Is Pakistan on a roller coaster ride to failure or a failed state? The Economic Times report of today says that ” Sources in POK reveal that special quarantine centres have been set-up in Mirpur and other major cities in the occupied regions to cleanse the Punjab province of Covid-19 patients as army top brass has ordered that no positive patient should be anywhere near where Army facilities as the Army family housing is there.” Such a state of affair can only happen in a country where a dictatorship exists. Such a move also highlights the crocodile tears that Pakistani government and Pakistani Army shed on the plight of people in Jammu & Kashmir. On the other hand if we were to take the situation in Kashmir, the government of India has laid strict measures in containing the spread of virus in J & K.. We can imagine what will happen to POK in the event of relocation of mass cases of COVID 19 into POK and Gilgit. This also must raise the hackles of the world community as to the hollow claims being made by Pakistan on Kashmir. The people of Kashmir must also realise who their true friends are. Although the MEA has condemned the move but in humanitarian consideration, WHO must raise its voice very strongly to stop this human relocation.
A few days back Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the larger interest of the people of South Asia had called for SAARC summit meeting through Video Conferencing. He had proposed raising of a 10 million dollar fund to combat COVID 19 as also offer medical and other related assistance to the member countries. The only country which instead of being part of this decision chose to raise the issue of Kashmir was Pakistan. One wonders as to what has gone into the minds of Pakistani Political and Military leadership. A number of SAARC countries have benefitted from India in terms of medical assistance following the summit meet. Pakistan on the other hand continues to ignore this forum and has approached various world agencies and its ever green friend China for help and loan waivers. It also continues to raise anti India issues on Article 370 and CAA but has not met with any success, except probably a perfunctory support from Turkey and Malaysia. As far as China is concerned there are no free lunches given by them. Aid to Pak will come at a huge cost from China. In any case, there seem to be a huge shadow of possible failure of CPEC, the golden project of OBOR of China in Pakistan due to recent developments and huge debt of Pakistan.
Pakistani leadership’s actions are bewildering. Presently it needs to worry about the burgeoning cases of COVID 19. Till now there are over 2708 cases of confirmed corona cases as against India which has around 2,902 till now. This has been caused due to presence of large Chinese community, influx of population from porous borders of corona infested Iran and Afghanistan, which does not even recognise the problem. Their wows have been further compounded by large international debts, lack of funds and grossly inadequate medical facilities to combat COVID19. In this context the response of PM Imran Khan to a question by Muhammad Malik Head of Hum News channel and former editor, The News, The Muslim, MD P TV on 24 March was unable to respond effectively to address questions related to economic package announced for dealing with COVID 19 situation. While responding to him, he seemed totally out of his depth in addressing the economic package to deal with COVID19 problem. Infact, on lockdown his reason for having delayed the lockdown was downright illogical. Mr Malik in his tweet has mentioned, “Who will explain to PM Imran Khan that Italy got where it is today cause it did not do a lockdown when it was needed- before the crazy spread of virus and not after – and he says he’ll do it if we reach the stage of Italy or Spain. Seriously? Did I hear him right?” It is not surprising then to see as to why Pakistan has taken such an inhuman step of dealing with COVID by transporting COVID 19 positive cases to POK and Gilgit Baltistan. In time of a global pandemic Pakistani leadership seems to have lost its bearing and continues to bark upon the wrong tree. It is not only embarrassing itself but also putting the people of Pakistan into grave danger. Such a state of affair may be signaling a paralysis of leadership and explosion of COVID 19 cases in Pakistan. So the implication of such situation needs to be analysed and acted upon in time by India lest we are overtaken by a new set of problem.
The likely fall out are firstly, there may be a panic situation in PoK and Gilgit –Baltistan resulting in demographic shift towards J & K and adjoining areas. Therefore, we must guard the borders more rigorously to prevent illegal migration of people of PoK into J & K either across the LC or via the International border especially in the areas of Jammu and Punjab. In fact there may be an outside chance of a larger influx of human population putting not only India into danger but the entire South Asia unless some proactive international intervention is done and India seals its external traffic strictly.
Secondly, under extreme economic pressure Pakistan may lose its group over the various terrorist groups that it employs as proxy. As per renowned Pakistan watcher Christine Fair, it has happened in the past when JeM split into two over its move to fight in Afghanistan instead of J & K defying their master’s voice the ISI. Though later in 2016 Azar Mahmood fell in line with ISI. Further the failing economy may force the Pak based terrorists to renegade and start operating independently in J & K as also in other parts of our country as lone wolves. This demands continued close watch over Pakistan and deploying our intelligence resources to prevent any terror related incidents in our country.
Thirdly, however remote it may sound but an independent behavior of the Army, worsening economic situation and a failing political leadership may be right recipe for Pakistan Army to step in and commence an era of military dictatorship. It has been historically seen that more often than not the Pak Army has taken irrational steps in the past be it 1948, 1965, 1971 or 1999. Hence, India needs to remain prepared for any misadventure that may come across from the border.
We must be cognisant that Pakistan is in an extremely precarious situation and we as a nation cannot let our guard down while combating COVID19, because as they say precaution is better than cure.