Subcontinent: The changing Geo-dynamics

…weighed in PM Modi’s Lok Sabha speech

Dr. Javid Iqbal
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 20 2018 11:04PM | Updated Date: Feb 20 2018 11:04PM
Subcontinent: The changing Geo-dynamicsFile Photo

In the weeks since PM Modi’s Lok Sabha speech blaming Nehru-Gandhi led congress for whatever ails the country, much has been written to cast parts of his speech as ahistorical. Of particular interest to Kashmir analysts has been his view that with Patel in total command, entire erstwhile JK state would have fallen in Indian lap. It has been dealt with comprehensively by many analysts, casting Patel as being lukewarm to the idea of retaining Kashmir within Indian fold. Two, Modi blamed congress for partition. Much more than being a blame game, the changing geodynamics of the region is giving India cause for concern. Creation of Pakistan poses challenges in prevailing times, which India could have done without. The price being paid is a lot more than Indian leaders who agreed to partition could have imagined. This could be said, in spite of numerous difficulties facing Pakistan, especially in recent decades.

Pakistan is a much smaller country than India, shorter on resources. Its industrial base would hardly stand comparison with India. In recent decades, Pakistan had to suffer extremism and sectarian strife on a wide scale, taking heavy toll of life. It has had a tottering economy, depending on infusions from international financial institutions. The defence expenditure costs almost one fifth of budget outlay. The country has had to bear it, given the threat perception on her eastern and western borders. Unable to match India in conventional build-up, Pakistan felt it could not but have nuclear weapons. India had already turned nuclear. In order to attain balance of power, Pakistan went on an overdrive in developing a nuclear arsenal. This included tactical nuclear weapons to face a rapid deployment conventional offensive Indian stride, should India ever think of one. On the western front Pakistan faces hostile US backed Afghan regime. USA is pressing Pakistan increasingly to counter forces inimical to its interests, such as AF-Taliban and Haqani group. Given the fragile economy Pakistan could ill-afford a defence build-up as comprehensive as it is laced with. But the country feels, it cannot do without one. 

While Pakistan faced and continues to face one of the most difficult phases of nationhood since it came into existence in 1947, India was passing through a transition from socialistic era of Nehruvian dreams to market economy. The transition was planned by Narshima Rao led congress government in early 90’s. It was executed by Manmohan Singh. The growth rate increased from bare 3% of Nehruvian era, called ‘Hindu rate of growth’ by some economists. Over two decades, it has hovered around plus minus 7%, whether it was UPA or NDA regime in power. It might a gone a shade lower in recent years; however India continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This stays despite challenges in Kashmir, northeast and militant naxal elements in hinterland of central Indian states. And, it may be added, notwithstanding millions of homeless, dispossessed and unemployed in the economic graph. The growing economy is not without attendant challenges. 

Growing economies remain in search of enhanced trade and new markets. India is no exception. However, India feels constrained as she weighs her options on trade and transit. Strategically placed landmass of the subcontinent forms Pakistan. Seven decades ahead of partition India is increasingly realizing that geographically important part has been ceded in 1947 to carve Pakistan. The often advanced plea for creation of Pakistan is Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s intransigence; an attitude uncompromising in extremes, a left handed tribute to his political acumen and legal expertise. However, it would take much more than the political craft of a single person—even as eminent as Jinnah to justify Indian leadership conceding Pakistan.  There is much more to it than meets the eye. How could the country of continental dimensions--India afford to surrender the vital trade outlets of the subcontinent, leading out of NWFP and Baluchistan to Central Asia and West Asia?

The road outlet to Central Asia, further on links Russia and Eastern Europe.  Baluchistan outlet provides the geographical link to Iran, West Asia and Western Europe. India would hardly need Chahbahar—the Iranian port, it has invested in to reach Afghanistan and Central Asia, had the country not been partitioned in 1947. India would have had energy supply lines right at its doorstep, had it stayed as a single geographical entity. As it stands, in 1947, India was left with barely the maritime trade links. Subcontinental outlets in north and northeast remain choked, given the contentious border with China. With an emerging India craving to play the regional, as well as global role, Indian strategists are faced with geo-strategic constraints, prompting questions on the genesis of partition, such as Modi’s in his parliamentary speech.

The Chinese dragon making its way across Karakorum heights and leaping up to Gwadar port to open a maritime space for trade, energy and communication link-up on a wide scale has heightened stakes. The question on sovereignty of vital northern frontier—Gilgit/Baltistan was never so intense since 1947, as in last few years. With China maximizing the use of Pakistan’s geostrategic location with 62 billion dollar investment in CPEC, the geodynamics has undergone a big change. Russian strategic analysts like Andrew Korybko call Pakistan the zipper, which could mean providing the vital link. The changing geostrategic hues have brought home the fact that India could have done without partition and loss of northern frontier—Gilgit/Baltistan—CPEC transit route from Xingjiang to Gwadar. India has reasons to be concerned.

 

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

 

 

 

 

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