There Might Be A Pattern To The Latest Incidents On Pakistan’s Afghan & Indian Borders
The latest incidents might have been artificially manufactured by Pakistan’s military establishment for the purpose of restoring their country’s relevance to the US and China in order to squeeze some financial aid from them. A supplementary ulterior motive could also be to gin up jingoism at home to distract from the de facto state of martial law and collapsing economy, not to mention as a pretext for possibly delaying elections.
Pakistan experienced two very serious incidents on its borders with Afghan and India this month thus far, with the first resulting a key border crossing being closed for nine days after a shootout while the second saw Delhi accuse Islamabad of facilitating a failed infiltration across the Line of Contact (LOC). Continued Pakistani-Taliban tensions naturally attract the US’ attention just like the newest Pakistani-Indian ones attract China’s since each has an interest in helping Pakistan contain that respective neighbor.
Not only do these latest incidents keep Pakistan relevant from their perspective, but they could also prompt them to extend various forms of aid to it too. Prior to recent events, Pakistan had slipped into self-imposed isolation as a result of its cascading crises brought about by April 2022’s post-modern coup against former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The economy crashed, a de facto state of martial law was imposed, and Pakistan’s traditional US and Chinese partners began to consider it to be a liability.
It's now suddenly back on their radars in a major way. The latest clashes with the Taliban reminded the US that Pakistan is indispensable for containing the Taliban even if those two’s tensions spoil any potential American plans to economically engage more with Central Asia via PAKAFUZ. Likewise, India’s latest accusations against Pakistan reminded China that Islamabad can help Beijing divert Delhi’s focus from their disputed frontier and thus restore its strategic significance after IMEC neutralized CPEC.
Accordingly, Pakistan’s military establishment stands to gain by renewed American and Chinese attention to their country’s strategic security significance if this translates into financial aid for helping to alleviate the economic consequences of its crises in exchange for Islamabad containing its respective neighbor. The situation is so bad nowadays that the press attaches in some Pakistani foreign missions such as those in DC, Hong Kong, and Singapore reportedly haven’t been paid since June 2023.
Seeing as how Pakistan no longer has any serious geo-economic significance for the US or China as was explained in the penultimate paragraph above, its military establishment might therefore have decided to weaponize its strategic security significance by provoking or exacerbating border incidents. To be clear, Pakistan is located in a very difficult region flush with conventional and unconventional security challenges, but that doesn’t mean that every manifestation thereof is natural or only targeting Pakistan.
As the past nearly 1,5 years since its former premier’s scandalous ouster attest, Pakistan’s military establishment occasionally manipulates national security pretexts in pursuit of its elite members’ financial and other interests. This institution is responsible for protecting the nearly quarter-billion people who live in their country, but its prior claims of innocence in the face of regional accusations about its motives were shattered by its top leadership’s own hand from April 2022 onward.
This observation means that there are grounds for wondering whether the latest incidents on Pakistan’s Afghan and Indian borders were artificially manufactured by its military establishment for the purpose of restoring their country’s relevance to the superpowers in order to squeeze some financial aid from them. A supplementary ulterior motive could also be to gin up jingoism at home to distract from the de facto state of martial law and collapsing economy, not to mention as a pretext for possibly delaying elections.
Neither the Taliban’s nor India’s objective interests are served by provoking Pakistan. The first might receive a short-term spike in support from radical ethno-nationalists but at the expense of suspending its people’s lifeline through Pakistan, while some might suspect that Prime Minister Modi wants to saber-rattle ahead of next spring’s elections but the BJP is so popular that this isn’t needed. The economy is booming, India successfully hosted the G20 Summit, and it’s now a globally significant Great Power.
Provoking Pakistan into cutting off trade from time to time only worsens the Afghan people’s poverty and thus makes more them susceptible to terrorist recruitment, hence why the Taliban is unlikely to make that its policy, while another Kashmir Crisis with Pakistan could reduce investor confidence in India. Both of Pakistan’s neighbors benefit by keeping the status quo, while the argument has been made that Pakistan’s military establishment benefits by unilaterally disrupting it.
The latest incidents on Pakistan’s Afghan and Indian borders have correspondingly attracted the attention of America and China, which reminded them of its role in containing those two after they forgot about this once Pakistan lost its geo-economic significance in their eyes. If it’s indeed the case that Pakistan’s military establishment is rekindling border conflicts for self-interested reasons, then this would represent an extremely dangerous dynamic that risks plunging South Asia into chaos by miscalculation.