The South Asian Challenge

While the two south Asian neighboring countries, India and Pakistan, overwhelmed in the past by series of hostilities having consensually agreed to a border ceasefire on LOC, certain respite amid a beam of hope is seen by the analytical observers. The decision has been ostensibly a pleaser for the people in Kashmir but inevitably poised with doubt for many such attempts for peaceful and purposeful engagement in the past have been undone by the invisible hawkish hands present on both sides. The changing, and of course challenging, geopolitical scenario in this South Asian region has forced the shift in national political strategy of global giants like China and the United States of America, besides the stimulatory changes in the state of affairs experienced presently by India and Pakistan both. It is believed by the argus-eyed observers on South Asian affairs to have far reaching consequences in buttressing the political future of the decades old disputes between the two countries.

The People’s Republic of China as well as the United States developed renewed politico-strategic interests in this South Asian belt constituting India- Pakistan-Afghanistan vis a vis Kashmir. China has invested billions of dollars over more than two decades of time to make its CPEC project come true through active involvement of Pakistan; it connects more than 100 countries to Chinese trade directly. The trade and economic mouth pieces in Sino Pakistan economic domain have called it a game changer.

China which has already risen to the tier of a world economy besides being a military power would not leave any stone unturned to ensure complete safety and security of CPEC passing through Pakistan and its Mega terminal in Gawadar. Donald Trump’s inclination to prevail upon the functionality of CPEC passing through Pakistan has in the past had culminated in Sino-India standoff in Ladakh that eventually spread to some other borders in the North East as reported earlier by Indian media outlets. There has been an awkward situation as experienced by India on the borders shared with China over the past almost a year. Though several engagements were envisaged between India and China to diffuse the border hostility, tensions still prevailed. As the defense and economic experts in India opined over the preceding year that multiple front hostility from China and Pakistan would be a military embarrassment and that it would potentially threaten investment in the nation that would in turn worsen the country’s plummeting economy already hit by the scourge of Covid 19 pandemic. Voices from some eminent political visionaries have been heard from reliable media sources like NDTV and Times Now advocating not to keep hostage the big country like India to a miniscule region of Kashmir. The sinking GDP worsened by huge spike in oil prices are understood to have a negative impact on the National economy. China is of late understood to have developed strategic interest in the so called vexed Kashmir problem vis a vis securing CPEC’s safety.

The latest announcement of an LOC ceasefire by the South Asian nuclear neighbors is seen in this perspective to be only a starter that may be manifested as bilateral engagement diplomatically sometime in future. Albeit the fact that hawks on both the sides would not sit idle, particularly the extreme far rightists who vehemently talk of Gazwa e Hind in Pakistan and Akhand Bharat in India, and thus the past might have high chances of being repeated.

On the other hand Joe Biden’s Pentagon backed Afghanistan policy does not seem to have buyers in this region. While erst while President Donald Trump had accepted the ground reality in Afghanistan, Biden does not seem to reconcile with Trump’s withdrawal decision. But notwithstanding the Taliban offensive overtly backed politically and logistically by China, Russia and Pakistan, Washington’s options have been cornered to certain limit. The present US political dispensation has finally begun to realize that Islamabad was no more vulnerable to her pressure tactics of “do more” and the only avenue to reach a peaceful settlement in Kabul that would ensure US honorable exit from Afghanistan passed through Islamabad. This perhaps persuades White house for an amicable K settlement so that Islamabad would easily conform to her demands in Kabul and US would be able to look after her interests in that region.

Moreover both US and China are enough cognizant of the fact that New Delhi would never be made to pursue a policy of letting Kashmir go to Pakistan’s yoke particularly in absence of Pakistan’s military competence to take it over. Thus came the Pakistan premier Mr. Khan’s recent policy statement on Kashmir that Islamabad was not opposed to an independent Kashmir forgetting about its erstwhile adherence to international resolution on Kashmir and showing avid eagerness to push for opening up parlors for bilateral engagement.

The China and US too were never ever interested to see Kashmir a part of Pakistan. At the moment newly emerging geo-political and economic challenges for all the stake holders in South Asia, the China, US, India and Pakistan are possibly influenced by both the intrinsic as well as extrinsic compulsions to reckon with the changing scenario to escape catastrophe of war, economic instability and rise in poverty. The US doubtlessly must have perceived China’s volition to prevail upon the pestered Kashmir issue to accomplish her own stakes. This is for sure to spur her efforts to join the race to keep out China.

Emphatically and beyond doubt the Indo-Pak imbroglio can have a lasting solution if any, during BJP Government in New Delhi while the Congress successive regimes have badly failed to address the issues and all its attempts have proved only a damage control mechanism since the congress invented the problems. Inevitably the present BJP nationalist Government is headed by a strongest ever leadership and enjoys overwhelming majority at the floor of house, the precise policy decision making has become much easier for her. There is no dearth of people on both sides who realize that while New Delhi and Islamabad were always at logger heads, nevertheless, the only way to sustainable development and economic stability was an ice melting diplomatic peace initiative.