… think of Pakistan as another Syria, a nation with its national polity sliding into dysfunction and insurrection, immersed in a hostile environment of strategic enemies and failing states, a potential regional black hole of violence and chaos …
… except it has 180 million people, has nuclear weapons, and shares borders with two anxious world powers.
Over two-thirds of the flow of Pakistan's lifeline, the Indus River, originates in Kashmir and the threat of Indian interdiction has helped elevate the status of Kashmir to one of existential importance for Pakistan and its allies. Kashmir, therefore, is an arena in which India, Pakistan, and China express their considerable mistrust and animus. Low intensity disputes and occasional hot wars involving the underpopulated and barren regions of Aksai Chin, Gilgit Baltistan, “Azad Kashmir”, “China Occupied Kashmir”, “India Occupied Kashmir”, “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” or Jammu and Kashmir, depending on the reader’s prefererence, have roiled regional relations for decades.
The CPEC issue has the potential to amplify these long-standing conflicts and transform them into first order nationalist/security/strategic/China containment global hot buttons.
And India should be a supporter of the Uighur cause, he felt, if only for strategic reasons. “By raising support, helping us, the Indian government can have leverage (with China),” Hassan asserted.
In the case of CPEC, maybe helping out the liberation movement in Balochistan, but also yielding to the temptation to add a Xinjiang/Uyghur element, perhaps via Afghanistan, to the proceedings.
And for its part, the PRC is apparently keeping its "unleash hell in India via Pakistan-backed Kashmir jihadis" option open.
At the beginning of April, the PRC delegation at the UN blocked the designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist. Azhar and his group, Jaish-e-Mohammed or JeM, have vowed the destruction of India as the cornerstone of their campaign of jihad to "liberate" Kashmir. Indian intelligence has implicated his group in the notorious Mumbai massacre of 2008 and a January 2016 attack on an Indian air force base at Pathankot. It is widely assumed that Azhar is sponsored/protected by the Pakistan military as an anti-Indian asset.
The case against Azhar appears to be pretty much a slam-dunk but the PRC has blocked the designation multiple times at Pakistan's behest. Reading the tea leaves, in April the Indian government wanted to gain the designation as a statement that the PRC was ready to kick Pakistan to the curb for the sake of closer ties to India, but apparently PRC wasn't ready for that and is keeping the Azhar card in its pocket for a more appropriate moment.
Indian nationalist dismay at the Indian government's decision to revoke the visa for Uyghur World Congress leader Dolkun Isa to the Dharmasala conference seems to be founded in the belief that the visa was originally issued as retaliation for the PRC move at the UN, and the Indian government then backed down.
This is pretty tricky terrain. The PRC, which I would characterize as a powerful, high-functioning state that's done a pretty good job looking after itself in a hostile neighborhood for the last few decades, has the ability to manage a tense "frenemy" relationship with India. But if the onus is on Pakistan to serve as the PRC's partner, ally, and instrument along the CPEC route...
As I wrote over at Asia Times: