It seems to have been more or less accepted by now that the man who calls himself Raymond Davis was stoking unrest in Pakistan. What is more, he certainly isn’t the only one! Two of his henchmen responsible for a hit-and-run death of another youngster have returned to the US. According to the local media, more than thirty Americans have also followed, due to investigations of all US citizens residing in Pakistan started by the ISI, following the Davis fiasco!
If all this is true, stoking unrest in Pakistan had to be part of US policy! Or a policy being followed by the CIA without presidential approval; a distinct possibility from my perspective, since I have always maintained that the only real ‘rogue’ intelligence agency in the world has been, and is, the CIA. To quote Harry Truman, “I would never have agreed to the formulation of the CIA in ’47, if I had known it would become the American Gestapo”!
Whichever be the case, if this is a policy, it has to have a reason. Why should it be in the interest of the US to stoke unrest in Pakistan? Our ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ in Pakistan, immediately start worrying about ‘Pakistan’s nuclear assets’. There is little doubt that a nuclear Pakistan causes considerable concern in Israel and, there is also little doubt that in many instances, US foreign policy relegates itself to Israel’s concerns, even at the cost of its own interests. However, in this instance, while Pakistan’s nuclear assets might be priority to the Indo-Israel nexus, I do not think this governs the US (CIA) policy in Pakistan. A simpler explanation might be more appealing.
To provide a possible answer to this question, it is necessary to go back to the concept of ‘The Great Game’, a concept that is a couple of centuries old, but the game began as Empires expanded, throughout history.
The expansion of empires, throughout the annals of history, has been dictated by the location of riches. Inhospitable territories, which are invariably inhabited by seasoned warriors who are fiercely independent and proud, became battle grounds only if they lay between the empire and the land harboring riches. The Great Game has always been governed by dictates of Geography!
While the Great Game remains the same; its actors change, and today’s riches might be different; energy and mineral resources top the list in that order.
Enough has been written by many an American journalist on the flimsy excuses offered by the US for invading Iraq and Afghanistan and many of them have pointed to the resources of Iraq, Afghanistan, and those that lay beyond Afghanistan, as the real reasons for these wars. If this explanation is accepted as true (and I subscribe to it), we can begin to look for the real reason for the many Raymond Davis’ in Pakistan.
While Pakistan has some mineral resources in Balochistan, but these are far from significant. However, Pakistan does provide a passage to resources in Central Asia, and to Afghanistan where, the US geological Survey in 2007 proved long-held suspicions that the erstwhile USSR had discovered enormous mineral resources. Central Asia has, not only mineral resources, but could collectively hold the largest untapped energy resources available to the world today. Thus the frequently referred to, ‘Strategic location’ of Pakistan!
Now for a look at the map: apart from Turkmenistan, which can access the Indian Ocean just as easily through Iran, for all other Central Asian States, CAS, the most geographically logical route to warm waters is via Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obviously, this also applies to Afghanistan. If Afghanistan remains unstable for the foreseeable future, as seems most likely, the next most geographically logical route to the world for all CAS is via Iran. However, not only is this is totally unacceptable to the US, UN sanctions on Iran, have effectively blocked this exit; therefore, while goods continue to smuggle through Iran, there is no official commerce.
If both Afghanistan and Iran are denied to them, the next most logical route out for the CAS is through China to Pakistan. Almaty, ex-Capitol of Kazakhstan, already has a rail link to Urumqi, Capitol of the Chinese province of Xinkiang, adjoining Pakistan. What is most important to note that, even though the US would like to deny this route also to the CAS; it is in no position to do so!
In October 2004, I wrote an article explaining why it would be in the mutual interest of China and Pakistan for China to construct a railway line running parallel to the Karakoram Highway, KKH, those interested, can find it here. A follow up of this in 2010 can be found here.
Apparently, the first article I wrote caught the attention of our foreign office as well as some Chinese. I was contacted by both, asking me to elaborate on my article. Though I had nothing further to do with the project, I kept abreast of the news and in 2005 a MOU for the project was signed by the two countries; since then a feasibility study highlighting the technical difficulties has been carried out and, though expensive, a solution to these has been found. The project was scheduled to start in 2012, unless it hits snags.
China is the emerging super power of the future; the largest growing economy of the world, the largest direct investor in the US and is responsible for propping up the tottering US economy by holding its foreign exchange of over 2 trillion dollars, out of which 1.6 trillion is in securities, in US dollars. Were it to put its dollars in the market, the US economy would collapse overnight.
Were China to provide the commercial route for the CAS its economic and strategic growth could only accelerate. What is more, if China decides to have a naval presence at Pakistan’s strategic port of Gwadar, it would, not only encircle India, but would reverse positions with the US militarily. So far, US naval presence in the Far East, Philippines, and Japan are a constant threat to Chinese commerce via the Straits of Malacca. With a naval presence at Gwadar, China would be in a position to pose a similar threat to all commerce flowing through the Arabian/Persian Gulf!
Now that we have all the background information, let us try to examine the US’ dilemma with regard to Pakistan. If Afghanistan was a stable, peaceful country, favorably inclined to the US, the US could reap the benefits of the flow of commerce and energy of the CAS via Afghanistan-Pakistan to the outside world; providing a much needed boost to the US economy. In which event, the US would do everything within its power to ensure stability in Pakistan.
But Afghanistan is unlikely to see stability for many years to come and militarily, the US is staring a ‘denial of victory’ in the face, to put it very mildly. Moreover, even were Afghanistan to stabilize, not even the greatest of American optimists could think that the Afghan will be sympathetic to US strategic interests!
On the other hand, having fought in Afghanistan for over a decade, having spent trillions of dollars, multiplying its internal and external debt by a factor of two, if it finds that all the benefits accruing from the CAS will enrich China, the one country that could challenge US hegemony in the world, a few decades from now, would the US not do everything in its power to prevent that from happening? Already, as the US bleeds in Afghanistan, China has won the copper mining rights in Afghanistan; copper extraction is scheduled to start this year and peak in 2013, when Afghanistan might join the list of the fifteen largest copper exporting countries of the world!
However, like I pointed out, the US has no leverage over China and is in no position to prevent the CAS from taking advantage of the secure Strategic Commercial Corridor provided to them by China through Pakistan to warm waters, and the World! So how can the US prevent that from happening?
Yes, I can bet the bulb has lit by now, if it hadn’t already! The only way this can be prevented is if the vital link to that strategic commercial corridor, the country with the strategic location, linking the Commercial Corridor to the world and access to warm waters: Pakistan; is destabilized! Thus the proliferation of numerous Raymond Davis’ in Pakistan with their bags full of dirty tricks, in a desperate attempt to assist(?!!!!) this most strategic of US’ ‘strategic allies’ in the war on terror!
This also explains the US desperation in trying to get good old Davis back, before he spills those beans that could, as I wrote in an earlier article, ‘make the Wikileaks exposure pale into insignificance by comparison’! All our thanks to the World’s sole super power, the greatest democracy in the world, and the sole guardian of the world’s morals! The world really has a lot to learn!
Were I an American, I would re-read the ‘Declaration of Independence’ and weep for the dream that has been lost to the world, including citizens of less fortunate countries, like I.
Having dealt with the subject in hand, my narrative would be incomplete if I fail to draw the reader’s attention to another geographic compulsion; even though it has no direct bearing on what we have discussed, and concerns the US indirectly.
India; which is our powerful and hostile neighbor; a country that the US is strengthening so as to create a regional balance of power against China, a country that in its own rights seeks recognition as a global actor also has been registering a steady growth in its economy over the last few years @ 8% pa.
While its economy is continuing to grow, for the time being, any half-baked economist will tell you that no country has an economic future without sufficient cheap energy. Amongst the growth indices for developing countries of the world is the ‘per capita consumption of energy’. At present, according to Wikipedia, India’s per capita consumption for 2008 is recorded as 50.5 watts per head. Pakistan’s, for the same year is 48.5; by way of comparison, the world average is 297 watts per head, the US’ is 1460 watts per head, and Romania’s consumption is 307 per head!
The point I am making is that India is energy starved, and without sufficient cheap energy, despite its ambitions and US assistance, it is going nowhere economically! This is one reason why the nuclear deal with US was of such great significance for India. But nuclear energy is capital intensive. India was hoping to obtain the bulk of the oil in Burma (Myanmar) but China managed to get it first, though even that would have been a drop in the ocean for India’s growing needs.
So, what is the point of this rambling?
Again, a look at the map will explain that for India to access cheap energy overland, which remains the cheapest means of transporting energy, whether from CAS, Middle East or Iran, overland pipelines to India have to run through Pakistan! Another compulsion of geography!
In the early years of this millennium, I toured India a few times and was afforded the opportunity of addressing audiences, including university students. I was confounded by the reaction when I pointed out this geographic reality. Students were surprised by it but immediately recognized it as true. Their professors, intellectuals, and even journalists, refused to accept this fact and insisted that India could afford to run pipelines on the seabed; an exorbitantly expensive and extremely unreliable alternative.
The only reason I point this out is that when I taught ‘Conflict Resolution’, I invariably explained that there must be positive or negative incentive(s) for resolving conflicts i.e. each nation-state will resolve conflicts only if it stands to gain from the resolution of conflict or will stand to lose something if it fails to resolve a conflict. Here, we have a classic example of two countries that stand to gain from resolving their conflicts but refuse to recognize that obvious fact and continue to stoke unrest in each other’s territory, wherever they can.