September 23, 2021

The Chinese Smaug And The Pakistani Dwarves

Beware the warm embrace of a Dragon long asleep and newly awakened. Those who befriend it, seeking protection, will find themselves the first targets of its growing appetite.

The China-Pakistan alliance has come under closer scrutiny in the wake of the Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan. 

Images of Chinese leaders standing alongside Taliban representatives have bolstered Pakistan's narrative that the new Taliban regime is not an international pariah like its previous incarnation. 

Pakistan has tried to turn its military victory in Afghanistan into a diplomatic victory at the United Nations, relying on China's assistance.

Chinese officials have accepted the Taliban’s UN envoy, but have still not publicly recognized their terrorist government.

The lack of international recognition of the Taliban's regime may not matter all that much if Chinese money starts pouring in. 

The Taliban's main concern is acquiring money to stabilize the country and restore some sense of normalcy, not a symbolic seat at the defunct UN. 

As of now, Afghanistan is on the path to complete economic collapse and humanitarian disaster.

The West and China may want to look away and pray for the best, but if Afghanistan falls, Pakistan, their poisonous lovechild, will be next. After five decades of Pakistani interference in Afghanistan, the fates of both nations are interlinked.

Pakistan's stability is far from certain. And the West and China can only prop up a financially bankrupt terrorist state for so long.


While Washington has begrudgingly aided Pakistan's military establishment, growing more frustrated in the past few years, Beijing has always been clear-eyed about the nature of its relationship with Islamabad. 

China views Pakistan as a useful ally only as long as it maintains its irrational enmity towards India. It wants Pakistan to keep India distracted and preoccupied with terrorism. 

In that respect, Pakistan has been a godsend for China. Its entire reason for existing is to stop India from becoming a dominant power and a geopolitical force. It would do it for free. Chinese incentives are just an added bonus.

Pakistan's hostility towards India is so extreme that it is willing to give up precious territory to China to prevent Indian military movements on its borders. If India stands to lose, Pakistan will do it, even if it means harming its own interests. 

But China is not dumb. They know that Pakistan can't win a war against India, and no one likes backing a losing horse. China has mastered the art of holding back the reins on the donkeys in Islamabad.

An excerpt from, "Nothing Comes Without Conditions: China's Relationship With Pakistan" by Myra MacDonald, War on The Rocks, February 3, 2015:
In The China-Pakistan Axis, Small recounts China’s role in helping Pakistan obtain nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable missiles by supplying technology and expertise—going as far as flying in supplies of highly enriched uranium—to help it keep pace with India’s nuclear weapons program. But China has never committed troops on Pakistan’s behalf, even during its many conflicts with India, and has often been more inclined to work with the United States to try to defuse a crisis than provide Pakistan with support.

As Small writes, “China would like to see the India-Pakistan relationship exist in a state of managed mistrust,” one which keeps India tied down in its own neighborhood rather than challenging China across their long land border or competing with it in the rest of Asia. But, particularly since India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998, China has also fretted about the possibility of an all-out war between the two. Thus when Pakistan began a border conflict with India in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir in 1999, China refused to provide military or diplomatic support. Significantly, Chinese officials were in regular contact with their U.S. counterparts during the Kargil crisis to ensure both Beijing and Washington delivered the same message to Pakistan about the need to pull back its troops. Those contacts would come as a surprise to many in Pakistan, which has tried to use its “all-weather friendship” with China to balance its often-antagonistic relationship with the United States, little realizing the two could also work together behind its back.

The China-Pakistan alliance is a geopolitical mirage. It is not based on respect, shared values, or even economics. China's investments in Pakistan have yielded very little economic prosperity. 

An excerpt from, "Pakistan learns the cost of an alliance with China" by Saim Saeed, Politico, March 3, 2021:

The projects have not boosted local employment either, with the Chinese construction companies preferring to ship their labor from China rather than hire local workers, fueling tensions further. And Haqqani points out that stronger trade and road links have helped Chinese goods be sold in Pakistan, but not the other way round.

Pakistan is little more than a traffic stop in the eyes of Beijing. 

China is not investing in Pakistan but in itself. Everything it builds in Pakistan it intends to own one day. 

So far, the power imbalance between China and Pakistan has led to the erosion of Pakistan’s financial sovereignty, loss of strategic national assets, and the reshaping of its borders in favour of Chinese imperial interests. 

While Pakistan's generals were busy seizing Afghanistan they lost their own country to China.

Last May Michael Rubin wrote in the article, "Is Pakistan nothing more than a colony of China?"

Pakistanis will soon realize—if they have not already—what a devil’s bargain their country has made. In China, Pakistan has tied itself to a country that is responsible for the incarceration in concentration camps of one million Muslims solely on the basis of their religion and it has partnered with a country that thinks nothing about killing Pakistanis and humiliating Pakistan. 

Chinese loans, not India or its own radical terrorists, will ultimately be Pakistan's undoing.