China, which has been hedging on sanctioning Pakistan for its terror links, should pay close attention to the US concerns on terrorism—it is in its self-interest.
The US, which once called Pakistan a non-NATO ally, has suffered enormously from Pakistan’s duplicity on terror groups. In fact, it continues to be held hostage by Pakistan in the ensuing talks with the Taliban. The US knows what Pakistan is. China, which has formed a new friendship with Pakistan, would do well to learn a lesson or two here.
Since the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, the US has been increasingly sceptical of Pakistan’s motivations and games. Not that the US realised the duplicity of Islamabad only on May 2011 when it conducted the special ops in Abbottabad; it was aware of Pakistan’s relationship with terror ever since it partnered with the rogue nation in the so-called Afghan Jihad. But it was equally wary of forsaking Pakistan, hoping against hope that it might be able to cajole or force Pakistan to mend its ways. The US knows it has failed in doing so.
The Chinese should not fall into the same trap as the US did and now continues to regret. It must therefore make a pragmatic move in the wake of the Pulwama attack, and pursue, like the US is doing, to compel Pakistan to dismantle terrorist groups and their sanctuary inside the country. China faces as much a threat from these groups and their activities as the US does , or India, for that matter.
The US has been quite clear in its stand on Pulwama attack. Washington’s approval and support for the Indian counter-terrorism operation has been unequivocal. It has since then added pressure on Pakistan to take immediate and visible action against JeM and other terrorist groups. It has time and again, like India, called Pakistan’s reported actions as inadequate and counter-productive. China has chosen not to measure up to its responsibility as a leading UN member-state.
The US has now warned that Pakistani groups are likely to carrying out further attacks in the Indian subcontinent since the Pakistani government has not shown any inclination to put an end to terrorism spawning within its territory. China should share part of the blame. It is the Chinese silence and action which has emboldened Pakistan in continuing the status-quo. During the latest hearing on ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment’ of the US intelligence community, the US Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, said “Militant groups supported by Islamabad will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests. He said Pakistan would continue to be a persistent threat for the US “ by deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counter- terrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China“.
These are very grave premonitions and the international community, including China, should not hesitate to either put enough pressure on Pakistan to divest itself of terrorist groups or punish it for continuing to foster terrorist groups and sponsor attacks against other countries and their people. China especially must move fast to change the growing perception in the international community that it was not serious about terrorism. Playing along with Pakistan could prove to be a bottomless pit for Beijing, as the US had realised it a little late in the day.