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China And The War On Terror by Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami

C3S  Fortnightly Colmn No. F003 /2015

 The hosting of the high level summit on Countering Violent Extremism by the Obama White House has expectedly taken the flak for the reason that the United States has assumed for itself the leadership role in the campaign against global terrorism. China, for instance, was one among the first to comment letting loose a torrent of commentaries on its official mouthpieces, notably Xinhua.

There have been two aspects of the blistering critique—first, that any campaign cannot be led by the United States but only under the aegis of the United Nations; and second, that Washington had a dubious nexus with individuals and groups that it is now trying to neutralise. Washington, Official China maintains,has had a long habit of “co-habiting” with terrorists and terror outfits.

“On the world stage, the United States has assumed anti-terror leadership since the deadly Sept 11 attack in 2001, yet under its glossy surface, Uncle Sam seemed to have a secret identity as a terrorist breeder”, one write up in the influential mouthpiece said. Others apparently have referred to the highly dubious connections between the United States and noted terror outfits like the al Qaeda and more recently that of ISIS.

It is open knowledge that successive administrations in Washington have taken heat for associating and promoting groups, knowingly or otherwise, that have been on the wrong side of American national and strategic interests down the line. In an anxiety to bleed the then Soviet Union white, Washington took upon the grandoise scheme of arming the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s with sophisticated weapons including Stinger missiles and virtually turning that hapless country into a major terrorist haven upon the departure of Soviet troops. The American involvement in Afghanistan in the time after the Soviet invasion of the country in 1979 was a payback to Moscow’s role against America in the Vietnam war.

Some analysts will argue that Osama bin Laden was a direct disciple of the Central Intelligence Agency and through him many others that brought about havoc on not only the United States but through their subsidaries on other countries including India. But the real question to be posed is whether Washington goes about in a systematic and determined fashion to “breed” terrorists or has serious judgemental problem in promoting groups and individuals that are held out to be in national interests only to be proved otherwise down the line.

America, in other words, can only be dubbed as a country with a “secret identity as a terrorist breeder” by its inability to decipher what or who is in its national security interests. In fact there are many other countries, including India, who have been sharply criticised for being associated with groups and individuals who have been proved inimical to global and national security interests.

For that matter China too cannot escape attention and could be held morally responsible for its failed client state Pakistan which is seen the world over as the epicentre of terrorism. Can Beijing be held to a degree of accountability for what is taking place inside Pakistan or to what extent can China be seen as culpable for Islamabad’s global and regional terror activities that could even hurt Chinese interests?

In Xinhua’s rationale, the United States should be held accountable for breeding terrorists in Pakistan as it dishes out generous foreign aid and grants for anti-terrorism. But Xinhua’s pompous denounciations of the United States does not have a prominent mention of Pakistan, a close ally of Beijing who is not only in the business of promoting and facilitating terror but also in the dangerous game of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

The leadership in Beijing cannot be really blind to what is taking place inside Pakistan and yet its conspicous silence only makes statements on fighting global terrorism nothing more than meaningless barbs. Osama bin Laden was taken down right under the very nose of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)– at Abbotobad where he was supposedly living for three to four years. And all the time the leadership in Pakistan was feigning ignorance on the whereabouts of the al Qaeda leader!

The media is abuzz with reports that the President of China could be the Chief Guest at Pakistan’s Republic Day celebrations in March and could even have the major honor of reviewing a military parade. Perhaps this is also an opportune time for Xi Jinping to take time out to speak to his hosts on the kind of notoriety Pakistan is doing the rounds in the international community on terrorism. China for its part has its share of problems with terrorism coming by way of Islamic extremists and it should not be too surprised if some of these groups and individuals are already enjoying Pakistani and ISI largesse and hospitality!

 ( Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami has been a senior journalist with The Hindu in Chennai, Singapore and Washington and currently Heads the Departments of Journalism and Mass Communications and International Relations at SRM University, Chennai and can be reached at Views expressed here are personal.)

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