The Bubbling Cauldron of Asian Geo-Politics


If given a thought, it’s fascinating to observe how the dealings, notions, associations, and emotions of individuals are identified with that of their state. But what makes the state adopt a particular line of action? The answer lies in “geopolitics”, and obviously, the accompanying national interests. Whether the latter affects the former is debatable, but one thing is certain – It takes the reshuffling of the entire system of international interactions to bring a change in the geostrategic arena, translating in a revamped economic, political, social and national policy.

A world with a conclusive world order is stable and thus mostly predictable. But can we term today’s world as one? Developments doubt so. The canvas of inter-state affairs that we have before us in contemporary times is painted with strokes of unpredictability, ambiguity and above all curiosity. With no one knowing where the actual state of affairs is going, a hint of confusion gets added to the historically stony-faced international relations.

The systemic milieu that envelopes us today is emerging as the pre-requisite for a geopolitical shift.

With Pakistan escaping the clutches of United States and adopting somewhat a harder stance on the Afghan issue, it’s not befitting to foretell that the legacy of many decades of U.S. dependence and modern slavery may be breathing, finally, its last. The marriage of convenience between Pakistan and America long lost its spark, with distrust filling the front rows. The rescue of the Canadian-American couple by Pakistan Army may seem, by many, as a chance to bridge the gap, but the attitude adopted by the White House since Trump’s coming to power dim the likes of a breakthrough. Though Pakistan still remains a prisoner to the IMF; with each individual owing more than twelve-hundred dollars to the organization; the unfolding political, military and economic scenario points to a much lowered outside breach of its sovereignty.

Nevertheless, the lava of troubles for South Asian region seems far from cooling down. With the Afghan-Pak relations still irritable, the possibility of India’s active role in Afghanistan has opened a new Pandora box. With Pakistan terming this future involvement as ‘spoiler in Afghanistan’, one doesn’t need to be a genius to know that we are up for an aggravated series of active and passive tensions between the two countries. But then the query arises- Why now? Why only now is India ready to jump into the quicksand of Afghan crises so explicitly? ‘Power Politics’ and ‘Pre-emptive Strategies’ serve as the closest answers – Pre-emptive strategy for what? Well, for the failing American grip over Afghanistan, for the tripartite coalition between China, Pakistan and Russia and foremostly for the expected revolution of economic landscape with the commencement of CPEC.

What Pakistan dreads the most is not the involvement of India in Afghanistan but the implicit intentions that the intervention may carry. India has been open to its reservations on CPEC and the fact that it is concerned and pestered by Pakistan becoming a major economic hub in near future remains uncloaked. America too, after a long and smart concealment of its concerns, has now openly shown its antagonism for the project. With US Defense Secretary James Mattis stating that “CPEC passes through disputed territory”, logic argues that the US has analyzed that its monopoly over the Asian region may be in troubled waters. Completion of One Belt-One Road project would mean the culmination of America’s biggest fear- Inability to contain China and its geostrategic weight which will increase by many folds.

The commonality of interests, that is – U.S and India both fearing the hegemonic dominance of their competitors, has resulted in the solidification of their alliance. What is yet to be seen is that in what shape the practical manifestations of these alliances unveil themselves in the times to come. How far countries can go to guard their interests and malign those of their adversaries is not a state secret. In a world where ‘capital’ dominates and ‘economy’ dictates- the game of survival will be full of drama and action.

Iran too is peeking from behind the curtain of this strategic dilemma. Although the clash between Chabahar Port and Gwadar Port is the talk of the town, rationality has advised Iran to seek interest in the CPEC itself. The willingness of Iran to join in on the venture with Pakistan will prove to be a win-win situation for each stakeholder. The accessibility of the two neighbors to the Central Asian Nations and an increased connectivity with the Arabian Sea will change the dynamics of economic integration in the region. The Iranian-American relations; which strengthened after the signing of the Iranian Nuclear Deal in 2015, now seem in jeopardy under the Trump administration and an increment in repulsive attitudes can be predicted. With Trump’s latest decision to decertify the Iran Nuclear Deal, the talks of sanctions on Iran and even of a possible war are all in circulation.

The increasing attention of Russia in South Asia is pointing at the building of a newly united bloc. Its renewed involvement in Afghan affairs since 2015 seeks to balance the American weight and neutralize the power structure. Russia’s close relation-building with Pakistan, especially militarily speaking, is adding a fresh hue to the political palette.

Marked with the creation of economic and political bandwagons, as well as with new and stronger coalitions, the politico-economic moves of the present seem to be a ‘history in the making’. The impact which the scheme of plans will result in is one to look for. Will all go smoothly? Or will the powers of realism, rationality and aggressive strategies take a toll?

The suspense of a major regional game-changer is building up, with everyone ready for the unprecedented.

is a student of International Relations, pursuing her degree program, in the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Geopolitics is a game of chess and Pakistan and Afghanistan is a chess board.

    Good alliances equatebto good decisions for the long term strategic interests of all parties concerned.

    Pakistan could have been in a very good position today if it were not for the disgraceful politics of Zardari government and a slow response from army and intelligence to thwart the attacks from within at inception and allowing it to fester.

    Strong Pakistan is needed and strong economy but also promote Pakistan to the world.

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