Expect more attacks to test China and Pakistan relationship
All embassies are an extension of their countries and have a special sovereign status. The terrorist attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi is an attack on Chinese institutions and on Pakistan as the host.
Never has a Chinese embassy been targeted like this anywhere else in the world. This is a new type of escalation in which planners and financiers of such acts have attacked the joint resolve of China and Pakistan. It was a cowardly act, however, which cannot challenge or change the deep-rooted economic, cultural and defense ties that two countries have nurtured over the last 50 years.
And by no means is it an isolated affair. Pakistan is in the process of addressing the structural issues it faces on several fronts: economic, internal affairs, citizen rights and obligations and its policy on foreign relationships. On the other hand, the world is moving to find new power centres, which are far from the 200-year-old Western-based epicentres. This dual tectonic move regarding Pakistan’s own internal and external alignment as well as a global shift to the East has brought this region into sharp focus.
Pakistan—due to geography and its history of friendship with China—has become a country where an undeclared cold war of world powers is being played out. The Americans especially want to have a bigger say in the region; this policy is carried out by creating an environment which destabilises Pakistan. This is seemingly their first option, to create obstacles for BRI and CPEC. The aim is to delay the rise of China.
Targeted twin focused terror attacks against China and Pakistan’s joint interests will continue. Both nations must be super vigilant and aligned to survive this new cold war. Policy-makers in America, India and in Afghanistan know that if Pakistan and the PTI administration continue for a year or so with the current policies, this will improve Pakistan internally and externally.
I am not, in any way, suggesting that we will become Singapore in the next few years but we will be showing signs of being a stronger nation. Externally, our alignment with Eastern and regional power bases will benefit us in the region. We will be a dependable player in South Asia. India, where it is now, is following Pakistan’s old and failed policy of aligning itself with the US. They are fully aware where it led Pakistan.
Indian policy-makers don’t, however, realise that Western powers can’t pick Pakistan and China and place them in the Arctic. India can’t choose its neighbours—and those neighbours are here to stay—unlike for the US, which is maintaining an unnatural presence based on military might and old cold war conspiratorial policies. A few years down the line, this will come to haunt India.
My analysis is that these attacks will increase in the next few years. They will test the unity of Pakistan and China. More importantly they will try to isolate Pakistan to put it under tremendous economic and security pressure. As a nation, to survive these pressures and thrive in the future we need to stand with each other and maintain our regional focus and strengthen relations with China. All institutions, civilian and defense, supporting each other in every sphere of life is the only option Pakistan has to overcome the challenges it will face as this new cold war plays out in its midst.
Aftab Siddiqui a London-based analyst on South Asia and can be reached at @SiddiquiAftab or Aftabarif@hotmail.com