Two devastating terrorist attacks, one in Orakzai Agency and the other in Karachi have heralded the intensification of the Hybrid War (HW) against CPEC and Pakistan’s future. These terrorist attacks have clearly underscored the growing inevitability of the CPEC- BRI Combine in geopolitical, geostrategic and geo-economic considerations.

The strategic objective of this HW is clearly to delay, disrupt, destroy and scuttle the CPEC-BRI Combine through a destabilisation and isolation of Pakistan.

Whose vital interests does the CPEC-BRI Combine then threaten?

The US and India have particular reasons of their own to see the CPEC-BRI Combine being capped, rolled back and eliminated. US views the CPEC-BRI Combine as a threat to its current primacy as the sole global economic power. Whereas the US economy is suffering the pangs of a US $ 20 trillion (still galloping) national debt the Chinese economy is on the boom for the last few decades. The BRI intends to spread a web of roads, motorways, railways, airports, seaports, power plants, special economic and industrial zones et al through Central Asia to Russia to Eastern and then Western Europe. Through Pakistan and the CPEC the BRI will connect China to South and Central Asia including Afghanistan, to the Greater Middle Eastern Region, to Africa and through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea to Southern Europe and the Americas. China has direct access to the Far East. A successful completion of the CPEC- BRI projects would thus establish China as a genuine global economic power.

This will simultaneously translate into a global strategic reach and massive, at times controlling, economic, political, diplomatic, informational and technical influence and impact. China’s sphere of influence will thus encompass the globe and will initiate a major paradigm shift in the world’s political orientation, away from the US and to China. The US thus rightly feels threatened by this Chinese economic juggernaut and its potential to dislodge it from global domination and pre-eminence. Therefore, it is now pulling out all plugs to circumscribe the CPEC-BRI Combine as severely and as quickly as possible.

India on the other hand is clearly frustrated with Pakistan’s existence and its audacity to raise and maintain world class armed forces & intelligence agencies, very potent missile and nuclear forces which stymie its strategic ambitions to become “the” hegemonic power of South Asia. Pakistan has thus become “unmanageable” for it. India now realises that it can no longer dominate Pakistan militarily without incurring unacceptable losses. With the inauguration of the PTI Government and PM Imran Khan in Pakistan the era of pathetic and compulsive appeasement towards India epitomised by Mian Nawaz Sharif is over. So, now it cannot dominate Pakistan politically or diplomatically either. This leaves the economic dimension alone where the Indians could have dominated Pakistan. And the Asif Ali Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif duo obliged by raping and ravaging the national economy to utter destruction and bringing it to the brink of a major default.

The stage was thus set for the final cruel blow to cut Pakistan down to its non-nuclear size!

The CPEC-BRI Combine, a Chinese initiative was a God-send for Pakistan. Its economic woes can be overcome, in good time, if the CPEC is successful. That, in effect, would sound a death knell for Indian ambitions for hegemonic control of the South and Central Asian Regions and its peoples. So, it is in India’s national interest then, that Pakistan remains economically weak and internally destabilised. Most importantly, a successful completion of the CPEC project will clearly take Pakistan out of the ambit of all sorts of coercion by the US and kill off all Indian ambitions to that effect, too!

The national interests of US and India have thus clearly converged on this ultimate strategic objective - the neutralisation of the CPEC-BRI Combine, Balochistan, Pakistan and in the final analysis China. The center of gravity of this strategy lies in the delay, disruption and destruction of the CPEC-BRI Combine. An internally destabilised (sectarian strife) Pakistan means a delayed and disrupted CPEC which in turn delays the BRI. Driving a wedge between China and Pakistan would isolate the latter and impede the CPEC-BRI Combine too. Pakistan was thus subjected to a two pronged terrorist assault, well-coordinated in time, space and effect. In one fell swoop, both the internal and external fronts of Pakistan were attacked, creating multiple and overwhelming challenges for it.

This twin assault on Pakistan, however, failed spectacularly in achieving its strategic objectives of initiating sectarian strife and isolating Pakistan.

The Balochistan Liberation Army and IS have claimed the attacks in Karachi and Orakzai respectively. The Indian link was established beyond an iota of doubt by the identification of Aslam alias Achchu who controlled the terrorist operation in Karachi from a hospital bed in New Delhi. The IS operates from Afghanistan and is directly linked with RAW, NDS, CIA and a number of other intelligence agencies hostile to Pakistan. The concept of the two pronged operation, the scale of the two attacks, the organisation, the intelligence, the selection of the targets and the move to those locations, the execution, the control of the operations, the logistics and facilitation, the transportation, and most importantly the coordination of the two attacks between the IS and the BLA is clearly beyond the capacity of rag tag militant groups. It requires a central unified command authority with the requisite qualified staff and a secure and dependable command, control and communication infrastructure for such a complex operation to be mounted successfully. It requires the organisation and the resources of formal intelligence agencies. This is the combined handiwork of the RAW, NDS and CIA nexus and some more - all operating from Afghanistan against CPEC-BRI Combine, Pakistan and China!

The powers trying to disrupt the CPEC-BRI and destabilise Pakistan must note that at some stage China might want to physically secure its massive investments in Pakistan and the region at large.

A joint, proactive Pakistan-China response may not be beyond the realm of possibilities in the future!!

 

The author is a retired Brigadier of the Pakistan Army.

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