There is appearing a significant transformation in the regional security of South Asia and the adjacent regions to the north and west.
There are three major players involved in this metamorphosis of South Asia.
Firstly, Iran has shown its tendency towards integrating with the international community. Secondly, the historic entente between Russia and China since the New Cold War bears high importance in this tranformation process. Thirdly, an extremely significant shift in the foreign-policy priorities of Pakistan, a ‘pivotal’ state in the politics of South Asia due to its excessively strategic geographic location, has already begun to appear.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan in May 2015 was of profound importance in bringing together the three players. Pak- China Economic Corridor (PCEC ) is an important pillar of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a global project in character and scope. Some consider the corridor as a diabolical move by the Beijing’s policymakers to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to challenge India, a common rival. But there is more than this in the building of the corridor. The motives driving the Chinese policies toward Pakistan seem to be more broader. And this clearly depicts the lasting nature of this friendly relation.
First, Pakistan’s stability has come to be a matter of serious concern from the perspective of China’s internal security needs, which is attributable not only to the spurt in terrorist activities in Xinjiang, a Muslim majority province, by groups that are to be traced to the Af-Pak region, but also out of China’s emergent concerns as a stakeholder in regional stability that is an imperative need to advance its regional and global policies more optimally and smoothly.
Therefore, on the one hand, China hopes to contribute to the stabilization of Pakistan in a way that the United States has never attempted in the entire chronicle of its alliance with Pakistan due to lack of genuine interest whilst in terms of both its self-interests and in the larger interests of regional security, China hopes to leverage its friendship and cooperation with Pakistan to reinforce the recent shifts in Islamabad’s policies toward terrorist groups.
Xi’s visit in 2015 to Islamabad marks the beginning of the end of American manipulation of the Pakistani policy calculus. It is a tactical move on China’s part; the wash out of Washington’s influence over Pakistan is also a strategic necessity for China, given the nature of Washington’s the “pivot to Asia” strategy.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan becomes a gateway for China to the world market and it is crucial for Beijing that Washington’s ability to block this gateway is “zero”. Pakistan is actually the single most critical gateway for China in the emergent paradigm. Arguably, that alone could explain the extraordinary extent to which China is making the stabilization of Pakistan a real-time dimension to its own national policies of development.
China’s relations with the Central Asian region are already advanced to a high level. Despite concerted U.S. endeavours to create unease in the Russian mind regarding China’s rising influence in the Central Asian region, the two great powers have reasonably seen through the American ploys and have carefully calibrated their moves in such a nanner that a significant degree of harmonization of their respective policies has been possible so far. China and Russia share a great anxiety about any emergence of Washington influence into Central Asia. Thus, both China and Russia have become stakeholders in the region’s security and the stability of the regimes there. The Moscow-Beijing entente has touched such a heightened level that makes it hard for America to create misperceptions between the two great powers.
Both China and Russia understand perfectly well that it is in their common interest to counter the U.S. regional strategies. They have no illusion that the U.S.’ containment strategy is aimed at both of them and, therefore, it is in their interest to coordinate their moves to defeat the U.S. agenda.
Obviously, a level of coordination between Moscow and Beijing as regards their regional policies toward Pakistan is also understandable. The Russian and Pakistani defense ministers signed an agreement in Moscow just two days prior to Xi’s arrival in Islamabad, marking the commencement of the first-ever military exercises between the two countries, taking a significant step forward in the direction of the “thaw” in the making in their overall relationship. Pakistan Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff recent visits to Russia clearly show Islamabad’s shift in its foreign policies.
For Russia, Pakistan’s cooperation is extremely important to augment its efforts to forestall the U.S.’s likely future plans to use violent Islamist groups as its geopolitical tool to destabilize Central Asian regimes.
Russia and China and Pakistan are also currently restructuring their policies toward Iran even as that country’s integration with the international community gets successful. Russia and China have inducted Iran and Pakistan into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization tent (SCO) as full members recently. The induction of these two strategically states is likely to bring the SCO to get out of the steppes of Central Asia into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.
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Dr Ali Ahmad
Email : [email protected]