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Sunday, May 28, 2023

What inevitable regional developments are in the offing? (Part 2)

"The world is in need of a new international order based on equity, justice and fair play. USA is a descending power and China an ascending power. Space for the war mongers and spoilers is shrinking and for peacemakers expanding."

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Indo-China border scuffle adding to the regional developments 

In reaction to Indian military provocations and fast track construction of Chushal-Darbuk-DBO/Siachin supply route, China lost its traditional cool leading to some interesting regional developments. The intruding Indian soldiers in Galwan River Valley were brutally thrashed by PLA soldiers with batons, sticks and fists. 0ver 25 Indian soldiers including a Col were mauled to death, dozens badly injured and over 50 captured in three scuffles in May/June 2020. The feat which deflated the heat of Indian jingoism and chastened BJP leaders was achieved without firing a bullet.

The whole Galwan Valley is now under the control of PLA and LAC redrawn. It has forestalled India’s intentions to establish Indo-US-Israel military bases in Ladakh, make Ladakh a permanent military station, threaten Aksai Chin, scuttle CPEC, destroy Bhasha dam, and annex GB.

China-Pakistan are now in a sound position to undertake joint military operation in Ladakh whenever the need arose. Arunachal Pradesh has become more vulnerable and so is the Siliguri chicken neck. Ladakh’s neutralization has rendered Indian 3 Corps presence at Leh and Siachin untenable. It will also have a domino effect on Indian 9 lacs forces in J&K which are finding themselves cornered by China, Pakistan and Kashmiris.

Pakistan, India and the Kashmiris are the three stake holders in Kashmir dispute, but now China has become the 4th stake holder. This equation has loaded the dice against India. Indo-US-Israel nexus which is poised against CPEC has bonded Pakistan and China as iron brothers. Both can count upon each other whenever security interests of any country are threatened. India’s power projection was based on fanciful imaginations, daydreaming and dramatized by Indian media and Bollywood.

Read More: New world order: Why South Asia will lead ‘Great Game’

Remaining out of combat zone after 1971, Indian armed forces have become soft and languid. Indian soldiers quench their macho thirst by killing hapless unarmed civilians in India, in occupied Kashmir and along the LoC. Sikhs are their best fighters but of late many have put up resignations in order to join Khalistan movement.

Indians are getting restless over muteness and inaction of Modi regime which had won elections in 2014 and 2019 on account of Modi roaring like a lion and making them rapturous. They are thumbing their noses at Indian media which at the slightest provocation go berserk and create war hysteria. Indians are also questioning their military leadership as to what happened to their tall claims that they can conveniently take on both China and Pakistan. Next six months are crucial for India and in case corona virus spins out of control and economy dips further, domestic situation in India would get highly explosive.

USA’s dilemma

USA which mothers India and Israel and uses the duo to serve its ends in South Asia, Afghanistan and Middle East is caught up in a logjam of its own making. Its whole-hearted support to the anti-peace regimes and going an extra mile to cover-up their crimes against humanity has lowered its prestige in the world. It is badly stuck up in Afghanistan, in Persian Gulf, in Syria, in Yemen and in Ukraine.

Its economy, which was already off-colour due to 19-year war on terror and support to proxies, has been further depleted by trade war with China, tussle with Russia, and the corona pandemic which has severely impacted the global economy.

Trump himself is too deeply engrossed in battling internal and external challenges. His major focus is on November elections and has no time to get involved in China-India tiff in the Himalayas.

Trump’s policy of intimidation through sanctions, embargo and isolation of Iran has backfired and has impelled Iran to veer towards China.

$ 400 billion Sino-Iran deal has further deepened US-China rivalry. Whosoever wins the next presidential race, (Trump or Joe Biden), will have to take-up emerging China-Iran equation on priority.

Read More: Turkey makes move to benefit from USA – China trade war

Sino-Iran strategic agreement

Iran had resisted the offer of $400 billion made by President Xi Jinping in 2016 as part of his BRI project and preferred to remain within the loop of Russia, India and Afghanistan. It remained more involved in expanding its Shia arc in the Middle East.

Iran changed its heart when India stopped buying oil from Iran last year under the US pressure. The change was discernible when Iran supported the cause of Kashmiris, and didn’t utter a word over Indo-China skirmish in favor of India. Other reasons for the change are that India has become the most allied ally of US, while both Iran and China are hostile to USA. Iran was uncomfortable with ever growing India’s partnership with its arch rivals USA and Israel, and with Saudi Arabia, UAE.

Cancelation of railway line project given to India by Iran to connect Chahbahar with Zahedan, and China-Iran $400 billion agreement in July 2020 by virtue of which China will invest $250 for energy projects, and $150 for infrastructure in Iran, in return for China buying oil from Iran on 20% discount spread over 25 years in yuan are clear-cut indications that over a period of time Iran will rely more on emerging super power than on India.

While Iran would either complete the Chahbahar-Zahedan-Zaranj railway project by March 2022 at its own, or with China’s assistance, possibility of Iran handing over technical control of Chahbahar to China cannot be ruled out. Iran is under duress due to US, UN, EU sanctions and Covid-19 pandemic. $400 billion deal will go a long way in easing its economic woes and diplomatic isolation. Trade in yuan will give impetus to de-dollarization.

Iran doesn’t gain anything by pitching Chahbahar against Gwadar, and gains a lot through collaboration. Lessening of the Indian influence will impel Iran to gravitate towards China and it might decide to join CPEC to draw much-needed economic benefits.

Envisaged China-Iran joint venture of constructing a new port at Jask-e-Bandar, east of strategic Suez Canal will have adverse implications for the imperialist agenda of Indo-US-Israel nexus in the Middle East wanting to control all the seven key choke points and sea lanes. China’s naval presence at Gwadar, Djibouti and in future in Jask, would cause a setback to Indo-US plans to completely dominate Indian Ocean.

Evolving global/regional developments

Moscow has now reconciled with Pakistan owing to changed geopolitical realities. China-USA are now rivals, while China-Russia are strategic partners and India is strategic partner of USA. Russia is eager to befriend Pakistan because of China-Pakistan closeness, and its age-old quest for warm waters which can be fulfilled by CPEC in the form of RPEC. However, Putin is so far a bit reluctant due to Pakistan’s continued dependence upon USA.

These fast moving regional developments have made NSTC project redundant and seem to have died in the crib. CPEC being the flagship project of BRI, acts as a magnet and will surely attract Russia, Afghanistan (CAPEC) and landlocked Central Asian States towards it.

Regionally, China has befriended all the regional countries including GCC States and Israel and has promoted the concept of peace, friendship and economic returns through equitable partnership. China is the only country whose economy is growing since the onset of coronavirus. Its export size is 75% of world trade and bulk of it would be passing through CPEC, which will greatly benefit Pakistan.

India is the lone war monger harboring grandeur ambitions and is in conflict with all seven South Asian States and China. Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim have begun to flex their muscles for the first time. Surprisingly, Bangladesh has expressed desire to normalize relations with Pakistan.

Sino-Iran strategic agreement when seen in context with US-China trade/pandemic war, US-Iran stand-off in Persian Gulf, Indo-China face-off in Himalayas, India’s dangerous designs against Pakistan will have far reaching ramifications for the overall geo-strategic environment that are presently in a flux, and might lead to new alignments in Asia. The fast evolving global and regional developments have almost unhinged India’s encirclement plan and today it finds itself encircled and isolated.

Modi is upset that so far USA has not come to his rescue and Russia has decided to watch the conflict from a distance. Whatever additional weaponry he may acquire, wouldn’t match China’s military power, which is far superior. More so, it is the morale and will to fight which matters and not the tangible factors. Indian military is deficient of these vital ingredients.

Read More: USA wants to destabilise China internally

Happy tidings for Pakistan

Since 2001, Pakistan was encircled and choked under a calculated scheme and was left with no breathing space due to war on terror, hostility of India, Afghanistan and non-cooperation of Iran. Neutralization of Afghan and Iran fronts would give a deathblow to Indian sponsored terrorism in Baluchistan and KP and would not only let Pakistan breathe freely after the impending crack-up of India’s strategic encirclement plan, but would also diminish threats to security of CPEC.

Guidelines for Pakistan

Unfortunately, Pakistan leadership has still not come out of the obsession of befriending India, which has repeatedly threatened to splinter Pakistan. India has still not reconciled with the existence of Pakistan and it keeps scheming to undo Pakistan, which it sees as the only stumbling block in its way to become unchallenged super power of South Asia and a global power.

We naively think that prosperity of Pakistan hinges upon friendship with India and promotion of trade and business between the two countries. This myopic fixation must end and we should learn to look elsewhere to make the country prosperous.

Pakistan should further galvanize its efforts for early political settlement in Afghanistan, and facilitate in growth of understanding between Iran and China. Correspondingly, China can help in mitigating the irritants between Iran and Pakistan.

With China’s entry, Chahbahar-Gwadar would complement as sister ports instead of rivalling each other to draw mutual benefits. Pakistan must put in concerted efforts to complete the phase-2 projects of CPEC in next three years since it has become its economic life line.

Idea of RPEC should be turned into a reality.

Pakistan is enmeshed in host of political, economic and Covid-19 problems. With external geopolitical environments showing signs of improvement, the government must redouble its efforts to put its house in order by making visible improvements in governance, financial management, moral rearmament and above all alleviating the socio-economic issues of the poor.

To conclude

In conclusion one can say that Indo-US- Israeli nexus supported by UK in their bid to monopolize the world have disturbed the peace of the world and made it unsafe and insecure. The trio is pushing the world towards 3rd world war. The world is in need of a new international order based on equity, justice and fair play. USA is a descending power and China an ascending power. Space for the war mongers and spoilers is shrinking and for peacemakers expanding. The economic pivot has shifted from the west to the east and the 21st century will be Asia’s century.

Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, father of 3rd generation officer Maj Faheem Asif Shaheed, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC and Veterans Think Tank PESS, Member Council Tehreek Jawanan Pakistan. asifharoonraja@gmail.com; The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space