A special guest post from “Sekundar.”
This should elicit more attention than it’s been getting; Selig Harrison asserts that the Chinese have between 7,000 and 11,000 soldiers in Pakistan-held Kashmir. The Chinese have had military in and out of the area since they built the Karakorum Highway as far as Gilgit, but so many is abnormal. Giving a paltry $30 million in flood relief so far (as compared to the U.S.’s hundreds of millions), the PRC has also sent the soldiers across the border to widen the Karakorum Highway linking Islamabad to Kashgar. Delhi has raised objections, but seemingly to no avail (WPR). Beijing has denied it, but it is in keeping with Chinese long term plans for the creating its own links in the region, including the deep water naval base at Gwadar, Baluchistan, and a proposed railway to what could be the world’s largest copper mine at Aynak in Logar, Afghanistan, which China obtained in 2007. I imagine this will only increase India’s desire to stock the recently rehabbed airbase at Ayni, Tajikistan.
How, at the non-governmental level, is the growing Chinese influence not raising the ire of average Pakistanis? The modern Chinese government has a solid reputation as oppressors of Muslims, gives far less than Western powers (see above aid figures), and is far more willing to deal with unsavory dictators in Pakistan and elsewhere. And now they have a larger military presence in the country than any other foreign power. Even the TTP can barely be bothered; it prefers killing innocent Shi’a much more (BBC). What gives?
|Sekundar works in national security, and has worked, studied, and traveled in many areas of Central and South Asia.|