Reconciling the trade-off between Strategic and Economic Interests

The emergence of China and the reemergence of Russia as formidable forces at the global level and the expected shift of economic power to Asia has changed the world in many ways. There has been a tremendous increase in conflict in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Old wounds have reopened, conflict has become endemic, and there is a run on the natural resources of poor countries, who do not have the brute force to stand the might of the rich countries. The invasion of Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, under the smoke screen of the war against terror has resulted in massive loot and plunder of uranium and lithium from that country, resulting in very rapid development of mobile phone, computer and electronic car industries in western countries. While Afghan children are running from one garbage dump to another to earn a living. Similarly, the invasion of Iraq and Libya has led to massive transfer of oil from these countries to the US, making it a major player in the world oil market.

The “greedy outsiders” are eyeing the natural resources of other Third World countries also that are richly endowed, but lack the brute force to defend their resources and populations. When Europe colonized the world in the past, the US lent its strong voice against imperialism and became a leading proponent of the right of self-determination. Today, it is playing the lead role, backed by former European colonial powers, and new colonial powers like India in trying to take the world to the pre 1945 world order. A world order based on the loot and plunder of the natural resources of colonies to bring prosperity to rich countries. The pre 1945 world order is being reinforced by the political and strategic policies being pursued by western governments and their strategic alliances, and economic policies being pushed by the international financial institutions.

The US is trying to promote its strategic goals very forcefully through its economic policies. It is using its economic clout to promote its strategic goals and using its strategic position to further its economic agendas. It is trying to preempt its adversaries from pursuing their strategic goals by imposing sanctions or the threat of sanctions. This is similar to the contestable market theory, where the threat of entry forces a monopolist to behave in a competitive manner. For example, the imposition of sanctions on the Russian Federation has created economic difficulties, which may hinder the pursuit of strategic goals and objectives.  But in-spite of its economic difficulties, the Russians are playing a lead role in many conflict ridden regions, particularly Syria. But its tall stature is being undermined by its economic sanctions.  India is promoting its strategic goals at the cost of its economic goals. Narendar Modi’s election mandate was to provide employment to the vast pool of unemployed Indian youth, but in 2013-14 very soon after getting elected he switched gears, and spent almost 17 percent of total expenditure on defense. As a result, India exported jobs to countries which supplied military hardware to India. And Modi diverted the attention of India’s unemployed youth by pitting them against Indian minorities and inculcating war mongering. This total obsession with strategic goals is unleashing state terrorism on the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This diversion of resources from productive capacity to defense expenditure resulted in the highest unemployment rate during the last five years compared with the last 45 years. According to the WPI data the crash in Indian agricultural prices has been the worst in 18 years, while Market data reveals that Indian Rupee is Asia’s worst performing currency. As a result, India is the second most unequal country in the world according to the Global Wealth Report. Nobel laureate Banerjee has drawn attention to very alarming reduction in consumption in India, which is on account of massive increase in defense expenditures, decline in agricultural incomes and increase in income inequality. India has also become the world’s third worst country in terms of environment protection.

Pathetic economic situation has affected the social environment very adversely in India. Religious intolerance and extremism is the highest in 70 years, with mobs lynching Muslims and other minorities and cow related deaths have increased tremendously since Modi came to power. India has always been the worst country in the world on account of crimes against women. And all these indicators are worsening with time, with no pressure from the “civilized world” to declare India a sponsor of terrorism against the people of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Indian Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Sikhs, etc.

The US is using the threat of placing Pakistan on FATF’s black list and the following sanctions to prevent it from pursuing its strategic objectives.  And by stopping the Government of Pakistan (GOP) from pursuing its strategic objectives, the US is promoting its own political and strategic agendas in the region. By stopping GOP from coming to the rescue of Kashmiris, the US wants to alienate them from Pakistan, so that they give up their demand to join Pakistan and opt for independence. And this will give a free hand to the US to establish its bases to conduct surveillance on Russia and China. Pakistan has been claiming to be a sovereign country for more than 72 years now, but its total subservience to US dictates shows that it is still in the colonial mode. It shirks from pursuing its vital strategic interests for petty personal gains. Pakistan’s colonial mode can also be gauged from its export of natural resources in raw form. We have been exporting gold, silver, precious stones, rock salt, apricot kernels, clay, etc. in raw form for peanuts, while our friends and foes are adding value to them and creating tremendous wealth for their countries.  

There are reports that the discovery of oil in Pakistan’s coastal areas was stopped for the next seven years on Saudi request, in return for deferred payment for oil for the next three years. The discovery of oil in such large quantities stated to be more than the combined oil reserves of all the oil producing countries, would have made it unnecessary for Pakistan to go to the IMF. But that is not what has been ordained for us. We are taken to the IMF not for the credits that IMF makes available to us, but for the albatross that is hung around our necks in the form of conditionalties. The IMF conditionalties reduce our growth rates, render millions unemployed, increase the skewness in the distribution of income, inflation and poverty with the accompanying social and political strife and turmoil. Imagine the kind of prosperity that would have come to Pakistan with the discovery of oil in such large quantities. And after seven years when we are allowed to extract oil, what are we going to do with it, as the electronic automobile industry will make oil redundant in the near future!  

Pakistan cannot proclaim to be a sovereign country when it keeps sacrificing its strategic interests to those of other countries. And in the present harsh international environment, unable to respond to the challenges we are facing poses an existential threat to the country. Present policy of the Government of Pakistan of supporting the struggle of Kashmiris through words and protecting Indian interests through actions is deceitful and hypocritical. The Prime Minister’s speech in the UN can make him a hero, but it has not done anything to lessen the sufferings of the Kashmiri people. Words should be followed by concrete actions. In the past the GOP announced that it has taken measures to stop air route facilities to India, but the very next morning the newspapers stated that the government is considering stopping this facility to the Indians. Through blowing of sirens and wearing black bands the Government wants to convince the Kashmiris and the Pakistanis that it is on their side, but by not taking any concrete actions against India, the Government is trying to appease the US and India.

Bearing in mind the economic crisis India faces, a very effective way to hurt Indian interests would be through taking measures to worsen the Indian economic crisis – to hit where it hurts most. For this we have to stop the import of Indian products. Not just the government, but the people have to boycott Indian products. GOP has announced several times that it has closed Indian channels, but they continue to operate. All Indian channels have to be closed and the cable operators monitored with huge fines imposed on defaulters. The closure of air and land routes to India have to be really closed instead of being announced closed. When Indian goods have to travel longer distances its exports will become more expensive, and therefore uncompetitive. Similarly, by making Indian imports more expensive, the cost of production of Indian industry will go up, rendering it non-competitive. Pakistan has to stop the supply of rock salt and natural resources, providing India the opportunity to earn tremendous amounts of foreign exchange, which is used to import defense equipment including pellet guns which are blinding the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Recently India announced stopping the import of palm oil from Malaysia on account of Prime Minister  Mahathir Mohamad’s condemnation of Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad responded by  breaking trade ties to the tune of almost $11 bn with India, reprimanding it that trade talks will take place only after India has settled the Kashmir dispute This shows the strength of character of Prime Minister Mahathir, who is prepared to sacrifice his economic interests for the sake of his principles. What a contrast with Pakistani politicians who have not taken a single concrete step for the Kashmiri people. Currently the Muslim world has three great leaders, Ayatollah Khomenai, Prime Minister Mahathir and President Erdogan who are a source of great inspiration to the Muslim world.

To the Kashmiris my advice is to stop looking towards anyone to come to their rescue and to take control of their destiny. We need to do some introspection of the Kashmiri struggle and ponder upon why only Kashmiri and Palestinian young kids are being kidnapped and killed? Why Kashmiri women are getting raped? Why Kashmiris are being blinded with pellet guns? Why Kashmiris and Palestinians are being forced out of their homes and aliens housed there?  I have not heard the separatists in Ache and South Sudan meeting with the same fate. Neither have I heard of any crimes against the separatists in Catalan. Is this treatment reserved for Muslims waging wars against occupiers? Is it only Muslim separatists that have to put up with these humiliations? Or is it because they are not well protected? The Kashmiris, Palestinians and other Muslim separatists have to protect themselves better before they go to confront such ferocious armies. They should not go to demonstrations with just stones, many household items like sticks, knives and insect sprays for those armed with pellet guns will give better protection to those waging these struggles.

The international community has failed to deliver on its social responsibilities. This is because the “civilized” nations have discovered very “uncivilized” ways to stabilize their economies and bring prosperity! Many of these countries are suppliers of arms to India, so their self-interest might be to  prolong the conflict in Kashmir. The spread of diseases and the injuries will boost their pharmaceutical industry. If the lock down results in food insecurity and famine, then these “civilized” countries will make food available which their own populations are refusing to eat, resulting in the ban on GM foods in these countries. When the virus in the GM food spreads diseases then the pharmaceutical industry will get second round growth effects more powerful than the first round discussed earlier.  

And my advice to countries under sanctions and those under the threat of sanctions is that they need not compromise their strategic objectives for petty economic gains.  In a scenario when the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran (and many other countries) are under sanctions and China, Pakistan, Turkey are under the threat of sanctions, then a very large percentage of world GDP will be under sanctions should the US carry out its threats. As a result a very large part of the world GDP will be under sanctions.  It will not just be China, Russia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, but all those countries which are integrated to these economies will be outside the global economy. Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri-Lanka, etc. are also facing security concerns, bearing in mind the global security environment where one country after another is targeted under some false pretext. The group (under sanctions) will be self-sufficient in food, fuel and sophisticated military hardware. It will have the potential to make healthy non GM food available to the group population, supply fuel to keep the industry wheel running. But above all, it can provide the nuclear umbrella to those in the group, which in these turbulent times can remove the existential threat facing these countries. The time to give a final blow to the crumbling imperial order has now  arrived! 

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