America’s China moment

Islamabad is a key Beijing ally which has put the US on the wrong side of the divide

December 02, 2022

The Pentagon seems to have admitted some bitter realities on the Asian mosaic of realpolitik. Its candid admission that Beijing and Islamabad are strategic partners has no two opinions. In a detailed report ‘The China Military Power 2022’, the Department of Defence goes on to state that China relies on Pakistan for projecting its military and economic might. This might be an overrated observation but the fact is that the all-weather friendship of the two states is a cornerstone of their foreign policies. This is why Islamabad remains a key Beijing ally which has one way or the other put the US on the wrong side of the divide when it comes to perpetual strategic alignment.

Pakistan, nonetheless, is against camp politics. Though it is close to Beijing, and is a major recipient of economic and military aid, it has retained a strategic relationship with Washington too. This is because Pakistan sits at the crossroads of the region, and has been an allied-ally of the West. This does not come to infringe its independence and it has time and again played the role of arbitrator and an honest broker in regional and global upheavals. The connection of China and the US in the 1970s and the fine balancing act that it is performing with China, Russia and the US in the new era is a mark of Pakistan’s forward-looking approach.

The US report, however, makes some startling observations. It says China seeks to achieve its ‘national rejuvenation’ objective by 2049 with the help of international partners, including Pakistan. Perhaps the referral is to the strategic connectivity master plan of BRI, and its flagship project CPEC which is to the tune of $60 billion investment, literally changing the power paradigm in the region. Likewise, the Pentagon argues that China’s foreign policy seeks to build a ‘community of common destiny’ that will buoy its influence. The question is: will the US, aware of new strategic realignments, come up with a matching plan to woo the regional states or remain glued to its hegemonic aspirations?

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2022.

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