Clive had convinced himself that the Company’s trade in Bengal could only be truly safe when Siraj had been dethroned and replaced by a puppet….Clive was abetted by two colleagues… men of quick wit and elastic conscience who acted as emissaries to Siraj. Siraj grudgingly agreed to make peace in February. Large Afghan forces were operating in Punjab and might strike into South East and he was glad to hear that the Company were now his friend and would come to his rescue Siraj had been gulled.
Lawrence James, Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India

This remark applies to geo-economics as an instrument of geopolitical objectives in international equilibrium. Clive’s objective was mercantilism for a hold on Calcutta the biggest port of the sub-continent. It would allow the Company Bahadur to occupy the sub-continent and open doors to South East Asia and Burma. To achieve, he used men of elastic conscience inside Siraj’s cabinet to drive a perception that threat from Afghanistan was imminent and that he needed British assistance to curb it. Siraj was ultimately gulled by his two emissaries and Clive. The created perception of military vulnerability hastened Siraj’s cognitive construct into a weakness that did not exist.

Though mercantilism is supposedly gone, this colonial mind set has assumed new forms. In the third world and despotic regimes, notions of self-indispensability in backdrop of vulnerabilities still work to exploit and elasticize third world rulers, elites and money hungry groups. Vulnerabilities of rulers are exploitable and up for loot sale.

The entire advantage of using oil as a political weapon was neutralised by playing on Saudi vulnerabilities. The cause of the OIC Summit 1974 in Lahore was abandoned for a US security umbrella. The Saudi-US cooperation of dealing in oil-dollars had an economic implication for the Gold-Dollar Equation and Bretton Woods. This made American dollar a currency of choice and a big economic advantage. US global economic dominance was complete when USSR collapsed and China agreed to mould itself in the capitalist economy.

But this manipulation also extends to multinational corporations, finance houses and economic czars. The books and films like, ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Dogs of War’ are based on the big economic advantages manipulators accrue exploiting tribal rivalries and funding civil wars.

The recession in ASEAN in 1997-99 can be traced to similar manipulations. The net result is that many countries of the world like Congo, Sierra Leone etc. that have tremendous resources remain extremely poor forever mired in conflict. Had these countries been allowed to develop their resources, their landscapes would have rivalled the best in Europe. Pakistan has fallen into a similar trap.

The economic weapon of war is invisible. Many Muslim Countries still see Saudi Arabia as a leader of the Muslim world and not one that bartered them in exchange for its regime’s security. Factually, it is an outpost of US interests in the region and allowed to play its petty games within limits. Yet the clout that it exercises allows it to lead a coalition of Muslim armies and stare squarely at Russia. For Pakistan, it exercises a firm hold on policy making and Fundamentalism. In the Sunni dominated Muslim world, it calls shots. Ignorant zealots do it in the name of religion.

If the reader can absorb and understand the above factsheet, it becomes easier to understand the objectives of threatening Pakistan with an economic meltdown.

Given that military defeat is impossible, the crumbling must come from non-kinetic dynamics.. In case this crumbling does not take place, Pakistan becomes too strong to be made pliable; seen as a threat.  An optimistic scenario undermines Indian regional potential whilst propelling Pakistan as the undisputed leader of the Muslims. The underlying objectives can be better understood once the rising Chinese economic juggernaut and an asserting Russia are also factorised into the puzzle.

Therefore, the pressure of non-kinetic dynamics will accentuate. The baits for Pakistani rulers with flexible conscience are tempting. The game to cripple Pakistan short of conflagrating instability is in its definitive and so called democracy is playing it.

It is years since 1969, that Pakistan followed an export driven capital goods policy. The one that existed was done away with partition of Pakistan, demonetisation and nationalisation. General Zia despite his long tenure did little to make way for import substitution. Benazir’s IPP made Pakistan dependent on imported fuels. Hydel power policy was abandoned. President Musharraf’s turnover was built on incidental remittances to jack the economy that withered into a bubble of consumerism with opportunists making windfalls. Reducing imports, substitution through capital goods and exports would have enlarged the GDP and reduced dependence. Reorganisation of Pakistan State Oil ensured that levers of manipulating Pakistan’s economy were in safe hands. Pakistan’s net debt liabilities rather than walk into a trap would have reduced. Why such a self-destructive policy was followed needs explanation by Shaukat Aziz, PPPP and PML-N?

Some indicators in Charter of Democracy (COD) are self-explanatory. The most glaring and repetitive pertain to civil-military relations. A direct attempt was made mainly through the Haqqani Memo and control of ISI. According to COD, the military is responsible for terrorism.

As of today, the political ownership on the War on Terror remains missing.  In the short term, political parties find common cause with international actors (who see military as the custodian of the forbidden fruits). Hence elastic conscience comes into play.

The indirect approach is as visible as daylight.

There is no policy to fillip home grown sustainable growth. The industrial policy is in shams. All ‘ready to use’ indigenous resources in energy and agriculture are being ignored. The capped oilfield in Kholu and KPK remain capped. The Sindh government continues to block the prospects of lignite coal.

Shady financial deals with long term effects expose Pakistan to economic linkages beyond USA. Pakistan’s economy is being intrinsically tied to KSA and Qatar. CPEC will be kept on a breather till such time all international concerns are not met.

Rising internal and external debt, selling household silver, energy crises, falling exports and dependence on other countries are all part of the strategy of neo imperialism. In Pakistan, there is no dearth of carpetbaggers. Two mainstream political parties backed by some parts of domestic and international media will continue to build a mirage of goodness while the job is done.