Prince MBS is safely back home after a historical visit of PINCH – Pakistan, India, and China. This is an emerging global strategic asset with a history of intimate ambivalence. I will come to it in a bit, but before that let me alert you that this visit was very, very historical but not for the reasons you think or those reported in the media.
His visit had deeper, complex, as well as secret reasons and meanings which only a few blessed ones know – and your’s truly happens to be one of those lucky blokes.
Its not just a coincidence that his visit followed Valentine’s eve. So yes, one of the layered reasons for the visit was certain assurance of love and peace. But that is the tip of the iceberg.
On PINCH (please never write it pinch with a small p, though you can try subversive patriotism by writing it Pinch: with capital P but trivializing other giants in small letters), India and China, like later India and Pakistan, had war in the 60s. China came out of the literal war games, and got into a better and bigger game – but India took its – and its neighbour’s time in getting that.
But Pakistan did what we are best at: being a critical part of someone else’s game! Just like there are champs of multi-tasking, we are champs of being in several concurrent games. Now, we are trying to be part of a new game led by the Prince, and a smarter game by the way.
Before Prince MBS, once upon a time and long, long ago Princess Dianna also graced us. But the sheen and shine of MBS visit overshadowed all other princely visits; even that of Bill Clinton quickie that followed the Kargil adventure.
The last time a Kingly figure from the KSA graced us that made us happy was during the Islamic Summit of 1973 when more than half of today’s Pakistan was not even born – King Faisal. He showered Pakistan and the Pakistanis with a lot of things – including the Faisal Mosque of Islamabad. But MBS outshined that grand show too.
The politics in and around South Asia has become very different since that Summit. China was not as big and important as now; and the US was not as irrelevant and unclear then. In those times, the USA had its blue-eyed boy in Shah of Iran. Now it has its black-bearded beauty in MBS.
At least, we on behalf of the US and for old times sake, can flaunt some continuity in the US foreign policy. A major difference though, a deal-breaker of sorts, is the CPEC.
I sprinkled a bit of history above as this spice is very rarely used in our foods for thought. Most of the Pakistani intelligentsia believes that the Test Match of history is made of continuous sets of T20s episodes of current affairs. Within that, the more current it has, the better the affair it is.
Its election year in India, and PM Modi needs as much security related fodder to add to Indians’ sentimental fire as possible. PM Khan wouldn’t like that, and MBS gladly agreed to help with it.
The USA was feeling, for the first time rightly, left out from Chinese game plan for South Asia – and MBS has been asked to open a window if not the doors.
Here, there is a story within a story. Sharif’s in their drive to bring more money got Chinese loans at high-interest rates with little sustainability, and bizarre conditions. Which many argue would make us too caught up in Chinese boxes and MBS’s gift of billions will help salvage in some way.
But, to top it all, we have been very generous in training the world how to weave the big bomb – and MBS after all is our own, in his own words, Pakistan’s ambassador in KSA. To reciprocate the billion red roses like petrodollars, we are happy to lend a piece of the Islamic Bomb, that too with the right sect to the right sect.
Let’s give the Crown Prince a big hand for being issme-basamma (living up to his name) – Money Buys Stuff, any stuff, all stuff.