The economic reality of US threats

A Pak-US war is an empty threat, given the interests of China and India plus the economic condition of America.

Shakeel Sadiq Jajja October 03, 2011
There has been a wave of American threats of war against Pakistan if the latter does not take action against the Haqqani network reportedly operating from the Pak-Afghan border. There is, thus, widespread concern among already economically miserable and politically devastated Pakistanis if an open US-Pak war is about to take place or the current threats are another jugglery of the US to put forward a new do-more agenda.

This distress among Pakistanis is feeding upon the ongoing discourse on local and international print and electronic media, and the latter are doing their jobs pretty well to fatten the fear. Let's see if the war ground can really be extended to Pakistani mainland, given the vulnerable interests of other fast growing economic players of the region, specifically China and India.

The 2011 report titled "Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century" by the Asian Development Bank notes that Asia is expected to contribute 50% of world's total GDP in 2050 and 70% of the world's added capital stock in 2030. On deeper investigation it is not difficult to find that China and India are the main contributors in this emerging Asian economic boom. The report notes that India's GDP per capita will rise by more than three times, and that of China by more than double. Looking at the given statistics and explicit aspirations of India to become, as she says, the Asian tiger and the current international status of China, I believe that there are too dear and powerful stake holders to overlook for the US to extend this war into Pakistan's mainland.

India is always perceived as an interested party in any warfare expedited against Pakistan. However, this time, India, which is living in the glassy economic walls, would not want to indulge with conventional war against Pakistan.

Indian defence minister has explicitly expressed the same a few days after the US allegations against Pakistani intelligence agencies. India has much more to lose economically than it had a couple of decades ago. Wars are not good for economic growth, which India has seen recently. The region is growing as a manufacturing hub for the world and India is the second largest country in this setup. The war in Pakistan's mainland would immediately harm Indian economic interests, even if India does not engage itself directly.

So far Pakistan has been serving as a buffer between the US lead Afghan war and Indian Territory and the buffer is paying the war cost. If war is brought into Pakistan's mainland, it will directly expose India with war's economic side effects. If India wants to sustain its speed of growth it must demonstrate to the world, which is investing heavily in India since a couple decades, that the Indian market place is not vulnerable to any sort of war damages.

China, emerging as a powerful state in the world, has strategic economic interests in Pakistan. Pakistan provides access to rich Middle East market through Gawadar Port. China's route to Middle East's market will become inoperable in case of any expedition of US on Pakistan. Also, Pakistan provides a defence to China against India, which has burning territorial dispute on China-India border.

If the US lead war is extended into Pakistan's mainland, the action would kill both advantages which China enjoys currently.  The presence of the US army in Pakistan will also create the US-India joint venture on the Chinese border, which is never acceptable to China in the long run. As a result, the world has recently witnessed China's immediate response against US war threats to Pakistan and a following visit of Chinese Premier to Pakistan. China owns the veto power and economic muscle, which it will use to keep the presence of the US army away from its border.

How could I ignore to include the implications of current bailed-out economic position of the US?

Frankly speaking, America cannot afford to trigger a new war, at least at this point of time, when it is seeking capital investment from a third world country like India to create employment in American job market. Its economy cannot afford a new war except the war slogans in efforts to retain Obama's vote bank until the upcoming elections in the US. The current administration has to take back their faces to their voters and this time, since Osama is apparently not available, they have chosen Pakistani shoulder to put off their burden.

Also, this is a good time to push another list of do-more in the same blow.
Shakeel Sadiq Jajja A PhD Management candidate at LUMS who follows national and international politics actively.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


FAK | 12 years ago | Reply Being a Pakistani, I'm all for sanctions against my country. We have everything, yet we beg for foreign aid. Only when we start to starve will we learn to be independent in its truest sense.
Anoop | 12 years ago | Reply No person with wisdom and knowledge about how the Geo-Politics work will say US will declare war against Pakistan. Why will the US use the war card if it can hurt Pakistan without losing a single soldier? US will most probably Sanction Pakistan, impose trade embargoes and stop International Institutions from giving Aid to Pakistan. Pakistan being the way it is, will be hurt. I dont see Sanctions, but definitely some covert sanctions. Suddenly IMF and WB will not be so receptive to Pakistani concerns.
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