US President Donald Trump is known for not mincing words when it comes to speaking his mind. In the past few weeks, he categorically warned Pakistan to desist from helping and nurturing terror groups on its soil and subsequently stopped financial and military aid to the country. This speaks of his unequivocal stand on the issues of state-sponsored militancy and the role that Pakistan plays in its growth and spread, globally. Though the stopping of US aid may not impact Pakistan drastically because of the small size of such aids compared to the size of the overall economy, such a hostile move by the US definitely leaves Pakistan with fewer friends in the international arena. Indications emanating from Washington suggest that Trump's resolve to fix Pakistan for all its misdeeds, conceit and breach of trust is likely to intensify, forcing Pakistan to realise its folly and fall in line with international opinion on the growing menace of militancy and terrorism worldwide. The next move that the US intends to take against Pakistan is calling in International Monetary Fund (IMF) debts to the country. IMF had bailed out Pakistan with an $11.3 billion loan package in 2008 and a $6.7 billion bailout package in 2013.
While the latest move by the US to stop financial and military aids to Pakistan may not dent its confidence much, the calling in of IMF debts would certainly deal a body blow to its credibility with international financial institutions, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB). To all these financial institutions, the US has been the largest creditor and therefore, it has the final say in their functioning. If the US does take this measure, Pakistan's economy, which is said to be stable and satisfactory as of now, will feel the heat like never before. Pakistan's all-weather friend and world's number two economy China has come forward in support of Pakistan and spoken against the US measures. China argues that Pakistan has been at the forefront of fighting international terrorism as it supported the US war against terrorists in Afghanistan. It also believes that Pakistan has made immense sacrifices by becoming a US partner in the latter's fight against terrorism. As the US may raise Pakistan's role in promoting terrorism at the UN Security Council in its bid to nail the country for squandering billions of dollars of US aids meant for developing institutional infrastructure and undertaking development works that would dissuade the growing youth population from taking to guns and becoming terrorists, China may again come to the rescue of Pakistan. But, will China be able to shield Pakistan completely from the wrath of the US? And, why will China do so? What perks does China get for supporting Pakistan?
Ever since the creation of Pakistan and the birth of an independent India, both Pakistan and China have been trying to contain India's influence to grow internationally. Instead of getting into an ugly spar with India that would adversely impact its image globally, China's tactics has been to use Pakistan to trouble India. And, Pakistan has been doing it to finesse, what with unprovoked firing along the LOC resulting in avoidable casualty of security forces, fomenting militancy and terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere in India, and letting international terrorists use the country as a safe haven for setting up their base and carrying out terror strikes in India. India's democratic moorings and its belief in non-violence determined its response to the irrational and irresponsible behavior of Pakistan for all these decades since the Independence. Apparently, Indian democracy and its success have caused a great deal of heartburn both in Pakistan and China. So, this is the anatomy and exigencies of China's 'all-weather friendship' with Pakistan, which is now in direct confrontation with critical interests of the world's only superpower, the US.
As the US has turned the heat on Pakistan for the lies that it has been trading for the billions of dollars that it received from the US over the decades, there is a reason for India to feel vindicated and rejoice. Because of Pakistan's anti-India policy, India has not been able to play a pro-active role in the reconstruction and development works taking place in Afghanistan despite India being the biggest and most influential nation in the South Asian region. As of now, the US stands heavily invested in Afghanistan with its war and reconstruction efforts and it needs some well-meaning partners to bring its involvement in the country to a logical end. The warm and cordial US-India relations make India a natural partner of the US in this exercise. Pakistan is the only roadblock. And, Trump appears all set to set it right.