If terror had an MBA, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar would be its marquee brand and the chief sales manager would be Beijing. The dubious credit for sustaining this weapon of mass murder goes to Pakistan’s duplicitous bedmate China. The 50-year-old Azar is the ISI’s angel of death in the subcontinent. But China sees him as a wealth creator—a facilitator of its strategic and business interests in Pakistan and beyond. In the process, it ignores the policy generosity that allows the Chinese to earn dollars in India while funding its pet terror lords in Pakistan.
Its black economics, stupid. There is no other explanation for the dragon’s consistent protection of Azar. Ideological pragmatism is in Communist China’s capitalist bloodstream, where Azhar thrives as a malignant microbe; the caretaker of its investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that spans the terror-infested Af-Pak border terrain. Once completed, it will provide an alternative route for Chinese exports to the Middle East and Europe. Xinjiang is the starting point of such super-hyped Chinese BRI projects.
Through CPEC, Beijing aims to link Kashgar in Xinjiang with Gwadar port in Balochistan, giving China ready access to energy bazaars in West Asia and Africa. According to published reports, over 50,000 Chinese citizens will be staying in Gwadar port after CPEC’s completion. Only Azhar can ensure their safety, besides the smooth operation of the project. Simply put, Azhar is a blackmailer of China’s economic interests. To paraphrase Roosevelt’s quip on Somoza, China knows Azhar is a blackmailer, but he is their blackmailer. Which is why Beijing vetoed the United Nations Security Council’s fourth attempt to declare Azhar a global terrorist. His venomous talent to propagate terror and seed suicide warriors is stoked by ISI patronage.
An international terrorist tag would have adversely affected his upward trajectory, choked financial support and severely curtailed JeM’s capacity to raise arms inside or outside India. China behaved like a defiant apologist, issuing a statement asking for more time to study the documents before taking a final call. Its spokesperson said, “The discussions, I want to say, must follow the rules and procedures of the relevant bodies and only the solution that is acceptable to all sides is conducive for resolving the issue.” The only relevant bodies should be the ones bloodied and shredded by Azhar’s suicide bombers and terrorists. But China, with its history of state-sponsored pogroms—45 million people were murdered by Mao Zedong—obviously doesn’t give a damn.
Its granite view that oversaw the Cultural Revolution’s horrors, the Tianemen Square carnage and torture of dissidents promoted Beijing‘s open support of the Pulwama massacre. However, it dampened BJP’s spirits. Congress president Rahul Gandhi belligerently tweeted “Weak Modi is scared of Xi. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India. NoMo’s China Diplomacy: 1. Swing with Xi in Gujarat 2. Hug Xi in Delhi 3. Bow to Xi in China.” The BJP promptly rummaged in the Congress closet of skeletons and pulled out Nehru’s self-sacrificial naïveté allowing China a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. The party tweeted, “China wouldn’t be in UNSC had your great grandfather not ‘gifted’ it to them at India’s cost. India is undoing all mistakes of your family. Be assured that India will win the fight against terror. Leave it to PM Modi while you keep cosying up with the Chinese envoys secretly.”
Such verbal wars apart, Beijing’s persistence in saving Azhar leaves a querulous question mark on the effectiveness of Indian diplomacy on China. Post Pulwama, India admirably mobilised 13 UNSC members to sponsor the resolution against Azhar, though the outcome was predictable. The nations that moved the resolution had also been hit by Islamist savagery in the past ten years. Since the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, India has been pressing the UNSC to declare Azhar a global terrorist. He has the devil’s own luck. The Vajpayee-led BJP government was forced to release him from a Kashmir prison in December 1999 after an Indian Airlines plane was hijacked from Kathmandu.
After all, 180 lives were at stake. The uninterrupted mayhem that Azhar and his terror establishment unleashed hasn’t persuaded China to withdraw its bloodstained blessings. Its schizophrenic pragmatism is evident in its patronage of Azhar even as a Pak-nourished Islamist insurgency by Uighurs flourishes in China’s Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province. Over a million Uighurs are languishing in Chinese jails. Muslim prayers and possession of the Koran are banned. Evidently South Block has failed to read the tea leaves, underestimating the strategic and economic affinity between the Chinese government and Pakistan’s terror gangs.
Indian diplomacy and the corporate world have been infiltrated by pro-China elements, which ignore the national interest and allow Sino-centric trade to flourish here. In 2018, India-China trade was worth around $84.44 billion as against $71.18 billion the previous year. But the over $50 billion trade deficits shows no sign of shrinking.
The Indian taxation system has only allowed the indiscriminate dumping of cheap and inferior consumer goods in the country, causing myriad indigenous units to close. Indian consumers spent over `50,000 crore in 2018— twice the amount they spent in 2017—on smartphones manufactured by the top four Chinese brands. Chinese smartphone brands that account for more than 50 per cent of our market include Honor, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, Infinix, Lenovo-Motorola and One-Plus. China has exploited the price sensitive-Indian mindset by dumping cheaper household goods ranging from assembly line homes to toys.
Its a long road travelled from 2014, when economic and diplomatic achhe din were in the air. Ignoring convention, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited President Xi Jinping to Ahmedabad in September 2014. Afterwards, they met twice in 2015, thrice in 2016 , thrice again in 2017 and once in 2018, at various international forums abroad and in China. PM Modi has met Chinese leaders over 10 times. Unfortunately, his 56-inch hugs failed to melt Jinping’s hard heart, which brimmeth over with love for Azhar.
Their terror tango has caused political embarrassment to Modi, who was once described byJinping as one of his closest friends. The Chinese understand markets and money. India has both in abundance. It may be difficult to defeat China in war games. But economy games could script a different ending. Fracture Beijing’s resolve to support the terror manufacturers and salesmen using market missiles. Mandate 2019 should also be sought on the promise of purging Chinese infiltrators in the Indian dispensation and casting the shadow of risk over investing in Pakistan and doing business in India. Hindi-Chini can be bhai bhai only if China dumps its bloodsucker bhai who has quarters across the border.
Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla