THE focal point of US foreign policy has largely shifted away from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific. India and US Be BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) that will allow sharing of high-end military technology, classified satellite data and critical information between the two countries. These two “strategic partners” also boosted bilateral defence and military ties. Pompeo will also be visiting Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
China urged Mike Pompeo to “stop sowing discord” between Beijing and countries in the region, undermining the regional peace and stability. There is a massive US military presence all around China and in the Indo-Pacific region. Many US military bases are stationed mostly in Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Guam and Australia. US is bullying other countries to pick sides between the two powers i.e. China and the USA. Joe Biden also will not be soft on China. Now China has no other alternative but to match its “economic miracle” with a military one. On Oct.15, President XI told the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps to focus their energy on “preparing for war”. This indicates that China is ready to protect its interests, even if it means an all-out war.
The Belt and Road Initiative is in full swing. When completed, the China-led infrastructure network will establish connectivity throughout Asia as well as the Middle East and Africa and China could become a world-leading hub of trade, technological renovation and, of course, political power. The world is changing. A new world is emerging in which Washington and its allies will no longer shape the world for their corporate capitalist objectives. China is well on its way to reclaim its new status.
The US may have its strategic reasons to block Chinese influence in the region, but it should be well aware of the complexities that are weaved into inter-state regional dynamics here. Cozying up to India is one way in which Washington wants to resist the domination of China but this has a direct impact on its relations with Islamabad. Within the larger domain of superpower rivalry, Pakistan has followed a well-calibrated policy to maintain constructive relations with both China and the US. This suits us and there is no reason why we would want to weaken our ties with one power in favour of the other. With China, we have maintained a strategically close and well-aligned relationship since the 1970s, and both states have come even closer with the rolling out of CPEC. With the US, we continue to have a strong relationship which is currently paying dividends in many areas including Afghanistan.
It is a delicate balance that we have maintained but it can be adversely impacted if the US starts to enhance India’s military capabilities that can constitute a clear and present danger to Pakistan. Washington knows well how India attempted a failed bombing inside Pakistan in early 2019 and nearly brought the two countries to war. It was Pakistan’s strategic restraint despite thwarting Indian aggression which avoided an armed conflict.
However, the Narendra Modi government’s threatening statements against Pakistan continue to keep the region under the threat of violence. The US should weigh these factors well and ensure its actions contribute to promoting peace instead of feeding into India’s belligerence. This is a complex region and Washington should deal with it as such.
—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.