Toronto: Pakistan "stands to gain" from the death of Osama bin Laden and an early withdrawal of US-led NATO forces will only help Islamabad realise its goal of gaining "strategic depth" in Afghanistan, warns a veteran Canadian journalist who reported from India in the early 1960s.
"If Pakistan gains control of Afghanistan through a puppet government or even direct military force, the Indian government will correctly assume that Islamabad`s larger goal, as always, is a destabilised India," wrote veteran David Van Praagh, who reported for the Globe and Mail from Delhi and has authored the book `The Greater Game: India`s Race with Destiny and China`.
In a scenario which benefits Pakistan, he wrote on Thursday in Ottawa Citizen, "Another armed conflict between India and Pakistan, each with 100 nuclear weapons more or less, could well literally bring about nuclear fallout. The two countries, senselessly carved out of British India in 1947, have fought four non-nuclear wars, all started by Pakistan and won by India."
The veteran journalist said, "Pakistan, which clearly sustained and succoured him (Osama bin Laden) on its soil for more than five years, ironically stands to gain from his demise at the hands of US Navy Seals."
Osama was gunned down on May 02 by US commandos who stormed the al Qaeda leader`s hideout in Pakistan`s Abbottabad city.
In sheltering the al Qaeda leader, he said, Islamabad`s motive "was - and is - to control Afghanistan, the historic gateway to the Indian subcontinent, for the `strategic depth` it supposedly provides against India. But there`s no question that the corrupt military and civilian elites misruling Pakistan will be closer to their goal if US and NATO forces leave sooner than planned - long before 2014 - on the false premise that bin Laden`s end weakens the Taliban".
He warned that China, Pakistan`s only real ally apart from Saudi Arabia, is "waiting breathlessly" for international forces to pull out of Afghanistan and the Pakistanis to move in.
"This would allow the resource-hungry despots ruling China with an iron fist to exploit copper and other natural resources in Afghanistan. More important, it would extend Chinese hegemony into Central Asia and the Subcontinent, an intrusion that democratic India - and the United States - could not tolerate."
Urging the US to break off "its outrageously misnamed alliance" with Pakistan, the writer said, "The next thing is for the United States and India, and other democracies notably including Canada, to forge a closer strategic alliance than has been the case since former president George W Bush reached a groundbreaking nuclear agreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."