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A global battle for democracy is being fought in Jammu and Kashmir

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

New Delhi Sep 08, 2019, 03.42 PM (IST) Written By: Lawerence Sellin

There is a tyrannical alliance between totalitarian Pakistan and authoritarian China, which is based on a shared rejection of democracy and who are both determined to extinguish liberty and subjugate the individual, either to sharia or the state.

India, the world’s largest democracy, is at the forefront of that battle in the strategically critical region of northern India bordering Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

Pakistan was created as an Islamic state out of the partition of the British Indian Empire in August 1947.

Islam is the societal “glue” that holds Pakistan together, an otherwise artificial state composed of ethnic groups that never interacted in any significant way.

Since the late 1970s, under President Zia ul-Haq, Pakistan has pursued a policy of aggressive “Islamization” with the proliferation of religious schools “madrasas” and religious political parties, resulting in a society that has become ever more extreme and intolerant.

Through Islamization, ethnic self-determination in Pakistan is being suppressed and Islamic fighters have been found to be useful proxies for the Pakistani military and its Inter-service Intelligence agency (ISI), particularly in the form of terrorist operations against India and Afghanistan.

The concept of Ummah or Islamic community, the basis for pan-Islamism, provides Islamabad with a convenient, if illegitimate, rationale for the selective interference in the affairs of other nations for the “protection” of fellow Muslims, an exception being China, Pakistan’s “all weather” ally and brutal oppressor of Muslim Uighurs.

China seeks global domination. One vehicle to achieve it is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a collection of infrastructure projects and a network of commercial agreements designed to link the entire world directly to the Chinese economy through inter-connected land-based and maritime routes.

The guarantor of China’s soft power approach to economic hegemony is the hard power of Chinese military expansion, which includes a plan to establish military bases in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan, Pakistan’s southwestern province.

Those bases would control the vital maritime lanes of the Arabian Sea at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and provide a critical link between China’s military facilities in the South China Sea and its naval base in Djibouti at the entrance of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

The flagship of BRI and also its weakest link is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a development project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea.

CPEC violates Indian sovereignty and territorial integrity because it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, a section of undivided Jammu and Kashmir and an integral part of India.

China’s growing and ever more risky investment in Pakistan has forced Beijing to overlook and sometimes shield Islamabad's use of terror against India, especially attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

That situation persists despite the fact that China is obligated under the charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) agreement to condemn and oppose terrorism.

Nowhere has broader Pakistani-Chinese goals for regional domination been more clearly and publicly articulated than in a June 2018 China Daily article by former Pakistani diplomat, Zamir Ahmed Awan, who works for the Beijing-controlled Center for China and Globalization.

“Peace in Afghanistan will allow economic activity between Central Asia, Russia, China and the Arabian Sea…It can change the fate of the whole region. Chinese projects like the Belt and Road Initiative and the objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO] … At the recent SCO summit, the Afghanistan president was invited as a guest and observer. Hopefully, the country will soon join SCO. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may also be extended to benefit Afghanistan in the near future if there is peace.”

With China’s growing geopolitical strength, Pakistan now has significant strategic and economic incentives to exclude India and Western countries from maintaining any influence in Afghanistan.

An extension of CPEC to Afghanistan would benefit both China and Pakistan, whose economic goals include exploiting the estimated $3 trillion in untapped Afghan mineral resources.

In addition, Chinese-Pakistani de facto control of Afghanistan would be a victory for authoritarianism and an affirmation of Pakistan’s use of terrorist proxies as a successful means to extend its influence with its aim to damage and isolate India.

The evolving situation in South Asia has now made Jammu and Kashmir, not just an international centre of attention, but a strategic centre of gravity to thwart the tyrannical ambitions of the Chinese-Pakistani alliance.

Support for the restoration of Indian sovereignty to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is not just in accordance with international law and diplomatic norms, but it is ultimately a battle for the survival of democracy.

 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

Lawerence Sellin

Lawerence Sellin is Retired US Army Colonel

Story highlights

India, the world’s largest democracy, is at the forefront of that battle in the strategically critical region of northern India bordering Pakistan, China and Afghanistan