Pakistan: In A Precarious Position

Pakistan: In A Precarious Position

The international community must keep a close eye on Pakistan which is struggling on multiple fronts

tippinsights Editorial Board

Looking at Asia, China looms large, and Taliban-led Afghanistan garners global attention. But, a country that abuts the two, Pakistan - east of Afghanistan and southwest of China (along the occupied Kashmir territory)- cannot be overlooked.

Pakistan's Navy took possession of the "most advanced" Chinese warship ever exported, a Type 054A frigate. "Equipped with state-of-the-art combat management and an electronic warfare system along with modern self-defense capabilities," it is to be deployed in the Indian Ocean. One of four hulls being built, the warship is expected to "strengthen Pakistan Navy's capabilities to respond to maritime challenges to ensure seaward defense, maintain peace, stability, and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region."

Like many others, Islamabad has also turned to China for help to modernize the country. Military cooperation between the two countries has been growing over the past few years. China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, a collection of infrastructure projects throughout the country, launched under China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), was meant to "strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones." Incidentally, the Corridor linked Gwadar port in southern Pakistan to western China. Chinese firms are said to have bought a 40% stake in the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) company.

Beijing and its businesses seem undeterred by the growing anti-China sentiment in the country. But, Pakistan has a long history of providing a safe haven for radical groups, primarily Islamists. Many are promoted to target its neighbor, India. Other terror organizations like Al-Queda and the Afghan Taliban operate out of here. Pakistan has been accused of "state-sponsored terrorism," Its intelligence service ISI is known to aid the Taliban and terror groups active in Indian administered Kashmir.

The unholy nexus between the military, intelligence, and terror outfits gains further significance when considering Pakistan's chequered democratic history. Since its independence in 1947, the country has seen four successful coups and three unsuccessful attempts. On average, every 20 years, there is a successful coup, with the most recent one in October 1999 when Gen. Pervez Musharraf overthrew Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Typically, the military or the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) ousts the elected prime minister. To stay in office for a full term, the democratically elected leader must have a good relationship with and the blessing of the military and ISI. The current Prime Minister, Imran Khan, does not enjoy either.

His actions are seen as challenging and insulting to the powerful military generals. The stand-off over the appointment of the next Inter-Services Intelligence Chief, the latest skirmish between the executive and the military, makes many jittery. Much of the procedure behind appointing the head of the intelligence service seems murky. Yet, it is clear that the issue has become a power struggle between the PM's office and the military brass. While this instance in itself may not amount to grounds for a coup, those familiar with Pakistan's shaky democratic governments and a power-hungry military are wary.

Interestingly, many political pundits believe that the military or ISI will not attempt to grab power. It's not newfound respect for the democratic process stopping them, but an economy in shambles that no one seems to know how to fix is an effective deterrent.

Steeply rising commodity, fuel, and food prices are putting immense pressure on the country's economy. With inflation at 9% and falling per capita income, Pakistan is headed into a severe economic crisis. According to The News International, the Imran Khan-led government ideally requires "gross external financing of $51.6 billion within a two-year period (2021-2023) in order to fulfill its needs." Disturbing reports that China has refused to restructure its 3 billion dollar debt has made the rounds. The situation is likely to worsen with the influx of Afghans fleeing the Taliban. Pakistan already hosts 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees.

Pakistan is a nuclear power. Islamabad has cozied up to China and the Saudi regime to prop the country up. The Islamist nation does share its ideology and resources with several militant Islamic groups. The country's military and intelligence agencies continue to hold sway over much of the executive's actions. Given the scenario, it would be wise to pay attention to the goings-on in Islamabad.


TIPP Takes

China Exports Warship To Pakistan., To Be Deployed In Indian Ocean

It will 'strengthen Pakistan Navy's capabilities to respond to maritime challenges'

Naval matters: Four Type 054A frigates are being constructed for the Pakistan Navy.
Naval matters: Four Type 054A frigates are being constructed for the Pakistan Navy.

China on Monday delivered to Pakistan's Navy what its official media described as the "most advanced" Chinese warship ever exported, which is to be deployed by Pakistan in the Indian Ocean.

The delivery of the Type 054A frigate is the latest example of increasingly close military cooperation. Many Chinese and Pakistani analysts think it bolsters Pakistani capabilities to balance India in the region.

It has been named PNS Tughril by the Pakistani Navy, and it is the first hull of four Type 054 frigates under construction for the Pakistan Navy.


China's Military Conducts Combat Readiness Patrol In Direction Of Taiwan Strait

China conducted a combat readiness patrol in the direction of the Taiwan Strait after its defense ministry condemned a visit to Taiwan by a US Congressional delegation.

China

On Tuesday, several Taiwan media outlets reported that unspecified members from both the US House of Representatives and Senate had arrived in Taipei on a US military plane.

Taiwan's presidential office declined to comment.  The American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy, did not comment.  China's defense ministry said in a statement that members of the US Congress had arrived in Taiwan by military plane.


UAE Top Diplomat On First Syria Visit In Over A Decade

The visit signals improving ties between Syrian President Bashar Assad and the US-allied Arab state. Washington said it was "concerned" by the meeting "and the signal it sends."

During the meeting, Assad and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed discussed ways of developing cooperation and investment opportunities, according to Assad's office.

Zayed stressed the "UAE's support for all efforts made to end the Syrian crisis, consolidate stability in the country, and meet the aspirations of the brotherly Syrian people," UAE's state news agency WAM said.

Despite US allies in the region signaling potential for restoring relations with Syria, Washington has repeatedly said it does not support efforts to normalize ties with Assad or rehabilitate him until there is progress toward a political solution to the conflict.


Crisis Worsens On Poland-Belarus Border

Poland has warned of a possible "armed" escalation on its border with Belarus, fearing that Minsk may try to provoke a confrontation as hundreds of migrants seeking to cross into the E.U.

Thousands of migrants sought to storm the border from Belarus into Poland on Monday, cutting razor wire fences and using branches to try and climb over them. The siege escalated a crisis along the E.U.'s eastern border that has been simmering for months.

Poland's government spokesperson said 3,000 to 4,000 migrants were next to the Polish border on the Belarusian side.

Polish border officials said the border crossing in Kuznica, in the northeast, will be closed early Tuesday.

Poland, the E.U., and NATO accuse Belarus of orchestrating the crisis as revenge for Western sanctions on the authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price stressed that the U.S. "strongly condemns the Lukashenko regime's political exploitation and coercion of vulnerable people and the regime's callous and inhumane facilitation of irregular migration flows across its borders."


Belarus Migrants: Poland PM Blames Russia's Putin For Migrant Crisis

Poland's Prime Minister has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind a migrant crisis at Belarus's border with Poland.

Speaking on Tuesday at an emergency parliamentary session after visiting troops on the border, Mr. Morawiecki said: "This attack Lukashenko is conducting has its mastermind in Moscow. The mastermind is President Putin."

He accused the Russian and Belarusian leaders of destabilizing the European Union - which the two countries are not part of - by allowing migrants to travel through Belarus and enter the bloc.

Mr. Morawiecki described the situation as "a new type of war in which people are used as human shields," and said Poland was dealing with a "stage play" designed to create chaos in the EU.

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