This is the second part of a two-article series on ‘Finding the elusive win-all solution in AfPak’, Part I of which can be found here.  Winning the ongoing war against overt terrorism apparently is the common win-all solution, however not so when one factors in covert intentions of involved state powers.

Afghanistan-China mutual interests

Other than regional peace, stability and China’s insatiable hunger for natural resources, as in Aynak copper mines in Logar province of Afghanistan; China also understands that Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan can’t make too many enemies simultaneously. It is no secret that Obama-administration and broader Western interests didn’t want him to win a ‘rigged’ or fair second-term in office. Relationship of Hamid Karzai with Pakistan is deteriorating, to put it mildly; and India remains a non-committal ally (in spite of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh speaking in Kabul that Afghanistan can ‘count’ on India last evening), in terms of governent resources and military capabilities. Again on a purely economic and stability context; China can offer win-win solution to Afghanistan. Afghanistan also surely realizes this, going by the charges of corruption made by Western interests, while deciding winner for the Aynak copper mines.

And unlike the West, where the US needs financial tightening more than the struggling European Union; China is flush with funds. It is not on the strength of borrowed printed money on the global status of the greenback as in the case of the US; for China it has, trillions of dollars of earned reserved money, on the strength of its economy.

So where does it all leave India? And what about the all important Western interests in AfPak? Can the Western interests and that of India converge for AfPak, without India sacrificing more, as a pawn, at the hands of the West?

India need not necessarily be in the losing side. It gives strategic bargaining tool to Indian policy-makers against the West. Since long, India has been treated at par with Pakistan in words; however when it came to measurable actions; Pakistan probably emerged as a clear winner, in terms of share of the physical cake. China is moving faster with nuclear power plants in Pakistan whereas Indian civilian nuclear treaty with the US seems to be grounded in terms of real progress; China recently acquired the Thorium-based and safer nuclear technology that would have served India better. Money and investment wise, China can be as important an ally as the West, probably better, as it is state controlled investments, and therefore not prone to market sentiments and shocks.

So the West may have sugar-coated its statements on India whereas clearly favoring Pakistan in terms of aid, and military assets. The West has also started treating India and China in different platforms over the last few years, after the hysteria of China-India comparison in local and global media found its natural burial. India remains the only hope to the West, if they believe they have strategic long term interests in the region.

Matter of fact is, India so far, has been a loser. There is distinct possibility that things can get worse for India if India continues with its ‘in no man’s land’ foreign policies influenced by significant Western ideologies. Unless India quickly adapts to the changing geopolitics of the regional alignment, without being able to convert the same threats and challenges to opportunities and strengths, India can indeed be the genuine real loser of the ongoing realignments in the region, left to lick its own wounds.

In spite of open diplomatic sweetness; behind the door, there may be discussions now on AfPak, based on developments in Pakistan, on picking friends based on common interests; and others – if not ‘enemies’, based on opposite diverging interests. The diplomatic sweetness has been missing, starting from May 1st, from the utterances of the US, the UK, and from Pakistan so far.

India, if cornered to such a situation, where Pakistan-China-Russia converges on their interests and India continues to hesitate in taking clear sides and thereby being ‘in no man’s land’, must extract that cost from the West; for the benefit of Indians and not for capitalist forces of Western interests alone. Irrespective of how India exploits the developments in its negotiation with the west; India must wake up to the ground reality of challenges in AfPak with regional realignments, and stand on its own, by aiming on strengthening ties with its neighbors, from bilateral to multilateral interests.

In the end, the choices for Pakistan, Afghanistan and even India are getting limited. They need to choose one – either the West, who may declare ‘achieved peace with honor in Afghanistan, and justice has been done to the 9/11 perpetrators’ any time now and start withdrawing; or a rising neighbor in China, who surely have long term interests in the region.  There is obviously a third option, better than these two, and that is – being able to stand on its own. However it is unlikely that imperialist interests from the West or from China would indeed and genuinely welcome that, without destabilizing covert efforts.

At the same time, it can be expected that China would not make the mistakes that both the USSR and the US have done in Afghanistan, since the late 1970s.

Needless to say, culturally and historically; India, Pakistan and Afghanistan have a lot of commons. Bollywood and Indian soapboxes surely do a better job in Pakistan and Afghanistan than Indian government machineries, in establishing the much-needed people-to-people ties.

Whoever they pick as strategic ally, they must not make the mistake of being pawn to those imperialists’ interests. Real stakeholders of AfPak actually are not the West, or China. The real winner or loser would actually be the people in ground in AfPak areas. Their interests must be protected first, before the interests of the others, to explore mutual benefits.

History, however, does not offer encouraging lessons that prove we have taken due learning from history, particularly in such complex games, with imperialists’ interests in play against states that resemble ‘failed states’.

The task indeed looks impossible. Achieving World Peace indeed sounds easier than finding win-all solution in Afghanistan. 

[The author deliberately excluded nuclear-aspiring, and emerging key player of the Middle-East, Iran on the western border of AfPak; and obvious Russian interests, be it to control terrorism in North Caucasus region or be it for obvious strategic interests at close proximity to Russia itself. The author acknowledges vital role for these two key players in AfPak sustainable solution, however including those interests in one single article gets beyond author’s understanding of the region]. 

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