It is truly ironic that politics can get in the way of India providing aid to Pakistan in its present crisis. Already greatly challenged economically for a plethora of reasons, Pakistan will need all kinds of assistance to overcome the effects of the ongoing natural disaster, which is believed to have caused damage amounting to more than 10 billion dollars. This will come with all kinds of strings attached from the usual donors, such as China and some countries of the Middle-East. The United Nations will help but mostly for immediate relief.
Even the short-term effect of this will mean Pakistan will go further down the road to ruin. Already, too many of its people exist at the subsistence level and its middle-class is rapidly diminishing. Only those who have made money through the corruption ridden system are in a position to continue living a ‘normal’ life. So, what can be expected to happen in the future? Has anybody any solutions to offer? Will the military be able to suppress the people’s discontent? What shape will the already polarised politics of that country take? How much longer will Punjabi domination be endured by the other provinces?
Over the decades, the ruling elite and the military, in particular, have chosen to create problems with India to distract the people’s attention. So, is a headline grabbing terrorist incident in the offing, which India must look out for? Or, will recent counters by India to such attempts discourage this tactical ploy?
It may seem an opportunity for China to obtain a stronger grip on Pakistan by offering its usual quid-pro-quo solution. However, Pakistan’s experience thus far has been mixed, to put it mildly. There is already great resentment among the people against the Establishment for having ceded sovereignty, particularly in Baluchistan.
All of this underlines the totally artificial nature of Pakistan’s nationhood. Will that nation’s people prefer China’s overlordship to good relations with India? That is the multi-billion dollar question!