CPEC: Moving forward, new threats

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Tariq Khalil

DRONE attack in Kurram Agency in March this year was the first in Trump regime. It has now been followed with many more in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The argument that it was meant to kill terrorists is not digestible. Apparently it is a test fire to see Pakistan’s reaction. It is important for Pakistan to convey strong response to ensure that follow up attacks will not shift to cities where Trump is blaming Haqqani net work or other Taliban leadership. If it happens due to portrayal of weakness, it be catastrophic. Unfortunately our response has been casual as usual. The diatribe by Trump is continuing. Latest threat to North Korea that the will be obliterated if they do not come in line is red signal for Pakistan as well, where he is equating Al-Qaeda and Taliban. It is a serious threat while he is blaming Pakistan. With two or three conciliatory statements coming from Pentagon should push us in a state of complacency.
The anger of US is on two counts. It’s failure to coerce Pakistan to fight their battle they are failing to win in Afghanistan and other is CPEC, and failure to lift India to isolate Pakistan. Indian has leashed its fury on line of control where Kashmiri youth has not been controlled and every passing day in-spite of hidden interest of USA and Europe human right organisations are voicing their concern. To internationalise Balochistan Indian RAW has redoubled its efforts, recent posters on taxies and buses in London are proof and in Balochistan old Punjab Card is being played and we witness fresh wave of terrorism incidents in which scores of Punjabi youth are killed. While defence forces are sacrificing their lives our Parliament is sleeping where not a single attention-notice is served. Ruling party leader in recent Congregations did no utter a single word on these terrorist activities.
Unfolding events in KSA and Middle East are likely to cause geo strategic ripples where US, KSA and Israel nexus may plunge whole region engulfed in a new war. US president during Asia Pacific tour witnessed his efforts getting commitment on new unfolding plan, a Phase two after 9/11 in which Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt stand destroyed, is beginning to be commenced. Impact on Pakistan will be the outcome. Pakistan will have to Charter it’s course on razors edge. In the region India need to divert world attention from Kashmir. Therefore not only pressures on LOC will increase but sabotage in Balochistan and also in Punjab.
There should be no doubt there are scores of sleeping cells just need activation. Increased terrorist attacks in Balochistan and North of Pakistan bear witness. The urban centres of Pakistan are extremely vulnerable, especially Karachi. The reports emanating from Afghanistan also suggest Pakistan should be ready to face a new wave of terrorism. Unfortunately weak political structure seems to be in confused and perplexed state. Quick decision making is lacking. Elements against Pakistan are likely to use this void. A fifth dimensional war has already been launched and imposed on Pakistan. CPEC will be targeted by vested interests. Pakistan and China need to counter this jointly.
CPEC is important for Pakistan for commercial and more so strategic reasons. It is more important to China for its grand strategic reasons, for its global reach, as waters of China sea and Indian ocean beside economic reasons are likely to be dominated beside US Strategic interests , and also India’s increased naval presence. Pakistan and China have larger interests at stake. For that firstly Pakistan must put its own house in order quickly. A strong political will is required to counter 5th dimensional war. Iron hand against corruption as it a proven fact that there is nexus between corruption, crime and terrorism. Our Navy must be strengthened and it’s posture from mere Defence to Offensive Defence be reviewed. That mean resource mobilisation. In this Pakistan must not only seek Chinese help but also turn to Russia for help. It will be natural move. To protect sea Pakistan must also increase PAF capability. As short and as long term necessity time is short.
In this regard Pakistan must also review its foreign diplomacy to be more active. It must be ready to counter Indian-exterior manoeuvres. So far Pakistan has successfully averted Indian effort to isolate Pakistan. Also in threat assessment we must not forget India’s ability to choke us water starved or glut are main lands with water. Internally our disaster management is far from satisfactory and Civil Defence Organisations are just on paper. While threats of war are looming, specially in a limited nuclear regime public awareness is totally missing.
—The writer, a retired Brigadier, is decorated veteran of 65 & 71 wars and a defence analyst based in Lahore.
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