The whole world’s talking about the “New Quad” of the US-Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan, which I also earlier coined as the Continental Quad or C-Quad in my latest analysis for CGTN. It contrasts with the “Old Quad” of the US-Australia-India-Japan that I also called the Maritime Quad or M-Quad in the aforementioned article.
The primary difference between the two is that the C-Quad aims for geo-economically driven “competitive connectivity” (another reference to the letter “c”) in Eurasia through PAKAFUZ while the M-Quad has malign (another letter “m” reference) intentions to “contain” China through zero-sum geopolitical means.
C-Quad is nothing short of a geostrategic masterstroke for Pakistan since Islamabad hopes to leverage this platform in pursuit of the five interconnected goals:
Attract more American investment
The Pakistani economy is slowly but surely recovering from the global economic crisis catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic but it must urgently diversify its partners in order to tap its full potential. Attracting American investment by incentivizing US businesses to set up their regional headquarters in Pakistan can provide much-needed jobs for the country’s growing population.
It can also avoid the scenario of disproportionate economic dependence on China in the future by encouraging those two superpowers to engage in a “friendly competition” over connectivity and markets that can only work out to Pakistan’s benefit.
Read more: Is Pakistan open to American business?
Counter India’s politicization of the FATF
The more that American businesses become stakeholders in the success of the Pakistani economy, the more likely it is that Washington will counter India’s politicization of the FATF in order to eventually lift the unreasonable restrictions presently imposed upon it and thus facilitate the ease of doing business there.
There’s little doubt that the US will continue playing its double game with Pakistan, but this time its business interests will also suffer if it continues to do so through such economic-financial means if more American businesses invest in Pakistan as their base of operations for reaching the Central Asian Republics (CARs).
After Indian External Minister's statement confirming India's negative role in keeping Pakistan in FATF's grey-list went live, Hammad Azhar took to Twitter stating that Pakistan was right about India. India actively undermines the spirit of FATF.https://t.co/VOWVbwBsv3
— Global Village Space (@GVS_News) July 19, 2021
Counter India’s Hybrid war on CPEC
Along the same lines, the US will be less likely to encourage or at the very least turn a blind eye to India’s Hybrid War on CPEC if American business could also be adversely affected by such clandestine operations.
Washington might still never officially approve of CPEC for simple strategic reasons since BRI’s flagship project provides Beijing with direct access to the Indian Ocean Region, but it might ultimately learn to live with it and make the best of Pakistan’s Chinese-constructed infrastructure in order to facilitate its economic access to the CARs.
As the US’ strategic economic stakes in Pakistan grow, it’ll be less likely to support India’s subversive actions there.
Restore balance to the US’ South Asian strategy
It’s of premier importance for Pakistan to positively influence the US to restore balance to its South Asian strategy after America recently pivoted towards India at its neighbor’s expense. The most pragmatic way to achieve this is through geo-economics, which in the case of the C-Quad capitalizes on the failure of the US and India to reach a trade deal despite years of negotiations.
The US has decades’ worth of experience dealing with Pakistan for better or for worse and might finally realize that it’s thus a lot easier to do business with Islamabad than New Delhi, which can set into motion the gradual recalibration of its regional strategy.
Balance between great powers in the New Cold War
Finally, the ultimate objective that Pakistan hopes to achieve is to balance the world’s top Great Powers in the New Cold War. Its modus operandi has been to retain its excellent comprehensive relations with China (especially through CPEC); cultivate newfound economic, energy, military, and political ties with Russia (initially driven by shared security interests stemming from Afghanistan but now predicated on PAKAFUZ); and influence the US through geo-economics to recalibrate its regional strategy (C-Quad).
Tangible success in this respect will vastly improve Pakistan’s strategic leverage vis-a-vis India and thus restore stability to South Asia.
Does Pakistan hope to inspire the US with the new Quad?
The five interconnected goals that Pakistan aspires to fulfill through the C-Quad are unique in the sense that they don’t adversely impact any third party’s legitimate interests. Neither China nor Russia have anything to fear from this platform.
After all, the Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui said that the US still has a responsibility to Afghanistan, which echoed Russian Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov’s earlier remarks to that effect.
The geo-economically driven competitive connectivity that Pakistan hopes to inspire the US to participate in through the C-Quad’s role in PAKAFUZ is therefore in alignment with Chinese and Russian interests when it comes to America’s envisioned role in economically-financially rebuilding Afghanistan through that project. India has nothing to fear either so long as it abandons its zero-sum policies.
Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, radio host, and regular contributor to several online outlets. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.