A slightly braver new world order?

How India, the US, China, Russia and Pakistan align in the region

A slightly braver new world order?
Donald Trump’s vitriolic diatribe dutifully seconded by Nikki Randhawa Haley elicited a mixed response from Pakistan, simultaneously reflecting caution and aggression. Nevertheless, the palpable defiance in Pakistan’s stance ominously probably portends the beginning of the final parting of ways between the US and its most favoured non-Nato ally. It is clearly visible that the gap between Pakistani and American perceptions on almost all policy precepts is virtually unbridgeable.

It is needless to emphasise that the lopsided alliance between both countries emerged out of exigencies dictating policymakers to flock together to attain their diverse mutual goals. Both America and Pakistan had no choice but to huddle together in the 1950s as the US was containing communism and Pakistan India. Those were the heady days when President Iskander Mirza’s son, Humayun, got married to Dodie, the daughter of Horace Hildreth, the then US ambassador to Pakistan.

US assistance to Pakistan enabled it to bloody the Indian nose in 1965, an essentiality Pakistani policymakers pursued to bring about a polarity with its arch-enemy. But this action earned them the first of many American rebukes. Matters worsened when despite Pakistani help in paving the way for a thaw in US-China relations, the Americans behaved squeamishly during the breakup of Pakistan, ushering in the beginning of mutually suspicious camaraderie.
Both America and Pakistan had no choice but to huddle together in the 1950s as the US was containing communism and Pakistan India

The Afghan War in 1979 brought about a client-server arrangement between Pakistan and the US but the American withdrawal immediately after its goals were met, exacerbated Pakistan’s disillusion. It grew convinced of the fickle nature of US priorities and the tenuous realities of the Cold War. To the chagrin of both the US and Pakistan, they had to join again together after 9/11, but this time round the mutual susceptibilities of their relationship ruled the roost. It has been close to two decades that both partners have not been able to restructure their relationship and build trust, revealing the lack of intent on both sides.

In the cruel anarchic international structure there are no guarantees of stability, a reality dawning on a reluctant superpower, the US. Just a quarter of a century later, its unipolar hegemony is being challenged by regional forces, particularly Russia and China. Russia was blown to bits by America, losing its coveted super-power status. But a lean, determined Russia soon gained enough strength to partner with China in the SCO to stand up to its erstwhile tormentor. Neither Russia nor China follow the Greco-Roman orientation of Pax-Americana and have carved a separate niche for themselves. The Americans are secretly aghast that the world evolves independently and, mostly, contrary, to its perceptions. The Americans resent the changing world and consider any deviation from their lofty principles an act of sacrilege.

The bitter reality of associating with America compelled Pakistani policymakers to go after regional alliances and they were fortunate to have China come to their rescue. Although poles apart, both China and Pakistan somehow coexist fraternally. China’s rapid economic growth and Confucian foreign policy of remaining friends with everyone has paid off as is evident with the SCO, an alliance enveloping erstwhile enemies, Russia and India. Chinese insisted on the inclusion of Pakistan in the SCO, creating an intricate web of strategic and economic interests having the potential to challenge US unipolarity. The pull of Sino-Russian cooperation compelled arch-conservative Saudi Arabia to parley with the Russians, ending almost a century-old hold of Western dominance.

In addition, Pakistan’s aversion to western secularly pluralistic orientation compels it to pursue independent domestic and foreign policies. In this respect Pakistan draws its inspiration from China and Russia who run competent political and social dispensations according to their own priorities. The deep state in Pakistan is as penetratingly effective as it is in Russia and China and carries an equal clout. The deep state has covered its flanks by gradually fanning anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and making it a no-go area for western influence.
The deep state has covered its flanks by gradually fanning anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and making it a no-go area for western influence

During the last few years, Pakistan has successfully stood up to America not only by refusing direct transport access but also compromising on vital intelligence cooperation by blowing the cover of the CIA chief in Pakistan, making beat a hasty retreat. Moreover as a nuclear power, Pakistan justifiably demands to be accorded commensurate respect and hates being treated as a pariah state. It has made it abundantly clear that it strongly values its nuclear assets and is consistently wary of US designs to curb or harm them.

China and Pakistan are now configuring joint advantages in the region on their own. China is also supporting Pakistan by becoming a stakeholder in the Afghan imbroglio and participating in peace talks. It has openly sided with Pakistan whenever the west has ventured to censure Pakistan internationally. China’s insistence on including Pakistan in the SCO speaks volumes about it projecting Pakistan as its worthy partner in the region.

Consequently, India has taken a U-turn and joined the US to block regional cooperation. The US-India nexus aimed at encircling China and Pakistan is evidenced by its actions from those in the South China Sea and South Asia. On the other hand, Nato’s encirclement of Russia highlights American attempts to frustrate multipolarity. China and Pakistan have started to tread this path already in their region. As an all-weather friend China has embarked on fixing the damage Pakistan suffered during its association with the West through economic assistance.