Editorial✍ Prelims cum Mains

Use the IMF route to tighten the screws on Pakistan

Pulwama attack:

  • The terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy on February 14 at Pulwama has caused outrage in India.
  • The Jaish-e-Mohammad, Masood Azhar’s terrorist outfit located in Pakistan, has owned up to the attack.

India’s response:

  • India took up large diplomatic endeavours to get all the countries to condemn the attack by Pakistan based terrorist groups.
  • India also undertook anti-terrorist air strikes, destroying terrorist bases in Pakistan.

Pakistan worried after Indian air strikes:

  • Fearing another surprise Indian strike, much of Pakistan’s airspace is still closed to commercial traffic: Most international overflights remain barred, while domestic flights must stick to a narrow western corridor close to Iran and Afghanistan.
  • Pakistan’s armed forces are on full operational alert, with combat air patrols continuing and the army building up deployments along the India frontier.

But Pakistan is still not ready to take strong steps against terrorist groups:

  • Pakistan is ignoring international calls to take concrete, irrevocable steps against the terrorist groups that operate openly from its territory.
  • Even while announcing the Indian pilot’s release as a “peace gesture”, denied Pakistan is cultivating terror groups but justified terrorist attacks and suggested Pulwama was an Indian conspiracy.
  • Pakistan army does not want to end support to terrorist groups:
    • Pakistan has yet to take the first credible step, which is to declare a policy to deny sanctuary and financing to all terrorist groups.
    • Also, any such policy will be meaningful only if it is embraced by the chief of army staff (COAS) and the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC).
    • That is because the COAS remains Pakistan’s effective ruler.

 

Pakistan emboldened by China’s support:

  • Pakistan, while fearing more strikes by India, is emboldened by China’s support (which prevented Masood Ashar from being designated a global terrorist).
  • China’s support is aimed at thwarting international pressure on Pakistan to take credible, irreversible anti-terror actions.

Proxy wars against India by Pak and China:

  • Pak: Pakistan is waging proxy war against India by using terrorists.
  • China: One can also see China’s own proxy war against India by employing Pakistan to contain India’s rise. While reaping an ever-increasing trade surplus with India, China is systematically undermining Indian interests.

 

International action needed to curb Pak-based terror:

  • If India-Pakistan escalation into war is to be averted, major powers (despite lack of China’s support) must put pressure on Pakistan in various ways.

Using the IMF route:

  • Pakistan’s economy is in trouble. It is trapped in a vicious circle, seeking new loans to repay old ones.
  • Despite recently getting $7.5 billion in cash from Saudi, Emirati and Chinese transfers, it cannot do without a large IMF bailout.
  • It desperately needs a $12 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.
  • This can be a major source of international leverage against Pakistan.
  • An international financial squeeze can effectively force Pakistan’s hand. The IMF should bail out debt-ridden Pakistan only in return for concrete anti-terror action.
  • Role of US is key in this regard:
    • The key to using the IMF route is the US, which has the IMF clout (with a dominant 17.46% voting share) to put off the impending bailout or tie it to specific conditions.
    • India must seek to persuade the US — and other key IMF members like Japan and Germany, with 6.48% and 5.60% voting shares respectively — to not let go the present opportunity to reform Pakistan.
  • But US needing Pakistan’s help to withdraw from Afghanistan complicates matters:
    • US President Donald Trump’s administration has refused to acknowledge Pakistan’s token anti-terror measures, and has insisted Pakistan take “sustained, irreversible action against terrorist groups”.
    • However, Trump’s zeal to finalise a Afghan Taliban (Pakistan-created) offers Pakistan’s generals a way out of US pressure.
    • Through their proxies, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, Pakistani generals have compelled the US to negotiate the terms of its exit from Afghanistan and to seek Pakistan’s help in finalizing the deal.
  • US needs to understand any success in Afghanistan depends on Pakistan ending support to terror groups:
    • US wants to honourably end its war in Afghanistan, and needs the Taliban to uphold terms of any deal. However, this will work only if US makes Pakistan’s generals realise that sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan carries major costs.
    • If the generals are to take concrete anti-terror steps, US must take tangible steps, including stripping Pakistan of its “Major Non-NATO Ally” status, adding it to its list of State sponsors of terrorism, or at least leveraging the IMF bailout.

An unconditional IMF bailout will only help China:

  • Pakistan is the largest recipient of China’s Belt and Road financing (in the form of loans), thus getting trapped in China’s debt-trap diplomacy.
  • The accumulated debt is too much for Pakistan and it cannot afford to repay them. China’s high interest lending to invest in CPEC projects has contributed to Pakistan’s dire financial situation, locking it in debt servitude to China.
  • Today, an IMF bailout without any conditions will only aid China as it will push Pakistan to repay its debts (to China).

 

Conclusion:

  • Pakistan has long employed fiscal blackmail, where it says the regional and world security will be at peril if its economy falls apart.
  • Over the years, this blackmail has brought in foreign aid and lending, but they have only helped support Pakistan’s collusion with terrorist groups.
  • If Pakistan is unwilling to sever its links with state-nurtured terrorists, it is better for the world to let it fail than to continue propping up its military-cleric-jihadist complex with aid and loans.
  • The treatment now must centre on making Pakistan take verifiable and unalterable anti-terror steps.

 

 

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