Op-ed: Can a new regional strategic bloc counter US influence in South Asia?

"The South Asian states are bound to start a joint strategic dialogue to safeguard and secure South Asian security," writes Abdul Shakoor.

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The US-China hostility has put South Asia’s security, peace, and stability at stake. China-India confrontation backed by the US is endangering the regional balance of power. If the current situation prolongs, South Asia will be pushed to a nuclear flashpoint. The US-Indian ties have pulled Pak-India bilateral dialogues to the worst margin. The US’ South Asian policy is and has always been Indian centric.

The US-China economic, psychological, and trade war is being fought on Asian grounds. The US is hankering after some regional giant to cope with Chinese influence in South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The US might choose Pakistan for this purpose as it has done against the Soviet Union but now the situation is the opposite.

China, Pakistan, Russia, and Iran must join hands to deter the US influence in the region, which is and has always been Indian centric.

India pulling strings of terrorism for self-interests

Pak-China all-weather friendship has compelled the US to favor India. India itself has been reluctant to align with the US, but now it is Indian compulsion to align itself with the US as it is left with no alternative after losing Russian support. There is a lower possibility of India-China cooperation as Pakistan is a die heart friend of China. The new US administration must put immediate heed to South Asian security before the evil eye blinks.  All major South Asian regional powers are trying for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan except India. India is backing terrorist activities in Afghanistan to pull on the US to stay in the region for her vested interests.

The Indian Army brass and political high ups are threatening Pakistan to attack Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. If the US is not taking a serious interest in South Asian stability, its interests and regional security both will be jeopardized. The US is playing a double game with the South Asian states, on one hand, it is proclaiming its role as mediator and on the other hand, it is evidently backing and equipping India with the latest defense technology.

Read more: Will stabilising Afghanistan promise regional influence to both Russia and China?

Alliance with US is India’s last resort

The US-India strategic partnership has created anxiety in the South Asian states. The smaller regional states, which have always been victimized by the Hindu mindset, are worried about their sovereignty or even existence. The CPEC is indigestible both for the US and India. Emerging Pakistan and strengthening China are indicators of the Indian dream of regional supremacy. After the Russian tap, the US is the last resort of Indian dreams of gaining a regional monopoly.

India has redesigned its terror activities and it has also appointed a special force to hinder CPEC. The US seems blindfolded against Indian inhuman and callous atrocities in occupied Kashmir. Where there are the US’ interests, there seem to be no human rights violations, in fact, the Super Power is using the slogan of Human Rights and Right to self-determination for her own interests rather than on humanitarian grounds. The US’ parental treatment to India will compel Pakistan to fully align with China and Russia.

The new US administration must put immediate heed to South Asian security before the evil eye blinks. 

Double game

Pakistan has helped the US out in the Afghan peace process oblivious to the reality of the US backing out from its three promises to Pakistan for being an ally against the war on terror. Although the new US administration has issued some critical statements regarding Indian violation of human rights in occupied Kashmir yet there is a dire need for practical jobs rather than statements. It seems that the US-India ties will continue even after Trump.

The US neither lets Pakistan and India plunge into war nor settles their long-standing core nuclear flashpoint Kashmir. The US thinks, if the bone of contention between India and Pakistan is resolved, there will be no room for the US in the region as China-US rivalry and the US-Russia hostility. The US is also not on good terms with Iran as well. So the Kashmir issue is the sole bait for the US in the South Asian region.

Pakistan through the Indian lens

The US-China confrontation and US-India strategic ties will build US pressure on Pakistan in nuclear development programs especially in regard to sea-based nuclear deterrence on the Indian demand for cooperation with the US. This will also favor the US interests in the Indian Pacific Ocean regardless of who holds office in Islamabad. The US will centralize these issues after her decamping Afghanistan. Security of Pakistani nuclear assets was also one of the three promises of the US for allying in the war on terror.

The Non-proliferation policy is anticipated to be revised in the coming years. The South Asian states are bound to start a joint strategic dialogue to safeguard and secure South Asian security. All the stakeholders of South Asia will equally suffer from the situation created after the US-Indian strategic ties. The US had been watching Pakistan from the Afghan eyes and after its withdrawal from Afghanistan; the US will be looking through Indian lens.

Read more: Great power rivalry: Should Iran choose China, Pakistan over India, US?

The regional factors are left with no alternative to build a joint strategic block in South Asia for their common interests. Pakistan is the major player in the arena as it can resolve the US-China and the US-Iran tensions as being closely connected to these two the US rivals economically, geostrategically, and ethnoculturally.

China, Pakistan, Russia, and Iran must join hands to deter the US influence in the region, which is and has always been Indian centric. The US interests in the Indian Pacific Ocean also have longer-term goals to strengthen its hold in the Middle East and to cope with Iranian phenomena. The Russians cannot set back in this regard though the former USSR does not have any impending strategic danger, yet it will get severe jolts to its trade.

The author is an English professor and a freelance columnist. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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