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The Case for Bringing Pakistan into US Indo-Pacific Strategy – The Diplomat

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has openly spoken on four different occasions in the past month. where did it go That he is preparing China for war. In light of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric, the importance of Washington’s Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) is clearer than ever. Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and India are key actors in IPS and can form a strong alliance that “maintaining stability and rejecting the coercive exercise of powerIn the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Nevertheless, the IPS has a significant weak point: the alliance’s infrastructure of strategy is heavily skewed towards the Pacific. The main focus of IPS centers around a potential Taiwan contingency in the South China Sea and fails to address Beijing’s strategic advances in South Asia.

The current IPS mainly depends on India as a major partner of the Indian Ocean. India’s inclusion is certainly a positive, but the lack of any additional IPS members in its vicinity is a significant weakness. Chinese military planners have realized this shortcoming and are increasingly challenging Indian hegemony in the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Middle East. Laccadive Sea,

To mitigate China’s position, US policy makers would be wise to reconsider the inclusion of Pakistan in the IPS. Including Pakistan not only strengthens the overall US position but also limits Beijing’s expansion. While engaging Pakistan would be an extremely difficult task in the face of Indian opposition, the alternative scenario is much worse.

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Recent Chinese success in brokering a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, its rapidly growing military presence in Pakistan and interoperability with Pakistani forces, expand ground station Successful combats in Sri Lanka, and naval cooperation with both Bangladesh and Myanmar highlight areas of weakness. We outreach Bangladesh’s push to reduce Chinese influence and dynamism in the Bay of Bengal indicates that the Biden administration is not taking Beijing’s activities in the region lightly, but existing measures are not sufficient in light of Chinese determination.

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In the Indian Ocean, the United States primarily relies on its partnership with the Indian Navy to support the objectives of its IPS. While significant improvements have been made in Indo-US relations, New Delhi continues to adhere to vestiges of its old non-alignment policy, now rebranded as “strategic autonomy”. New Delhi’s reluctance to fully embrace Washington, coupled with the Indian military’s reliance on Russian military platforms, give Washington policymakers pause. Although the trust deficit is expected to narrow over time, significant work is still needed.

With regard to capabilities, the Indian Navy serves as a significant naval force capable of acting as a deterrent to subversive Chinese actions in its immediate vicinity. Yet the Indian Navy and its hardware continue to outflank Beijing’s marines capabilities In the event of a heated struggle.

In addition to the mismatch in naval capabilities, Beijing has also strategically supplied subsidized naval vessels and provided maritime infrastructure expertise to build up the nascent naval capabilities of both. Bangladesh and Myanmar. most recently Distribution a Russian-built submarine for the Tatmadaw, as well as Construction The deep-water port at Kyaukphu describes significant Chinese efforts to expand its influence in New Delhi’s backyard. last months Inauguration The delivery of BNS Sheikh Hasina, as well as two Chinese-made submarines south of Dhaka, challenges India’s influence in Dhaka. Transfer of naval equipment and training of Bengali and Myanmar navies also gives Beijing the advantage of stationing Chinese navies in the Bay of Bengal.

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Rumors Bangladesh’s IPS are important to embrace but have been undermined recently political rhetoric Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh’s inclusion in the IPS offers minor benefits to the alliance network but is unlikely to change the country’s long-standing tradition of maintaining non-alignment and autonomy. Finally, Bangladesh’s limited naval capability is unlikely to change the underlying power imbalance between Chinese and Indian naval capabilities.

Much has been written on Chinese activities in Sri Lanka, to the south of India. New Delhi continues to enjoy significant influence in Colombo but is increasingly challenged by China. The effect of Chinese diplomatic efforts and rumors of led by china A military facility on the Cocoa Islands threatens Sri Lanka as well as India’s influence in the surrounding maritime zone.

Chinese efforts are also significant in the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean. recently reports It was highlighted by the United States Institute of Peace that Chinese platforms will make up about 50 percent of Pakistan’s major military platforms by 2030. In addition, the number of China-Pakistan joint military exercises has grown exponentially in both frequency and complexity. The report suggests that Beijing’s arms transfer strategically increases the degree of interoperability between the two militaries.

As the interoperability between the two forces continues to increase with the complexity and frequency of joint military exercises, so too does the risk of Pakistan allowing Beijing access to its naval and air facilities. The prospect of Chinese warships operating from Gwadar or Karachi is largely hypothetical, but the prospect of such an event threatens to fundamentally undermine New Delhi’s position and subsequently the IPS’s strength. A Chinese naval presence in both the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea would divide both New Delhi’s attention and resources.

To counter Chinese efforts, US policymakers should re-think Pakistan’s inclusion in the IPS. The entertainment over Pakistan’s inclusion in the IPS, while Islamabad is becoming increasingly dependent on Beijing for meeting its security and technological needs, certainly poses a security risk. It was not so long ago that Washington’s interests in Afghanistan were undermined by Pakistani generals. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s involvement in the IPS even at a minimal level would signal to Beijing that its “silver bulletIt is not as safe as one would like to believe.

Furthermore, if Washington successfully re-establishes military-to-military ties with Pakistan, it will not only prevent a major non-NATO ally from falling entirely into China’s orbit, but also signal to an indifferent India. Washington is willing to use a wider array. tools and alliances to meet its security concerns and will not be held to a double standard as it continues to engage with Russia.

While recent developments in China-Pakistan relations are likely to discourage policymakers in Washington from pursuing Pakistan in the IPS, the risk of allowing Pakistan to fall completely into Beijing’s orbit is too high. It is far better to have some influence as opposed to none. Opponents of Pakistan’s inclusion in the IPS argue that Islamabad is unlikely to support the IPS as it would harm its relations with Beijing. While Pakistan will be forced to walk a delicate balance if it joins the IPS framework, the generals in Rawalpindi will relish the opportunity to hedge between the United States and China.

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It should be understood that Pakistan’s dependence on China is not a relationship that is preferred over one with the United States, but one born of necessity. While relations with Beijing have been useful to Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s political and security establishment has been consistently more comfortable with the West. After all, the official language of Pakistan is English. But, due to its international isolation, economic crisis and fallout with Washington, Pakistan has been forced to rely expensive financial aid and inferior military hardware made in China.

Despite Beijing coming to its aid, the heart of the Pakistani political and military establishment rests in Washington. Islamabad and Rawalpindi have realized they had a love affair with Chinese investment myopic and has gradually moved back towards the middle, attempting to reconnect with the west.

In the coming decade, the United States will see an increasing level of competition in the Indian Ocean. Washington’s increasingly close ties with New Delhi have further reinforced Beijing’s perception that the United States’ IPS is merely an attempt to contain China. Moreover, Pakistan’s exclusion from the IPS and minimal cooperation with Washington has only pushed it closer to its northeastern neighbor. Washington policy makers would be wise to reengage Pakistan through the IPS.

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There will undoubtedly be significant Indian opposition to such a development. New Delhi will not easily stomach to engage Pakistan. Still, the idea of ​​Chinese warships operating from Karachi or Gwadar should give Pakistan enough incentive to prioritize engaging.