in by China as President Zardari seeks.
Interestingly enough, many Pakistanis among the ruling elite oppose similar close ties with New Delhi for fear of being gobbled up by India. The prospect of close ties with people having the same language and culture terrifies them. They seem to feel more comfortable being propped up by the Chinese who have never historically had close cultural ties with the subcontinent. But with China as the Big Brother, Pakistan with encouragement from corporate America might countenance close ties with India. There is no dearth of Indians who would welcome China, Pakistan and India as one economic block. Among them are Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi who dominate the UPA government and alliance.
At the heart of this arrangement is the great ideological divide about the kind of world order we want. Globalization has rendered the eventual emergence of a world order inevitable. The dream of one world order goes back to the 1930s when Wendell Wilkie espoused “One World”. After he lost the 1940 Presidential election to Roosevelt he was appointed ambassador at large to propagate this view as an antidote to imperialism and war. The question is whether the eventual world order should be imposed by a centralized economy at the cost of political sentiments as the corporate world wants, or should it evolve through a federal approach which respects nationalism and cultural differences. The former would rely on imposition, the latter on evolution.
By the manner in which New Delhi is seeking closer economic ties and even a strategic economic alliance with Beijing, even as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to bully and threaten India on the Line of Actual Control and on the high seas, suggests that through actions rather than words Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is furthering the Indian chapter of President Zardari’s dream. A union comprising China, Pakistan and India would of course ensure stability and peace. It is just that India would cease to have any real independent role globally and become along with Pakistan a vassal state of China. Perhaps the government and many other Indians would consider this a small price to pay for achieving peace and prosperity. There would be no dearth of businessmen encouraging them.