CHANGING regional and global politico-economic circumstances and emerging security concerns have been reshaping the relationship between/among nations. The replica of Cold War lingo is indicating the revival of strategic competition between the Russian Federation and United States. Both nations have begun adding new versions of intercontinental ballistic missiles and tactical nuclear weapons in their arsenals. The revival of great power competition, definitely, necessitates realignment in the regional and international strategic environment. Indeed, chalking out a realistic strategy in such a stimulating geostrategic environment is a Herculean task.
The United States is confronting competitors at the global political landscape. Therefore, President Donald Trump announced that his National Security Strategy “is a strategy of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology.” The realist equates the int e r national politics with Hobbesian world order in which sovereign states compete for advantage and militarily advantageous nations coerce the smaller/depended partners for maximizing their gains. The procurement of modernized high-tech military hardware, therefore, is inevitable to pursue objectives in the competitive geopolitical affairs. This trend in the global strategic environment is obliging security conscious nations to advance their military arsenals. Consequently, all nuclear weapon states have been modernizing their nuclear weapon arsenals. The recurrence of Balance of Power at the global strategic landscape is posing a challenge to the existing power structure. It is exposing United States ‘sole supper power’ role to structure and administer a ‘new world order’. The ascendency of China and assertive Russian policies oblige Washington to constitute new alliances such as US-Japan-India; adopt Asia Pivot strategy; and endorse Indo-Pacific strategy. The new strategic alignment of Washington is in the strategic advantage of India. Conversely, it is detrimental for the strategic partnership of United States and Pakistan. It’s because Americans are uncomfortable over Pakistan’s determination to resist the Indians domination.
Since the end of Cold War, Islamabad has been facing immense challenges in its dealings with Washington. Though Pakistan was declared a major non-NATO ally in the war on terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11, yet Islamabad and Washington have been unable to formulate identical regional and global outlook during the last decade. The Indo-US strategic partnership and the Americans incapacity to accomplish their desired objectives in Afghanistan undermine Pak-US strategic partnership in the recent years.
The mantras of ‘do-more’, unsubstantial accusations, and above all political intimidations have frustrated Pakistanis. Eventually, Pakistani ruling elite pronounced ‘no-more’. Indeed, Washington was not prepared for such a diplomatic snub. The threatening approach of the Americans towards Pakistan was manifested in President Trump’s repulsive tweet on January 1, 2018, National Security Strategy released on December 18, 2017 and his new plan for South Asia and Afghanistan announced on August 21, 2017. The American ruling elite’s frustrated cum bullish attitude pushed Islamabad closer to Moscow and Beijing.
The majority of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) ‘early harvest’ (2015-2019) projects are already completed. The remaining early harvest projects will be completed by 2019. The completion of these projects adds approximately 7000 MW electricity to national grid and also improves the road network. The development and operationalization of Gwadar port foster optimism about the economic prosperity of the country. Conversely, it alarms the strategic competitor of Pakistan and China. They are afraid of China possibly using Gwadar in future as a strategic naval base in a critical sea fare lane in the Gulf. New Delhi is employing hybrid warfare tactics to obstruct the CPEC. The shift in Americans strategic outlook turns Islamabad towards Moscow for diplomatic support at the international forums and military hardware imports. Russians facilitated Pakistan in securing the full membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Pakistani defense planners are contemplating to import helicopters, armored vehicles, drones, radar systems, and ships designed for military use from Russia.
On April 24, 2018, Colonel General Oleg Salyukov, Commander Russian Federation Ground Forces informed Army Chief General Qamar JavedBajwa at Kremlin Palace: “Pakistan is a geostrategically important country and Russia is keen to expand its existing bilateral military to military cooperation.” The latter also praised Moscow’s “positive role” in resolving “complex situations in the region”. Precisely, Islamabad and Moscow are recalibrating their military, diplomatic and economic ties against the backdrop of realignments.
The Americans new strategic alignment brought a shift in the South Asian archrivals foreign and strategic policies. Both Islamabad and New Delhi are realigning themselves. Pakistan is drifting gradually towards China and Russia, while India is cementing its strategic partnership with the United States. Simultaneously, both states have been advancing their conventional and nuclear weapons. In a nutshell, for sake of sovereign defense in current stimulating strategic environment Pakistan needs to guard and advance its welldeveloped nuclear and missile capabilities.
Contributed by Dr. Zafar Jaspal
The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad & Member Advisory Board at ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’ and Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR)