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Thursday, May 23, 2024

India, China, Pakistan & USA: Changing Power Dynamics?

DR. Moeed Pirzada sits in with Pravin Sawhney, Editor of Force Magazine.

DR. Moeed Pirzada sits in with Pravin Sawhney, Editor of Force Magazine, the author of the bestselling book The Last War: How AI Will Shape India’s Final Showdown with China (August 2022).  They discussed the rise of China, how the West sees it, who is leading the AI, China as an aggressive power, and CPEC. They also discussed the possibility of escalations on the borders and the possibility of India fighting on borders with both China and Pakistan, the discussion also highlights what makes Pakistan’s army so different than India’s. And what the future of South Asia and India would look like under Modi if he wins the next elections. 

DR. Moeed Pirzada: Can we say that China is a vis-à-vis West defensive posture rather than an aggressive nation, rather West is an aggressive side since they see China as an ascending challenging power as Thucydides thesis by Graham Allison explained, what do you make out of it? 

 I do not agree at all with this, Graham Allison was talking of big powers that have military contestation. What the Chinese are doing is quite different, from the Belt and Road initiative  they are offering prosperity and development to nations. So China is approaching differently rather than traditional powers. 

DR. Moeed Pirzada: Can the West and the US contain the Chinese Ballet and Road Initiative ?

The US and West cannot halt this upcoming of BRI. Because It is not dangerous for the world  where it is taking place , it is helpful for more than 140 countries. What the US needs to understand is that China’s growth is due to American help since the late 70s they backed China economically and globally. 

DR. Moeed Pirzada: But Americans were helpful to the Chinese becoming part of a global system of Western-led order and were hopeful that eventually the Communist party would loose its control. 

Yes, but their assumption was wrong. They did not study Chinese people they are about 90% Hans who are unlike Western people. Recently, there was a third Belt and Road forum, and African countries were taken on board. China has turned towards Africa sensing how much potential Africa has. Chinese President announced $105 billion for  smaller projects. Digitization, soft connectivity in Africa for the next five years are next targets. So the Chinese are grabbing the opportunity laid in Africa and that’s where the West can not contain them. 

DR. Moeed Pirzada: Has India not understood the Chinese’s threat?

I think what the Indian government is mishandling is that it has misread that it can fight on both fronts with Pakistan and India. But in reality, even America is finding difficulty in containing China in the South China sea, Americans are using integrated deterrence, they are expanding their military basis in Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea. 

DR. Moeed Pirzada: In the mid-90s, America warned the West about Latin America that it is an American hub and do not interfere here, but we see, now, China is struggling to withhold its position even in the region, like the issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea. How do you see it?

China has become a great power and is successfully selling Road and Belt initiatives. Global South is with China. Time has changed now, America was a superpower at one point in time and it had military, economic, industrial, and all other powers, but now manufacturing power lies in China. Whether is it shipbuilding, maritime, or Coast Guards, China is leading.  

DR. Moeed Pirzada: Is the US successful in Containing China?

No, BRICKS is emerging, a new development bank is in now, and Dollar is losing ground. By 2030, there will be a Global North and a Global South. For India, the Modi Government wants to go with America, I say geography and history are most important. So better stick with Global South.

DR. Moeed Pirzada: Kissinger wrote that incursions by China are signals for India that you should work with China and the West. What’s your take on this? 

No that’s not just signaling, that can be relevant in Taiwan, but China and India are middle powers and China wants to make sure by these acts that what India is doing is not right.

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DR. Moeed Pirzada: Was Balakot a strategic reset?

It was not a reset nor Western powers were involved. India said they were hitting terrorists and not military targets. The next day Pakistan did operation Swift Retort , and they also said they do not want it to escalate. Pakistan matched the operational level. 

DR. Moeed Pirzada: You wrote that the Pakistan army is more operational than India, how do you see that? 

Military deterrence and internal interference are two different things that we need to understand. I am talking here about its capability of deterrence. Two things made the Pakistan army the lead player in security and foreign policy: Ceasefire and subsequent line of control in Kashmir , and the 1998 nuclear tests. There is an over-match now from the Pakistan military over India. Pakistan has regular supplies, Chinese’s support, domain awareness, situation awareness, electronic warfare, and many more things. I think fall of Dhaka was not defendable  as Karagal was a missed adventure; the other factor which makes Pakistan army more operational was the bulk of assists given to India at time of partition, Pakistan felt threatened and weak at that time, so it also contributed to their growth.

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DR. Moeed Pirzada: You relied in the past on Pakistan’s relationship with China rather  Pakistan is moving in the Western orbit, especially since the Bajwa tenure, What’s your take on this?

CPEC was a great opportunity for Pakistan but it has not been fully utilized and China also does  realize that. And its failure lies in political instability in Pakistan. There is BRICKS and China has moved forward Pakistani application to join BRICKS and is helping it on every front. Yes, if you want a loan from the IMF you have to have good relations with the West and I am not denying that. But China holds significant importance for Pakistan and it can not be undermined. 

DR. Moeed Pirzada: Where is Modi’s strategy heading? 

The issue is about ideologies in India. The upcoming elections in India are Between two ideological sides and people will decide where they stand. Modi’s BJP is a right-wing side and it is not looking after Pakistan and China for relations.