According to the Chinese science of strategy, national interest is both the starting point and destination of military strategy. As part of her military strategy, China is vigorously employing soft power in foreign countries by surreptitiously inducting People’s Liberation Army (PLA) under garb of development projects. China’s strategic footprints in Pakistan and POK may have come in recent times but she had already inducted 15,000 Chinese in Afghanistan in year 2001 before the US invasion in Afghanistan got fully underway. Presence of some three million Chinese in Myanmar is well known and so is presence of Chinese nationals in India’s neighbors including recent surge in Sri Lanka where it is believed that company strength of PLA is disguised as development workers in Hambantota. These are strategic moves that enable both enlargement of the economic agenda and a switch when required. China views Afghanistan as a challenge against the US to influence Eurasia and build energy based Eurasian Security Architecture. Chinese scholars have been talking of an Asian Collective Defence Alliance based on SCO members and the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) headed by Russia. There have also been articles in Chinese media on forming the Pamir Group (China-Afghan-Pak Trilateral) with Chinese investments integrating AfPak and China through a quadrilateral freight railroad from Xinjiang through Tajikistan to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. China may not openly commit troops in Afghanistan but can employ the Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) if and when required to defend Chinese assets. For this reason, she is developing communication infrastructure conducive to quick deployment; PLA is constructing a 75 km road extending 10 km inside Afghanistan through the Wakhan Corridor. China perceives a more active role for herself in reconstruction and development of Afghanistan and will ensure steps to secure its economic interests in Afghanistan as 2014 approaches and beyond. It is for the same reason that China developed ties with the Taliban; training Taliban in Xinjiang before the US invasion, providing training in handling IR SAMs (2010 media report) and military advisors advising Taliban how to fight the NATO led ISAF. This should be no surprise since China had provided sanctuary to ULFA post their rout from Bhutan and is currently supplying arms to Indian Maoists and PLA in Manipur through Kachen rebels in Myanmar. Post 2014, Taliban (supported by Pakistan) would likely aim to capture Kunduz and Jalalabad first in order to provide depth to the Chinese road through the Wakhan Corridor. Agha Amin, defence analyst and former Pakistan army officer writes,
“Utopians in India are jubilant that Pakistan has made peace with India. Nothing in reality can be farther from the truth. …..The real picture of true intentions of the Pakistani military will emerge when the US withdraws from Afghanistan. This will be the time when the Russians, Iranians and Indians will have no choice but to support the Northern Alliance against Pakistan sponsored Taliban who regard all Shias, Ismailis, non-Pashtuns, moderate Pashtuns as infidels who deserve to be massacred… Pakistani politicians will remain the puppets of the military; terrorism will remain a tool of foreign policy while the Pakistani military runs the Pakistani state under a facade of PPP or PML or Tehrik-i-Insaaf. Pakistani military will be hoping to achieve all its objectives: an extremist dominated Afghanistan; a Baluchistan fully fragmented and crushed; a Pakistani political party leading Pakistan fully subservient to the Pakistani military; renewed infiltration in Kashmir; brinkman’s nuclear policy with India; a greater Chinese vassal with far greater Chinese interests in Pakistan… There is no doubt that Pakistan will be a semi autonomous Chinese province by 2030 or so… Pakistani Baluchistan by 2030 would be a completely Chinese run show… This means that Pakistan’s… ever growing reservoir of economically deprived youngsters who will fill ranks of extremists and suicide bombers will continue”.