Don’t Fall For Michael Kugelman’s Attempt To Drive A Wedge Between Pakistan And China
Michael Kugelman, who’s the writer of Foreign Policy’s weekly South Asia Brief as well the Asia Program deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center in Washington, is once again spreading false innuendo about Pakistan. I explained my critical take of his activities in a Twitter thread late last year that can be read here where I shared my suspicions that he purposely provokes Pakistanis in pursuit of ulterior information warfare motives. Quite a few folks there passionately dislike his regularly misleading takes about their country and often publicly correct him on Twitter.
One of his latest tweets is a perfect example of this. Kugelman wrote the following on Friday:
“Putin met Xi today in Beijing-meaning that Imran Khan was not the first world leader to meet in person with Xi since the pandemic began. Some Chinese media accounts suggested he would be. The fact that Xi met with Putin before iron bro Pak PM is notable. Is a signal being sent?”
It’s important to set the record straight before his latest innuendo misleads any more people.
Russia and China are in a comprehensive strategic partnership that just unprecedentedly strengthened following the joint statement that they released during their presidents’ meeting that same day. Both Great Powers serve as equal engines of the emerging Multipolar World Order and are being victimized by the US’ attempted “containment” efforts. It’s therefore natural that their presidents would prioritize meeting one another during Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing. Pakistan is also important for China and is a very respected strategic partner too, but it’s nowhere near as globally significant for China as Russia is.
While it’s true that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) serves as the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project and is therefore of global strategic importance, those two countries’ partnership still isn’t capable of shaping the ongoing global systemic transition away from the US’ declining unipolar hegemony and towards multipolarity like the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership does. Nobody should have any illusions about this. It doesn’t mean that Pakistan lacks global importance, just that it cannot reasonably be compared to Russia in this respect.
What Kugelman seems to be slyly doing is planting the seeds of distrust between Pakistan and China by implying that President Xi Jinping rudely snubbed Prime Minister Imran Khan for President Vladimir Putin. That’s not an accurate reflection of reality whatsoever at all but is akin to a weaponized information warfare narrative meant to manipulate the minds of his target audience, many of whom are Pakistanis. He’s doing so indirectly in a supposedly “plausible deniable” way so that he can gaslight by playing dumb if he’s publicly called out for this like I’m currently doing.
This observation suggests that he’s a very wily “perception manager”, to put it politely, one who knows exactly what he’s doing and how to do it. His examined tweet isn’t an inexplicably ignorant one by someone who should know better by virtue of his professional position but is a deliberate information warfare provocation made with hostile intent. Everyone needs to become aware of this regrettable reality, especially the Pakistani members of his audience. His provocative tweets must no longer be seen as the ignorant musings of someone who knows better but as “soft attacks” against Pakistan.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.