For several decades since General Zia-ul-Haq took over power in Pakistan in 1977 and soon afterwards hanged Z.A. Bhutto, the Pakistan military specialised in carrying out “dirty” operations for the US military, and soon began doing the same for China. For decades, GHQ Rawalpindi would feed titbits about Beijing to Washington and do the same for its other force multiplier. Since the onset of the 21st century, beginning with the aftermath of the Iraq war, it is the Central Military Commission (CMC) that is getting the lion’s share of input from Rawalpindi about the other side. At least by the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, the Pentagon and State Department seem to have understood this, with the result that the flow of input has been affected in the manner that such knowledge brings. GHQ Rawalpindi still passes along chunks of intelligence from its network in India.

It is apparent that such (mis)information is substantially what the CCP leadership bases its India strategy on. As a consequence of the tactics favoured by the CMC, India is becoming more distant from China by the day. Something that gives immense pleasure to important voices in the Pakistan army, and to sighs of relief in Tokyo, Canberra and Washington that Delhi is gaining comprehension of the depth and nature of the challenge to security and society posed by the GHQ Rawalpindi-PLA alliance. India has long remained the Quad member most in thrall to the geopolitics of the past, but it is likely that Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi will ensure that this changes. All for one and one for all has to be the motto of the Quad in peace and war.

China, largely because of the generosity of spirit of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. Nehru’s successor from 1966, Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi understood from the threat posed by the US carrier Enterprise in 1971 that only a nuclear power was safe from a nuclear attack by another nuclear power. Pokhran I in 1974 established India as a nuclear force. It is not an accident or a coincidence that there has never been anything other than a proxy or conventional war between two nuclear powers. Pokhran-II ought to have taken place soon after the first “peaceful nuclear explosion”. The indomitable Homi Jehangir Bhabha and successors such as Anil Kakodkar put India on track to be a full-fledged nuclear power, and scientists in India carried on their work of developing a nuclear and missile. P.V. Narasimha Rao and his successors avoided further tests until Vajpayee came. India now has a deterrent sufficient to deter Beijing from initiating anything other than a conventional or non-kinetic exchange.

A professor from Manipal University had written in the Washington Times as early as in 2002 that Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail was bluff. In 2019, the nuclear bluff of Pakistan was called by PM Modi at Balakot. A nuclear attack on India would ensure retaliation that would destroy coastal cities on which the PRC economy depends. This is a bridge that even the India-phobic elements in the CMC will not want to cross, no matter what their outward bluster. Which is why there has to be a firm and at least a proportional response to any attack by the Sino-Pakistan alliance, kinetic or otherwise. The errors made from 1947 onwards in dealing with Pakistan and later China must not be repeated.