It doesn`t happen till it happens
BY J AW E D N AQV I | 6/2/2015

FOR all their caring and offers of help to alleviate Nepal`s trauma from the recent earthquake, there were countries in the melee of do-gooders that are primed to inflict far greater devastation on the planet than any rumbling of the earth has ever brought.

From their self-congratulating headlines, we could count India, Pakistan and China, three of Nepal`s close neighbours, among the nuclear-armed aid givers to the stricken landlocked country. At home they keep their gunpowder dry to inflict unspeakable horrors in any neighbourhood and, inevitably, on themselves.

If the United States, Israel and Russia were delivering aid in Nepal, it would make them six dangerously weaponised countries involved in a schizophrenic humanitarian enterprise. Had they been not so bipolar, they would have discussed the consequences of keeping nuclear weapons and the possibility of a nuclear accident with their own people. When did you last hear a discussion, leave alone an informed briefing, on your favourite TV channel about what awaits you if a conflict or an accident were to occur? As if to prove the point two dire statements were delivered by poker-faced individuals in the last few days. Financial czar George Soros warned of a Third World War, which he said looked imminent as things stand. It would be triggered by the spiralling tensions between China and the United States. Soros pinned his different and possibly sounder explanation on predatory economic rivalries rather than the routinely reported Spratly Islands stand-off in the South China Sea. The latter could be the trigger like the pork and beef-larded cartridges in the 1857 Indian revolt. The underlying cause for the arriving conflict, according to Soros, was the collapsing Western dominance of the global economy, with China in the driver`s seat.

Closer to home, Pakistan`s national security advisor Sartaj Aziz was rooting for his country`s nuclear arsenal this week, weapons he claimed had successfully `shattered India`s dreams` of becoming a regional hegemon. What made the comments seem exaggerated was the contrary public assertion by Pakistan`s army that Indian espionage was fomenting trouble deep inside the country. The two statements contradicted each other and also highlighted the inefficacy of nuclear weapons when not in use, and a far worse prospect for the country should it mistakenly find reason to consider their use. Pakistan`s current existential problem is rooted in religiously motivated militancy, and if India were indeed fomenting anything of the kind India`s defence minister did say he wants to use terror to kill terror then neither country would survive bigotry`s Frankenstein-like propensity for unbridled nihilism.

Mr Aziz was speaking on the day Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj was extolling the virtues of not `engaging` with Pakistan at all till some conditions were first met, including sending a key Mumbai terror suspect to jail. Usually neighbours talk whenthings are not working out between them. Sulking or finding excuses not to talk can have other reasons. Mr Aziz may have offered one.

A give-away in his public fulminations was a reference to the Pakistan-China economic corridor and to its unnamed enemies who he said were trying to sabotage the mega billion-dollar project. This then is the big story from South Asia that links up with Mr Soros`s warnings about an imminent global conflict.

According to the thesis, the ascendance of China`s currency posed a threat to the dollar. It could see Beijing militarily aligning with Russia, which would result in a world war.

While admitting that reaching agreement between the two countries will be difficult to achieve, Mr Soros speaking at the World Bank`s Bretton Woods conference last week warned that unless the US makes `major concessions` and allows China`s currency to join the IMF`s basket of currencies, `there is a real danger China will align itself with Russia politically and militarily, and then the threat of world war becomes real`. So who are the enemies of the China Pakistan economic corridor that want to subvert it? According to an assessment by Bill Holter writing in the Global Research journal China (apart from being the world`s largest manufacturer and exporter) has got more gold than the United States, anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 tons.

If China does make an announcement of how much gold it has, the yuan will appreciate greatly versus all major currencies. Many believe China will never do that because it could kill its own manufacturing base.

But, says Holter: `The Chinese are very smart people, they can see the West is hitting the debt wall.

They also know that as the wall is hit and markets begin to implode, their `customers` are going to have an even harder time buying Chinese-produced goods.

In fact, they already know this. They already know this is happening and can see it in their trade figures ... which is why they recently formed the AIIB and are working feverishly to open the `old silk road` trade route! They are simply lining up new customers from one end of the silk road to the other! Thus while TV addicts in India, Pakistan and elsewhere are persistently encouraged to stay focused on the shifting whereabouts of a Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi here or a Hafiz Saeed there, a determined effort to mask the global linkages at play in the South Asian conundrum strives to blur the larger reality. If Mr Soros has offered us an insight into the complex skein of international stakes how will his ominous prophesy play out between South Asia`s nuclear-armed rivals? Regardless of the merit in Mr Soros`s warning, ordinary Indians and Pakistanis might at least start discussing his concerns in the knowledge that often things don`t happen till they happen.

For all their help to Nepal to cope with a massive natural calamity, neither India, nor Pakistan, nor China has a fraction of the ability to deal with the fallout of any man-made miscalculation. •
The writer is Dawn`s correspondent in Delhi.

Published in Dawn