Latest posts by Paul Antonopoulos (see all)
- KASHMIR AND NORTHERN EPIRUS: A COMPARATIVE LOOK - September 16, 2019
- AFGHANISTAN IN FOCUS – PART THREE: OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM AND ‘THE THIRD GREAT GAME’ - September 6, 2019
- AFGHANISTAN IN FOCUS – PART TWO: DEFEATING PROGRESSIVENESS AND OPENING THE PATH FOR THE TALIBAN - August 21, 2019
Well, what a whirlwind of unexpected events that has unfolded and shocked the world as for a very short while the question loomed whether nuclear Pakistan and India would go to war with each other after the latter withdrew Article 370 regarding Kashmir on August 5. Pakistan plays a major role in the emergence of the Multipolar World that sees the United States no longer being the sole Great Power in the world because of the rise of Russia and China. Because Pakistan plays a major role in this new world order, it has strengthened its relations with Moscow and Beijing for economic benefit. Although India enjoys great relations with Moscow, it has icy and hostile relations with its Chinese neighbours.
Russia and China significantly cooperated to dismantle the US-dominated unipolar world order that it controlled. It has seen the pair not only ambitiously reassert its presence in its traditional zones of influence, but also beyond its historic reach, such as Africa and even into “America’s Backyard,” Latin America.
However, are cracks beginning to emerge in this alliance that has successfully defended countries under attack from U.S. military and/or economic aggression such as Syria, Venezuela and Iran, and also cooperated to ensure their economic growth and development? With India’s revocation of Article 370, there were curious and unexpected responses from Moscow and Beijing to the incident considering their alliance.
Russia said “Moscow expects that India and Pakistan will not allow aggravation of the situation in the region due to the change by Delhi in the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We proceed from fact that the changes associated with the change in the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and its division into two union territories are carried out within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of India. We hope that the parties involved will not allow a new aggravation of the situation in the region as a result of the decisions.”
Effectively Moscow defended the legality of the move within India’s constitution. However, even the constitutionality of the move is in question, with Priyanka Gandhi stating the move was “totally unconstitutional and against the principles of democracy.”
Beijing did not hesitate to defend Pakistan’s position over Kashmir with Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying India’s action were “unacceptable” and lacked legal standing. She then also asked India to strictly abide by agreements reached between the two countries to avoid any complications at borders.
The ambitious Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims at creating a China-centric global transportation and economic network has meant that the Great Power identified Pakistan as a key geostrategic state and established the impressive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project that in the words of Andrew Korybko: “seeks to connect East Asia with South Asia by means of a non-Malacca mainland trade passage. Upon full completion, CPEC will be a geopolitical game-changer for the simple reason that it will provide China with an alternative to the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca, thereby making it impossible for the troublesome US Navy to control the People’s Republic’s trade routes via maritime manipulations in these two aforementioned chokepoints.”
With India being the only South Asian country to refuse to join the BRI project, Pakistan has welcomed the project and its $55+ billion worth of investments with open arms to the benefit of the country’s infrastructural and energy sectors. Because of this significant infrastructural developmental project that includes the construction of railways, highways and ports, Beijing and Islamabad have become close friends in recent years, demonstrating that Pakistan has realised the Age of Multipolarity has arrived. This is a far cry from the years of the Cold War where Pakistan was a pivot for US imperialistic aggression against the Russian-led Soviet Union.
Although Moscow-Islamabad relations have blossomed and increased in recent years, it pales in comparison to the close and historic ties Russia has had with India since 1949, with Jawaharlal Nehru even praising Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1953. In the contemporary, India continues to buy billions upon billions of dollars’ worth of Russian weapons.
With it now understood why China backs Pakistan and Russia with India, it represents one of the first cracks in the Moscow-Beijing partnership, especially in a key hot and geostrategic spot. Although this is highly unlikely to create any rifts in the relationship, it does demonstrate that Beijing and Moscow are capable of standing on opposing sides of an issue, something that many followers of the Multipolar world had previously thought inconceivable. Rather, this disagreement over Kashmir demonstrates the maturity of Beijing-Moscow relations and that they are capable of continuing close relations in other fields and sectors while disagreeing in another. This is in stark contrast to Washington who pressurise their supposed allies, including Pakistan, to comply to any demands they make even if it is against their allies own interests.
This is what it means to live in a Multipolar world – states being able to cooperate and remain cordial despite disagreements. However, can this ever be achieved between Pakistan and India so long as the Kashmir issue remains in question? It remains to be seen.