Manzoor Ahmed

The world is becoming wary of the frequency and the irresponsible manner in which two countries of indulging in loose N-talk. North Korea’s roly-poly dictator Kim Jong-Unis focused on reducing Trump’s America to ashes with his nukes. Another nation which brags about its nuclear arsenal almost as frequently is Pakistan; its target for nuclear attack, however, is India; the US will face only verbal attacks because Pakistan still hopes to milk Uncle Sam by claiming an eminent role in solving its own creation- Afghan imbroglio.
When much of the world denounces Kim and his empty war talks, Pakistan usually chooses to remain silent. It could be because of the old friendship between North Korea and Pakistan that has been sustained over long years in mutual interest; this by itself is an ominous signal of the two rogue nations joining hands to disturb world peace.
It is, of course, no coincidence that North Korea and Pakistan had secretly, or perhaps not so secretly, collaborated in building each other’s nuclear assets: Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan selling to North Korea the knowhow—ironically stolen by him from Europe–for a nuclear bomb and, in exchange, North Korea providing the blue print for missiles.
The transaction between the two countries took place during the Cold War era when Pakistan was a darling of the US and the West. That ensured that no fingers would be raised as Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan’s ‘Islamic Bomb’; the Pakistani military and the Communist regime in the Korean peninsula collaborated on helping each other’s nuclear capability.
But now that Pakistan, rushing into becoming a Chinese province, has chosen to confront the US, its biggest benefactor till date, the Americans have been limply calling it to ‘do more’ to eradicate its terror networks. The US has also been reminding Pakistan of ensuring that its vast nuclear assets are kept safe from the state-backed ‘non-state actors’, the jihadi warriors whose field of operation extends to both the eastern and western borders of Pakistan—India and Afghanistan.
The response from Pakistan has been as cavalier as North Korea’s. Statements from the Pakistani Generals as well as politicians are flippant. Not reassuring about the safety of its nuclear arsenal (bigger than India’s). Even more casually they warn of unleashing a nuclear war in the sub-continent if India does not hand over Kashmir to the ‘land of the pure’. This is not very dissimilar to the way Kim boasts that his bombs can very soon be able to hit targets on the mainland United States.
Kim’s paranoia about the US is identical to Pakistan’s obsession with India. Kim has assured himself that the US is out to destroy his country; Pakistan seeks to grab not only Kashmir but dreams of subduing the whole of India to ‘restore’ Muslim rule and revive the Moghul Empire in South Asia.
If that sounds too outlandish, consider why certain ‘tanzeems’ in Pakistan, the religion-inspired militant outfits headed by the likes of Hafiz Sayeed, declared an international terrorist by the UN, have been rapidly gathering force in the country. Unmindful of the terrorist label—and a $10 US bounty—Hafiz Sayeed is plunging into ‘mainstream’ politics.
The US is worried, but that will not stop Hafiz Sayeed. The speed with which he is hurtling into the world of politics might be seen as worrying for the Pakistani ‘mainstream’ politicians. But there is no sign of it because the assumption seems to be that things would be manipulated in a way that Hafiz Sayeed actually does not take over the reins of the country but becomes a powerful voice, echoing the wishes of the military and pandering to the bigoted masses.
Hafiz Sayeed would not have taken the decision to join ‘mainstream’ politics but for two factors: tacit support by the all-powerful military and his wide acceptance by the radicalised masses. He holds his audiences spell bound with his anti-India vitriolic, working up frenzy while inviting volunteers for jihad against India. The accounts of his ravings and ranting are extensively published and telecast within Pakistan. There is a clear attempt to propel Sayeed into the thick of ‘mainstream’ politics of Pakistan.
There can be no doubt whatsoever that in the event of his becoming a powerful political actor he would sound like another Kim, talking of war and holocaust at the drop of a hat. While Kim may actually have to wait to execute his doomsday threats to the US, partly because of the long distance that separates the two countries Pakistan leaders feel tempted by India’s proximity.
North Korea has survived because of the benign and lavish patronage that it receives from its neighbor, Maoist China. Pakistan has been luckier because the Americans spared no efforts to help it with cash and latest military equipment during the long years of Cold War while rich Arab nations pumped in money on a ‘brother’, ostensibly to pull it out of poverty. Pakistan feels certain that the ‘loss’ of help (cash and military hardware) from the US will be made up by China.
North Korea has rebuffed the Chinese who reportedly asked Kim to give up his dangerous and insane rhetoric. It is quite possible that the Chinese were actually never keen to tame Kim and his ruthless regime where he thinks nothing of killing his own kith and kin, not to speak of ‘traitors’.
In Pakistan ‘forced disappearance’ has long been practiced, especially in the restive Balochistan. Bumping off political rivals is not uncommon in Pakistan. North Korea can keep its impoverished masses under stupor by whipping up sentiments against the US; Pakistani masses are easily lulled by the fear of India which the Pakistanis conjure up constantly even while boasting that their military and nuclear prowess are superior to India’s.
Pakistan today has ears only for the Chinese who have bestowed a $50 billion ‘gift’ in the shape of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a showpiece of China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Pakistan is able to make the Americans eat their words because harsh words from America are generally not followed by any ‘action’ on the ground. Not surprising that Pakistani Generals and civilian leaders continue to feel free to talk belligerently and recklessly, much like Kim.