Pak is a needless distraction: China is the real enemy

By Sanjeev Nayyar

Consider this sequence: Pakistanis behead a dead Indian soldier. Congress tries to play it down, but TRP-hungry media latches on to it. War veterans and foreign policy experts debate on TV, talk war.

Congress wakes up to electoral dangers. PM says it cannot be business as usual with Pakistan. Government sends three messages to the Pakistanis that are inconsequential and a joke. Peace lovers wake up. The dialogue must continue!

India will pretend to be angry for a few months, stop the dialogue and make brave statements. Reuters

India will pretend to be angry for a few months, stop the dialogue and make brave statements. Meanwhile, Aman ki Aasha activists will make candlelight marches to the Wagah border. The armed forces will rue the fact that the political class lacks guts and will to order modern weapons.

A few months later, gullible Indians will be told that a stable and strong Pakistan is in India’s interest, and dialogue must resume.

I have seen this sequence play out so often that I refuse to take any government seriously.

If I were a Pakistani I would observe: “Tum Bhartiya kiss mitti ke bane ho? Inspite of being a smaller country we have humiliated you so badly yet you want to be friends with us.”

“We supported the Khalistani movement (21,629 dead between 1981 and 2011), jehad in Kashmir (43,273 dead from 1989 to 19 August 2012, according to, the 1993 Mumbai blasts (257 dead), Kargil, the Kandhahar Indian Airlines hijack, the 2001 attack on Parliament (11 dead), the Godhra burnings (59 dead, Did Godhra save Pakistan?),  the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack (25 dead), the 2006 Mumbai train blasts (209 dead), and the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks (186 dead), not to speak of training of Indian jehadis, pumping fake currency/narcotics into the country, cultivating sleeper cells and giving refuge to criminals like Dawood Ibrahim, among others.”

The Pakistani would add that we “also aligned with Beijing and other powers, in a mutually beneficial scheme, to tie down and ultimately cause a territorial split of the Indian Union”.

Instead of taking action (see Eight ways to hurt the Pakistani economy), the BJP and UPA governments made peace with Pakistan, at any cost, a cornerstone of their foreign policies. By talking to military generals, India legitimised their position both within and outside the country.

Sadly, Indian politicians are unable to deal with Muslim Pakistan just as was the case with the Congress in the pre-partition era. They are sandwiched between protecting Bharat and pandering to a Muslim votebank. Their approach reflects a complete lack of understanding of the sub-continental minority mindset. Our policymakers haven’t even read Dr BR Ambedkar’s masterpiece Thoughts on Pakistan. Written in 1941, it is as relevant today as it was then. (Read some excerpts here).

Due to successive wars and acts of terror, the Indian aam aadmi had begun to see Pakistan as enemy number one. A cricket match with Pakistan was like war. Chetan Sharma is still not forgiven for letting Miandad score a six off the last ball in a Sharjah match. At every turn, economically or militarily, Pakistan tried to seek parity with India. They nearly succeeded!

Things began to change towards the turn of the century, and especially after 9/11. India’s economic growth, and enhanced brand equity due to the IT and manufacturing sectors, made the country race ahead while Pakistan was busy with the after-effects of 9/11. It continued to make export of terror a basic instrument of state policy. Saurav Ganguly’s team sealed it, so to speak, by beating the Pakistanis on home ground in 2004.

However, the downturn in the Indian economy, the PM’s idealism, 26/11, international (read:US) pressure and continued Chinese support to Pakistan have set the clock back again.

Importantly, in the minds of the common man and the Armed Forces, Pakistan is pitted as India’s enemy number one once more. By benchmarking ourselves against a rogue neighbour—one smaller in size, GDP and innovation— we have lowered the bar for ourselves and overlooked our real enemy: China.

Pakistan is a Chinese pawn cultivated by the latter to keep us tied down to the sub-continent. This is to prevent India from realising its full potential, fulfil its global ambitions or be a competitor to China. It also compels India to prepare for a multi-front theatre in the event of war with either country.

China and Pakistan have long-standing strategic ties. Here are a few examples of how Chinese support emboldened Pakistan to become what it is today.

  • In the 1990s, China designed and supplied the heavy water Khusab reactor, which plays a key role in Pakistan’s production of plutonium. China also provided technical and material support for the completion of the Chashma Nuclear Power Reactor and plutonium.
  • China built a turnkey ballistic missile manufacturing facility near Rawalpindi, and helped Pakistan develop the 750-km-range solid-fuelled Shaheen-1 ballistic missile.
  • The Chinese built a heavy mechanical complex and aeronautical complex.
  • They have developed more lethal plutonium-based nuclear weapons.
  • The JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft is currently under serial production at the Pakistan aeronautical complex.
  • In September 2010, 7,000-10,000 PLA (Chinese) troops were deployed to Gilgit–Baltistan region in northern Pakistan to help rebuild areas devastated by the 2010 floods.

Assume that Pakistan was not given the above and see how Indo-Pakistani dynamics change?

India needs to change its line on Pakistan. Besides expressing anger through concrete action, it must tacitly support and accentuate differences within Pakistan, including Balochistan and other  non-Punjabi areas of Pakistan that are outside effective government control. This will weaken Pakistan and, in turn, Beijing, something that should gladden the international community. It should stop the export of livestock, which will raise meat prices in Pakistan, and reduce the depletion of India’s livestock.

A country that stands in one place (always professes peace) is going to be continuously attacked and become a habitual defender. Can India become a country on the move, one that keeps its friends guessing and takes the battle into the enemy camp?

Nice guys do not win matches! Ask Vijay Amritraj, India’s ace tennis player of the 1970s. Only if you respect and love yourself will the world do likewise.





The author is a national affairs analyst and founder of

Updated Date: Jan 19, 2013 16:11 PM

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