It is not a cliché. It is a proven fact that India is involved in state-sponsored terrorism. Sabotaging CPEC is currently at the centre of India’s nefarious design. The arrest and confession of Indian RAW Agent Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav (also spelled Kulbhushan Yadav, pseudonym Hussain Mubarak Patel), who was caught in Balochistan in 2016, has fully exposed India. His disclosures about the presence of Indian saboteurs’ sleeper cells in Pakistan and terror financing raise questions about the western world’s engagement policy with India.
Pakistan’s dossier, reportedly containing irrefutable evidence of Indian state backing for acts of terrorism in Pakistan, may have become dusty in the United Nations records. What issues of international concern should receive the United Nations’ attention and which should be left to rot is decided or influenced by which UN Member(s) is an open secret.
It’s not just Kulbhushan Yadav’s confession but a person no less than Chuck Hagel, the former US Secretary of Defence, made a public disclosure about how India finances ‘troubles’ in Pakistan using Afghan soil. The Spokesperson of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), Ehsanullah Ehsan, also revealed the connection between the two terrorist organizations and the Indian intelligence agency RAW, as well as the role of the Afghan Security Agency in this equation.
Analyzing the killing of innocent Chinese engineers and other officials involved in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in the backdrop of the facts about Indian state-sponsored terrorism and India’s open opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its flagship project CPEC, should leave no doubts about who could be behind terrorist activities against Chinese workers in Pakistan and incidents of terrorism in Balochistan. Kulbhushan’s confession becomes more relevant.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, is part of China’s concept of global governance and a community of shared human future. The BRI is an expression of China’s geo-economic agenda that appears to be directed to foster a new type of international relations embedded in the principles of co-building, sharing, mutual consultation and inclusive development. CPEC is a massive multi-billion-dollar project that has transformative potential for both Pakistan and China. China and Pakistan have successfully transitioned CPEC to its second stage of development to operationalize BRI which aims to establish a web of regional and global connectivity. Besides this, CPEC also holds immense strategic importance to China. It offers China a secure and shorter trade route compared to the Strait of Malacca and reduces China’s dependence on the South China Sea.
However, CPEC is also enduring various challenges due to the nature of the international structure in which different actors seek to undermine their rivals. Against this backdrop, the security and stability of CPEC are also subjected to geo-strategic and political challenges. India since the outset has opposed CPEC even though on several occasions China has endeavored to invite India to partake in it. Although apparently, India’s discursive strategy for its opposition to CPEC is its claim that CPEC is passing through the disputed regions between India and Pakistan, India’s fervent antagonism to CPEC is due to its strategic and geopolitical ambitions. First, the success of the CPEC is likely to frustrate India’s regional hegemonic designs as CPEC allows China to play a meaningful role in South Asia. In relation to this, CPEC’s transformative capacity for Pakistan means a counterbalancing force against India. In this context, India is actively attempting to undermine CPEC despite its normative discursive strategy.
To begin with, the factor that exposes India’s involvement in disrupting CPEC is its intelligence operations in Pakistan. Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has established a special cell with an allocation of over 500 million dollars dedicated to undermining CPEC. These apparatuses are involved in intelligence operations and gathering sensitive operations about CPEC besides fostering anti-CPEC activities.
Similarly, India is also fostering ethnic conflict in Balochistan to make it CPEC’s Achilles heel. The province of Balochistan is a pivot of CPEC, and it is geographically adjacent to Afghanistan. Therefore, militancy and insurgency in Balochistan mean that it can endanger the entire project of CPEC. So, India is fueling insurgency in Balochistan by offering Baloch ethno-nationalist separatists with diplomatic resources, funding and arms. These insurgents are involved in attacking Chinese workers, officials, development projects and government infrastructure. Moreover, India has attempted to use the territory of Afghanistan to provide a haven and to train Baloch insurgents. India knows that Afghanistan is not only essential for the stability and security of Pakistan but also important to connect Gwadar to the ancient Silk Route through Central Asian states. Before the Taliban’s take over Afghanistan, India sought to work in collaboration with the National Directorate of Security (NDS) to sponsor terrorist activities in Pakistan. For instance, Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former senior commander for Tahreek Taliban Pakistan, said that India’s intelligence apparatus offered extensive help to TTP. India via its proxies is attempting to sabotage and destabilize CPEC.
In a similar manner, Indian immoral acts are also well enumerated in the report launched by the European Union DisinfoLab in December 2020, called “Indian Chronicles.” It uncovered a massive network involved in targeting Pakistan and CPEC. These operations resurrected media outlets, think tanks and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) whose main objective is to amplify content to undermine Pakistan. This indicates the magnitude and scale of the Indian campaign against CPEC.
In relation to this, India has also invested in developing an enormous perception crisis on CPEC through its extensive campaigns. This campaign is involved in the mass-level proliferation of misinformation against CPEC through social media networking sites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Its anti-CPEC perspective focused on the audience, especially in areas such as Gilgit-Baltistan, ex-FATA and Balochistan. Its content amplifies misinformation that China is likely to take over Pakistan’s areas such as Gwadar and Pakistan will be trapped in the Chinese debt trap. The function of this campaign was to create mistrust and anxiety among the people of Pakistan to build an anti-CPEC narrative and instigate uprisings.
Similarly, India’s antagonism to CPEC is also witnessed in the multilateral forums. During the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in July, the Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar coached its opposition to CPEC in the discursive strategy by emphasizing the violation of India’s sovereignty through BRI’s connectivity project. India’s discursive response against CPEC is its diplomatic endeavor to develop a narrative in the international forums that will challenge the legitimacy of CPEC. Despite this, the deconstruction of its strategic vocabulary and languages indicates a clear opposition to undermining the interests of China and Pakistan.
In a nutshell, contrary to its discursive strategy, India’s efforts to disrupt and sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor are evident. It has heavily invested itself through efforts such as intelligence apparatus, misinformation campaigns, proxy groups, diplomatic efforts and alliances to weaken CPEC. This has exposed its distaste for CPEC. New Delhi views the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC as strategic challenges to its hegemonic ambitions and geo-political challenges against which India is making efforts to undermine CPEC and China’s interests.