Syed Qamar A Rizvi
IT goes without an exaggeration to say that the role, the Indian RAW has been playing against Pakistan in the recent decade, particularly after 9/11 has had some profound impact on deteriorating relationship between India and Pakistan. The latest estimate given by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Zubair Mehmood Hayat holds sufficient warrants to establish this truth. The CJCSC said, RAW wanted to create instability in Balochistan and targeting China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Peace and tranquility in Afghanistan is key for security of the region’’, he asserted.
RAW over the years has tried to destabilise Pakistan via Balochistan, thereby making an unbridled export of terrorism. Afghanistan has been RAW’s operational corp. RAW’s Afghan role is beefed up by Modi’s government manifested by RAW’s doctrine of espionage. The RAW, being an important instrument of India’s foreign policy, RAW’s aim has been to intrinsically target Pakistan via Afghanistan. The ongoing game of tacit understanding between Washington and New Delhi seems to have highlighted RAW’s Afghan trajectory.
To protect India’s interests, Washington presses Pakistani government (as indicated by the current Defence Bill passed in the US House of Representatives) to take action against Haqqani group. A devious TTP- ETIM-RAW- NDS nexus against Pakistan and the CPEC reflects enough light to understand the ongoing dirty game. Chuck Hagel, the former US Secretary Defence in 2011 said that India has been using Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. “India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border, and you can carry that into many dimensions.”
India has been assigned a tag by the US as the regional hegemon of South Asia. Its role in Afghanistan has often been seen as a hegemonic tendency and the pillars of Indian foreign policy in the region are supported by the US. Editor of Strategic Affairs Journal Pragati, Fushant K. Singh says: “An Indian military involvement in Afghanistan will shift the battleground away from Kashmir and the Indian mainland. Targeting the jihadi base will be a huge boost for India’s anti-terrorist operations, especially in Kashmir both militarily and psychologically. Daniel S. Markey in his book, No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad, writes: “An unstable Pakistan that feels jilted by the United States would be an albatross around India’s neck and a costly obstacle to America’s ambition for a peaceful, prosperous region in which India plays a major, if perhaps independent-minded, role.”
Notably, William Dalrymple, in his famous book The Deadly Triangle: India, Pakistan and the Future of Afghanistan, has rightly said “If you grow vipers in your back yard, you’re going to get bitten”. Afghanistan is Pakistan’s backyard and Pakistan does not want the growth of wipers there to bite it and to damage its interests. Nonetheless, the ongoing CPEC economic evolution has upped the Indian ante towards Pakistan. Modi’s administration has some uncharted fears: First, India cast apprehensions that CPEC may result in internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute, and China – with its tremendous influence both in Asia and in the international community – would eventually win the Kashmir dispute in favor of Pakistan, safeguarding and guaranteeing the integrity of CPEC, in which Beijing has invested $46 billion.
Second, India is sensitively worried that CPEC would bring economic boom and growth for Pakistan, its traditional and historical nemesis. Pakistan’s GDP growth is likely to increase to 5.7% in 2017 thanks to CPEC investments. An economically strong Pakistan that is attractive to a huge inflow of foreign investments may fundamentally reshape the balance of power in Asia and decrease India’s role in the region, thereby limiting India’s geopolitical opportunities. Third, India is highly concerned about China’s military presence in the Indian Ocean. Whereas, the CPEC project will enable China to get direct access to the Arabian Sea, which could consequently embolden the Chinese to substantially step up their military presence there, something that India deems as an existential threat. Fourth, India seems worried that China is planning to use the Gwadar port deepsea port located in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
Against the US-India geostrategic calculations, General Stanly Mcrystal, former Commander of ISAF, believes that Indian presence in Afghanistan will create security concerns for Pakistan. He states, “Increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures.” India is advancing its ambitions in Afghanistan in the economic, strategic and social spheres, and thus posing a threat to regional peace and stability. In spite of all the Indian moves, Pakistan still enjoys a position of great significance for peace and progress in Afghanistan.’’ More truly, the courage of Pakistan armed forces always rises with every Indian attempt to intimidate them. While the Trump administration is reviewing Pak-Afghan policy, Washington needs to rebalance its disinterested approach towards Pakistan, thereby enhancing the significance of Pakistani role in the development of regional peace.
Instead of extending RAW’s negative trajectory in the region, a new pragmatic thinking should be explored by the Indian policy thinkers to benefit from China’s soft power diplomacy in South Asia. If New Delhi is unable to persuade other nations to abandon the OBOR, one practical approach is to get involved in the initiative in a bid to promote the development of the OBOR in a direction that is favourable to India. As Global Times has rightly suggested ‘’New Delhi should consider accepting the olive branch Pakistan has extended in a bid to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.
Syed Qamar A Rizvi