Since year 2011 I have been painting a scenario where in China will get deeper and deeper into Pakistan. Its been the case for many decades that China has been the "thick" friend of Pakistan - especially military and exclusively on nuclear and missiles capabilities of Pakistan. Bhutto's Islamic Bomb has many Chinese elements is well-established.
When I wrote the scenario in 2013 January, it was just a struggling Pakistan and the military had just started talking about internal militancy as a major threat. My contention was China will be the biggest threat Pakistan has and the contours of that threat will emerge as the Dragon start holding and engulfing its prey in its rapidly vibrating tongue.
Today we have two specific initiatives that makes the scenario more and more plausible.
My timeline for Chinese occupation was 2017-2022. But with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) becoming a major future - to be developed with Chinese Money (please see the article Here) I must say it may happen much before the year 2022 - the Chinese occupation of Pakistan. Well this Occupation will definitely be "friendly". Further there is element of Military in this CPEC. For example an article Here says,
"Like most things in Pakistan, the CPEC (despite its name) is as much about security as it is about economy. These roads can be used for movement of troops and landing of aircraft in the event of a war. Since we are never sure which of our borders is more problematic at any given time, the more the routes, the merrier; also, the further apart they are, the better."
Second initiative is the Gwadar Port develpment. With Billions of Dollars from China, Gwadar port is a fortress says the NDTV headline.The article states
"Securing the planned $46 billion economic corridor of roads, railways and pipelines from northwest China to Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast is a huge challenge in a country where Islamist militants and separatist gunmen are a constant menace."The Chinese can not afford to let Pakistan go. Their Silk Road revival plan and the rapidity at which they are executing it is at stake. My article at Indian Defence Review on China's Silk Road initiative can give a view of what is happening.
The Scenario was proposed in 2011 -
Article written in January 2013
China Takes Pakistan – A Scenario by 2017-2022
In the long run Pakistan's greatest enemy will prove to be neither India nor internal militancy, it will be China. The recent focus by Pakistan claiming internal militancy to be number one enemy – and a doctrinal shift away from India may be of importance for Pakistan’s internal consumption. However, what may not be clear even to Pakistan army/ISI/Controllers of Pakistan is the fact that it may be prudent for Pakistan to have doctrinal focus on China.
Scenario: Pakistan supported, penetrated and engulfed by China - 2017-2022 timeframe
The process of Chinese support to Pakistan is an ongoing process. Since 2010, China has 11000 soldiers in POK. This is close to 2+ Infantry brigades equivalent strength. Chinese are involved in building the Gwadar port – a very strategic conduit to middle-east and of course to Africa as well. Besides, China has been providing arms and ammunition to Pakistan Military forces for many decades now. Chinese are in. They are considered the thick friends by Pakistani Military.
Key factors making the above scenario likely:
USA is a declining superpower. The Obama win in the Presidential elections might have delayed the demise little bit. In 2017, there will be a new US President. Most likely it will be a republican President. US Forces will leave Af-Pak by 2014 creating a sudden military vacuum. This will be filled by Talibans in the most atrocious manner one can imagine. By 2017, Pakistan military will seek more and more support from China as China already is the largest supplier to Pakistan. China will enter, embed itself and bring-in its strategy of changing the population ratio – as clearly implemented in Tibet, systematically. Pakistanis may start learning Chinese by 2017.
China is pursuing Deng’s reforms of 1978. The Deng reforms very clearly articulate the “superpower” phase that China will has entered since the start of this century. A new type of Superpower is the design. To fulfill the Superpower by 2050 dream, will require secure, fast and wide access to Africa because of its natural resources – untapped. Also, China will need access of markets in other part of world. Karakoram highway is already open to China. China will need to build fast goods trains from Karachi, Gwadar and Pasni to Karakoram. It will also require the land transport to be safe and secure. By 2022 China has to achieve that. Their Superpower design is at stake.
Pakistan is failing if not already a failed state. Living under drones 24x7 has made many Pak-Afghan areas border residents anti-US. The people also may be shifting towards Chinese, thinking of China to be their long-term savior. With Pakistan completely under China, it will be very difficult for India to be of consequence in the new “Chinese world”. With India curtailed, China will pursue its world dominance economically and otherwise. If Pakistan does not go to China, it is but a matter of few years that Pakistan will be divided into 3 or 4 independent countries. These countries may fight with each other. This will not allow China to access the sea-routes to the world at large. Deng’s algorithm for China does not allow Pakistan to get away from Chinese hands. China is slowly, steadily and systematically getting ready to do a “Tibet” on Pakistan. However, this time, China is pursuing the mission with great patience.
Impact on India
Pakistan was created as “non-India”. Non-India is an identity that Pakistan would like to preserve. However, that identity is in grave danger from multiple dimensions - the greatest dimension being the China’s superpower quest and design. India needs to fight it out in multiple ways. China taking over Pakistan is order of magnitude more dangerous for us compared to Tibet overtaken by China. Today, Hindus from Pakistan are seeking asylum in India. From 2017 onwards, there will be an influx of Pakistanis Muslims - in India – they would be terrorized by Talibans and then controlled by China – hence they would be forced to run away. Indian culture, language and even mannerisms are similar and Pakistanis will be more than happy to be assimilated in India. However, China, having taken up control of Pakistan, will not stop at that. China will start looking at Arunachal Pradesh and eastern parts of India as well. This will be a very dangerous scenario for India.
Options for India
Assimilate Pakistan in India by force – most readers will laugh at this suggestion. However, this thought has been proposed by press council of India’s Chairman, Mr. Katju. I am not sure about his drivers, however, instead of letting China take over Pakistan just like we allowed in Tibet, uniting Pakistan with India is a rather more promising option. However, the “how” to do it, is the key question. Second, do we have sufficient national willpower to execute this.
Should we join US in China containment? Should we become the new frontline state of US, just like Pakistan became against soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Of course, we may not become, but some element of cooperation with US and rest of the world powers in not letting China get Pak, needs to be carried out. Diplomacy, military power and economic factors need to be analyzed and a holistic response needs to be created.
Do nothing. Let us react to this when it happens. This is a highly unlikely scenario; we will see when it happens. If the reader is from Indian government think tanks, policy makers and executing agencies, I can see their response. However, in this case, waiting for the crisis to happen may not be a correct measure. Remember, India’s very existence may be at stake.
Crisis avoidance is better than disaster management. Crisis leads to disasters. If we can see the crisis, a crisis avoidance blueprint needs to be created and executed. This time disaster will be extremely costly.