NEW DELHI: An Excerpt from ‘The Gist‘, with Sushant Sareen, Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.
Watch the full conversation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w0T-Ripaoo&t=443s
APR: In terms of Russia and China, whether it was coincident or not the then Prime Minister Imran Khan, now he’s not even caretaker, was in the Kremlin when February 24th happened. How do you see the Russia-China-Pakistan dynamic vis-a-vis India?
SS: Look, it’s a matter of some concern to us because we have two of our enemies in China and Pakistan. And I do not for a moment think that China is a friendly country. I think it’s an avowedly hostile country. But you know, unlike the Pakistanis, at least they maintain certain proprieties and niceties. Not on the LAC, but otherwise. So, it becomes a matter of concern when a country like Russia actually starts getting too close to them. For the Pakistanis, it’s for long been one of their dreams that you know, these ‘PRICS’, that is Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China (and Saudi Arabia), but the acronym is very appropriate, they get together and they form a common front. Now, as far as the Pakistanis are concerned the common front is against India. Perhaps as far as the Chinese are concerned, the common front is again India. So it becomes a matter of some concern for us. But I suspect that given the kind of a situation in which the Pakistanis find themselves, they’re suddenly understanding that, you know, whatever, you know, these fanciful dreams they might have conjured up. They do not necessarily translate into a very coherent or practical policy framework or an alliance framework. And at the end of the day, what does Russia bring to the table? Or what does Pakistan bring to Russia’s table? Now, if India buys a S-400 missile system and signs a $5 billion deal and a couple of other billion dollars here and there, not that it’s all going in one go. But India is paying the Russians. We’re not getting anything gratis. Pakistan is not used to paying for the weapon systems it gets. Pakistan takes loans thinking that these are grants. That this is income, and they feel shortchanged, they feel offended when countries like Saudi Arabia give them a loan and ask for its money back. Pakistanis say what kind of people are you that you are asking for money back? Now, can you imagine the Russians have money to lend to the Pakistanis? There was this one pipeline project, which has been hanging fire for the last almost a decade. And this is a pipeline project not coming from Russia or anything. It’s going from Karachi up north. Even that they haven’t been able to agree on. It is not a big project. It’s a pittance. Even that the Pakistanis don’t have the money to pay for. They haven’t been able to do a financial closure on that till now. The point I’m trying to make is that the Pakistanis bring nothing to the table for the Russians. And the Pakistanis are realising that those grand dreams which they had of this ‘PRICS’ coming together doesn’t really bring anything to Pakistan’s table, because the bread and butter for Pakistan comes from the west or the Middle East. Both places which Imran Khan’s brilliant foreign policy has riled up. And he’s agitating Pakistani streets against the West, both Europe as well as the U.S. He keeps saying that I’m not anti any country and I’m all for an independent foreign policy. But, his independent foreign policy is utter nonsense, because this is the same man who tried an independent foreign policy when he wanted to start this television channel with Turkey and Malaysia. And then, when the Saudis turned the screws on him, he decided not to go for that meeting. What kind of independent foreign policy was that? Or what kind of an independent foreign policy is it that he cannot even open his mouth against the genocide of Muslims by the Chinese? So I could give you chapter and verse for this mythical independent, foreign policy,
APR: Does Pakistan bring anything to the table, as far as the west and the U.S. goes, as of now?
SS: Look, I’ve never really been able to understand what the Pakistanis bring to the table as far as the Americans are concerned. There seems to be this for both the Brits as well as the Americans and to some extent, even the Europeans, there is this underdog syndrome, which comes with, when they talk about the Pakistan- poor guys, we can’t leave them in the lurch. You know, at the end of the day, they are nuclear power. It’s the only country which says I’m a democratic nuclear power. Have you ever heard that description from anybody else? It’s a strange place. People with a strange notion that they are the center of the world which clearly they are not. Nobody gives a damn about them. Even Indians have stopped giving a damn about them. ‘Hum logo ko karna padta hain’, because we make bread and butter out of all the stupidity they do. But other than that, who cares about Pakistan anymore? But the Pakistanis still think they’re the center of the universe which they are not. And there is an element in the United States, there is an element in Britain in particular. And among some Europeans also, who have the saviour complex. We also have a saviour complex about Pakistanis in India, that Pakistan is going down the tube. We must help them. As though they need our help. And why should we help an enemy country anyways? If they’re going down the tube, we should encourage them. But, you have enough examples of people who want to save Pakistan from itself. And it’s been happening for the last 70 years, and is the same thing in the U.S., in the UK, in Europe. It’s not so much what they bring to the table. But I think the fact that it’s going to be a nightmare. It’s going to be an international migraine as Madeleine Albright once called it. It is an international migraine, but it could become something even worse. So I think that is what it brings to the table. Its nuisance value is what it brings to the table.