Is trade with India another Trap?


Asif Haroon Raja

Notwithstanding Gen Muharraf’s weaknesses and several blunders he committed during his nine years rule, one has to admit that his governance and management of state affairs were relatively much better than what we have seen in the last four and a half years. Law and order as well as overall security were not as bad during his time. Between 2004 and 2007, only10 drone

India-Pakistan Trade & Kashmir

strikes took place. By 2004/05, the GDP had shot up to 7% and this figure was maintained till 2007. Foreign investments poured in and foreign exchange reserves crossed $15 billion mark. Several mega projects as well as development works in all the provinces particularly in neglected Balochistan area undertaken. Rupee was stable and exports had shown visible improvement. There was no shortage of daily commodities and inflation as well as price spiral was within limits. Load shedding and gas shedding was minimal. NAB recovered billions of rupees from corrupt politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats and military. Booming estate property and stock exchange made middle class prosperous. All economic indicators were in positive and public sector corporations were in profit. Corruption was within limits. But for his fatal mistake of locking horns with chief justice Iftikhar Choudhri at the advice of his sycophants and then imposing emergency in November 2007, which isolated him and led to his downfall, he may not have felt the need to strike a power sharing secret deal with Benazir Bhutto in exile and issue infamous NRO, which paved the way for the installation of most corrupt and inept government comprising three secular liberal parties and election of most controversial president. Planted by the sole super power, the coalition government pounced upon the hapless nation of 180 million like voracious vultures. Investments ceased and capital flight accelerated. All public sector corporations that were generating profits were milked dry and made debt ridden. Fetters of IMF that were broken in 2007 were worn again and country’s external debts shot up to staggering $69 billion. The debt taken in four years surpassed the total debt obtained between 1947 and 2007. Day to day expenditure is being met by printing currency notes in billions daily. Owing to unprecedented energy crisis due to mismanagement, nepotism, inefficiency and corruption, industries are shutting down and industrialists are shifting to economically secure and politically stable countries. Load shedding has made the lives of people miserable and they have now become violent. Karachi, which is Pakistan’s economic hub, is slowly dying an economic death due to anarchic conditions as a result of infighting between the ruling coalition partners with tainted past. Thousands of innocent citizens of Karachi have died at the hands of target killers sponsored and protected by political parties. Sindh administration and police are busy making money and are least bothered about the bedlam since they are part of the problem. Situation in Balochistan is getting bad to worse but the sluggish provincial government is not concerned.

The sole interest of the ruling clique is to keep Washington and New Delhi appeased and in good humor so that it could stay in power and fleece hapless Pakistanis. It allowed CIA to operate drone from Shamsi airbase freely as a weapon of war against suspected terrorists in FATA and as a result between2008 and 2011, 269 drone strikes took place. Reportedly, 2 May helicopters raid was undertaken with the blessing of top civil leadership and Hussein Haqqani. Military posts at Salala were struck to discredit Army. Underlying common motive of Washingtonian our rulers has been to undermine and discredit Pak Army and ISI and bring the two institutions under effective civilian control. The US wants Pakistan to reopen NATO supplies routes without rendering an apology and stopping drone strikes. Supreme Court bench hearing memo gate scandal has declared that Haqqani was the architect of memo. It is now to be ascertained who authorized the traitor to make Pakistan a vassal of USA. MFN status has been awarded to archrival India and made part of Pak-Afghan transit trade at a time when Pakistan’s economy is in dire straits and it is at the brink of becoming a failing state. The west has already started calling Pakistan a black hole and a failing state. On the other hand, India’s economy is robust and security situation stable. India is backed by USA, Western world, Israel and Russia and it enjoys cordial relations with China and Muslim world less Pakistan. It is spending huge amounts for its force modernization and claims to be a big power and a counterweight to China. It has imposed water war on Pakistan by building 40 dams over Rivers Jhelum and Chenab. Its motive is to control water supply of Pakistan and at an opportune time convert Pakistan’s agricultural lands into wasteland. Water strategy was applied in concert with covert war and cultural onslaught to humble Pakistan. These multiple thrusts have been unleashed since India knows that it is no more possible to defeat nuclear Pakistan on the battlefield. It has given preference to indirect strategy over direct strategy till such time Pakistan’s nukes are disabled. Pakistan caught up in the whirlpool of host of intricate problems at home and on its borders, and with the three pro-India political parties at the helm of affairs, India sees it as a chance of 21stcentury to break the resilience of Pakistan from within through indirect clandestine methods and fulfill its age-old dream of making Pakistan its vassal. Seeing the military and nuclear build up of Indian armed forces at a feverish pace, its threatening posture particularly because of its ominous strategic alignment with USA and Israel, its refusal to solve any of the longstanding disputes, its ongoing water and covert war together with propaganda campaign against Pakistan, it is simply mind boggling to hear our rulers harping that India doesn’t nurture ill-designs against Pakistan. One cannot recall India ever helping Pakistan in testing times. In fact, it never misses an opportunity to degrade and harm Pakistan when in duress. So how come and on what basis our leadership has assumed that Pakistan faces no threat from India?

The government and RAW created Aman ki Asha forum as well as business cadres and segment of our media on the US payroll are in ecstasy over the prospects of trade between the two countries. They passionately argue that it will not only help in removing suspicions and distrust and in bringing the two neighbors closer, but will also make Pakistan as prosperous as India and eventually would help in resolving outstanding disputes. In their excitement they have forgotten that India in concert with its strategic partners has encircled Pakistan from the east and west and is now in a position to start tightening the rope around Pakistan’s neck and choking it to death. None of the visitors from India or from our side attending the business conference said that without resolution of Kashmir dispute, Indo-Pak relations cannot be normalized. There was no talk on water, Siachen and Sir Creek disputes. The thrust point was, forget about Kashmir and ‘move on’. Has anyone thought as to why should Indian business community risk trading with Pakistan where industries are closing down due to perpetual energy crisis, security situation is highly explosive and political situation unstable? India doesn’t want to help Pakistan to become economically viable but it has been its fervent desire to make Pakistan economically unviable. Covert war combined with water war and propaganda war, and now supplemented with trade war is designed to force Pakistan to forget about Kashmir and other disputes. Taking into account the hostile track record of India, Pakistan will have to open up its border with India for trade with due prudence, lest it falls into yet another trap.

The writer is a retired Brig and a freelance

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