Wednesday, September 07, 2011

India's Pakistan appeasement policy - The China factor

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Continued from previous post relating to Pakistan appeasement policies by Mombatti brigade

By - Rudra Devacharya

The state of Pakistan, or at least those groups with the capacity to exercise any sort of central authority there, have lost confidence in their ability to preserve the identity and viability of Pakistan. Allah, Army and America were the pillars of the state, the guarantors of its survival through the previous century.  Today Allah and Army are fighting each other in a purer-on-pure conflict, and America is repeatedly sticking bamboos in the butt of the Pakistani state.  The present and potential ruling elite,  the empowered classes, are in a state of panic, reaching out desperately to all sorts of potential benefactors to guarantee the continuance of their empowered status. These include:

A) Maha-Islampasand Pakis: including many within ISI and Paki-army, who are still holding out in the hope that a pan-Ummah caliphate can be established and subsume present-day Pakistan. However, this group is grappling with twin calamities that have publicly exposed and undermined the fantastic and unsustainable nature of their goals; firstly, the exhaustion of fighting a ten-year war against drones, airstrikes, Afghan National Army (ANA) artillery and US special forces in the Northwest, and secondly, the crisis of credibility that has resulted from the decapitation strike against Bin Laden. Additionally, the increasing transformation of the Taliban into a Pashtun nationalist movement has undercut the legitimacy of the Maha-Islampasand Pakis' argument that being Purest of All is the solution to saving Pakistan.

B ) Chinipakis: the remaining portion of Paki-army and ISI, plus many elements of the "Pakistani anglicised elite" political class (such as Zardari) who are relying on the Chinese to save the day. They are the ones doing their damndest to mortgage the whole Pakistani state as the newest province of China. These, from the Indian point of view, may be the most dangerous... for reasons I will go into later. They are playing for a coup. a two-front war prosecuted by China and Pakistan against India, that will at once humiliate India, make America less relevant, and seize Kashmir in a move that will confer political legitimacy on the leadership claims of the Chinipaki group.

C) Pro-West Pakis: A very small number of Paki elite and Paki-army who are still pro-America, and cling to the hope that America will not leave the used condom shredded  in the garbage when it pulls out.

D)India tolerating Paki-liberals: An even smaller number of Paki elite who are, not pro-India, but at some level hope that India can sort things out and save Pakistan's skin (since the alternatives are all worse.) These are the Pak-tea-house type Paki liberals, who still hate India and Hindus, who still justify the creation of Pakistan, but all said and done feel more affinity for India than for China, Ummah or America.

E)Les petit-bourgeoise (small zamindars and lower middle class): A substantial number of Pakis who do NOT belong to the traditional echelons of power, i.e.Army/ISI Top-Brass or "anglicised political elite" class;  and who still hold out the hope that Pakistan as they once knew it can survive all this. Of all the categories this is the ONLY social class which actually has a vested interest in the survival and success of Pakistan as an *independent* nation state when all is said and done. They also consist of a les petit-bourgeoise (not-exactly-middle) class, ranging from shopkeepers to professionals and bureaucrats to smaller landowners who are not quite big enough to be "anglicised political elite" class" in the Zardari/Sharif mould.

What India is trying to accomplish is not "strategy", at least not a Pakistan strategy that is viable in the long term. What India is trying to do is to make the best of a bad situation and strengthen Section D by drawing Pakis of Section E to it. We are playing to gain time, and avoid a two-front war with Pakistan+China; not to destroy Pakistan or redeem Pakistan or reclaim POK or any of those grand designs. We are playing for time. That is all.

Section A is hopeless, and gives us entertainment value (IED blasts in Pakistan, Drone strikes in FATA) at best while  conducting terrorist attacks against Indian targets at worst.

Section B is very, very dangerous and their plans must be thwarted at ALL costs.

Section C is small enough to ignore entirely as a power bloc, but they may serve some limited purpose in advancing those few aspects of the Indian and American agendas that overlap. 

However, there is still some hope for Section E (along with Section D) to create the sort of temporary respite that might postpone the inevitable collapse of Pakistan for a few decades, while neither engendering an overwhelmingly dangerous situation on our borders nor swamping us with a massive humanitarian disaster just as we are beginning to make economic progress.

Section E, it must be noted, does have considerable presence in the paki-army... the sons of petit-bourgeoise Pakistanis who joined the armed forces, and who have lost confidence in the Elite-origin generals to run the country after seeing the disaster perpetrated over the last ten years. Some of these Section E Pakis may even be as high up as Brigadier and Major General. These guys, as well as the Section C (pro-US) Paki-army brass, are the intended audience of our dovishness that everyone from Dr. Manmohan Singh to B Raman to Bharat Karnad have been prescribing ("non-threatening posture" et al.) 

India is hoping that these Section E Paki-Army officers will become a pro-Indian (or at least, "not-anti-Indian") constituency, and forestall the designs of either Section A Maha-Islampasand elements of Paki-army, or Section B Chini-pasand elements of Paki-army.

Make no mistake, the Section D/E Pakis do not love India, they do not necessarily favour forgive-and-forget with India, they do not necessarily see the Indian position on Kashmir as justified; but they DO see that India/Kashmir is far from the greatest problem that Pakistan faces right now, and they will take India's help in strengthening their position to ward off those other, bigger problems. For now. Or so India hopes.

So. Why are Section B are the MOST dangerous Pakis?

Because it may be that China really wants a war. Preferably against India, with Pakistan as its ally.

China has been acting for the last several years, more aggressively than ever towards all its neighbours. Not ONE conciliatory move is made, but panga is taken with Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines AND India at every opportunity. Why?

Because China or at least, one very powerful faction in the Chinese govt, including the PLA, is convinced that China needs a war. 

Why does this faction think China needs a war?

It's like this. Throughout the 1990s, the Chinese accumulated what they thought was going to be their greatest source and permanent guarantee of wealth; forex reserves of Western currencies, and more importantly, debt owed by Western governments. Mainly the US government.

That component, the debt holdings, in the form of US treasury bonds and such, grew enormously through the 2000s, as the US borrowed money to finance its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Chinese export markets in the US also grew enormously in the 2000s until things reached a point where Chinese industries relied on US consumer markets to absorb a very large portion of their output.

When the 2008 financial crisis hit the Western world, especially the US, China's b@lls went into their mouth. It was a double-threat for China. On the one hand, all the US debt they held could become devalued in case of a depression. On the other hand, if US consumers stopped buying things, Chinese industries (which relied on US markets to absorb their output) would suffer. The resulting impact felt at home, by the Chinese economy, could have devastating consequences for a totalitarian regime.

What option does a country have when so much of its wealth is in the form of debt? It must monetize the debt. It must turn the debt into something real, as soon as possible, before that wealth (in the form of treasury bonds) becomes more and more devalued as a result of its debtor's financial troubles.

How can China monetize the debt it holds? Here are some ways.

1) It can demand that the US pay up. But the US doesn't have money. If the US prints money, then China's own holdings become further devalued (as it happened with QE2, which further aggravated the situation.)  Same for other Western countries, such as EU nations, which are also reeling financially.

2) It can print money and inject it into its own economy to increase domestic consumption. But this will inevitably lead to inflation, and cause civil unrest. Very bad idea, beyond narrow limits. Keeping tight control over money supply is much healthier from a totalitarian regime's point of view.

3) It can invest money into tinpot countries and gain goodwill. To some extent China has been doing this. But sooner or later, some returns have to be there no? So far, what returns have been generated by China's magnanimous projects in Sudan, Zimbabwe etc.? 

4) It can start a war. It can arm up, invest wholesale in defense R&D, in procurement of foreign weapons systems and manufacture of its own weapons systems. And it can use these weapons systems in the pursuit of other kinds of power i.e. geostrategic power. An additional benefit to this method of monetizing its debt is that it does not lead to civil unrest (at least as long as China can claim victory) but rather, to an upsurge in jingoistic nationalism that strengthens the position of an authoritarian government. 

There you have it. Starting a war is likely considered a good option, given the prevailing economic situation, by a powerful faction within the ruling establishment of China. The US and West do not care if China starts a war with India; it will damage two of their biggest competitors. And Pakistanis of Section B, above, very much want this to happen and want to participate on the Chinese side.

The ONLY thing that would make the Chinese hesitate in starting a war with India would be India's possession of a credible nuclear deterrent. And what has Bharat Karnad, Dr. Santhanam told us few months ago about India's thermonuclear bomb, between the lines, about that?

In summary, I am guessing that the GOI has understood all this. It understands that the danger of a two-front aggression by China and Pakistan is not just real but imminent. It has calculated that we cannot win, and that we cannot count on external help to win. It may have calculated (ref: Dr. Santhanam) that we do not even have a credible nuclear deterrent to prevent this from happening.

So in a sense, just as we are the only hope for Pakis of Sections D and E, Pakis of Sections D and E are our only hope to avert disaster. That's why we're seeing the appeasement policies.

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