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Editorial on Lessons from Pakistan: how to win friends, and influence allies.
Syllabus—GS2: India & Its Neighbourhood Relations
- During the Cold War, Pakistan’s diplomacy was brilliant in pursuing a special relationship with China even as it signed onto the USA’s anti-communist alliances.
- In 1971, Pakistan became a bridge between the USA & China, by facilitating secret diplomacy between both.
- While, India found itself at odds with the US & China & turned to USSR to rebalance.
- Currently, as Sino-US confrontation unfolds & India’s ties with the US became stronger than ever, Pakistan has less space to negotiate.
- It can’t abandon its most reliable external partner “China” & also it did not want to be alienated from the USA.
Tracing the Ties:
- After the partition, both India & Pakistan have chosen different foreign policy paths due to various reasons.
- Nehru ignored the external threats & desire to be a world leader has declined India’s alliances with other nations.
- While Pakistan made alliances with other nations due to its insecurities with India.
- Pakistan signed bilateral security with the US & the SEATO & CENTO that is aimed to fight communism.
- It gained Pakistan goodwill, though its aim is not end communism but to balance India.
- China grasped & exploited Pakistan’s insecurities, at the Bandung Conference on Afro-Asian solidarity in 1955, Pakistan & China secretly started their partnership.
- Pakistan’s relations with the USA are highly volatile, it has greatly disappointed with the US in 1971’s Liberation of Bangladesh war.
- At the same time, Pakistan & China’s relation has been expanded steadily.
- Even after the 1971 war, Pakistan embraced the US again when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan in 1979.
- Pakistan helped the US helped to promote jihad against Russian occupation.
- In 2001, the US & Pakistan reconnected as Washington sought physical access & intelligence support for its intervention in Afghan following the 9/11 attacks.
- Even it supported the US but it managed to keep the Taliban alive.
- But, now the US wants Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to accept the peaceful transition to a new political order in Afghanistan.
- However, Pakistan worries that its leverage in Washington diminishes once the US withdraws from Afghanistan & shifts to Indo-Pacific.
- It is equally true that Pakistan did not want to get in between China & the US in the Indo-Pacific region & also wants to dent India’s growing importance in the region.
Issues with Pakistan’s Strategic Autonomy:
- Pakistan’s relative economic decline.
- Its expected aggregate GDP is $300 billion in 2021 that is 10 times smaller than India’s.
- Pakistan’s per capita GDP at $1260 is half of Bangladesh’s.
- Pakistan’s enduring obsessions with separating Kashmir from India & extending its political sway over Afghanistan.
- Both look elusive despite massive political investment.
Way Forward: –
In the 1950s, Pakistan’s prospects are much better than many Asian nations but by neglecting economic development, letting magnificent obsessions & privileging feudal & pre-modern ideologies, Pakistan has fallen rapidly behind its peers.
The main element that complicates Pakistan’s international politics is that turning Islam into a political instrument & empowering religious extremism today has severely constrained the Pakistani state’s capacity to build coherence & widen international options.
It is unwise for India to rule out Pakistan’s positive intervention. For now, though Pakistan offers a cautionary tale on the dangers of squandering a nation’s strategic advantages that it had inherited & the powerful partnerships that came it’s way. Illustrate.