Regional

India-China tensions and Pakistan

Jul 21, 2017
Indian politician and former defence minister Mulayam Singh’s statement alleging that China has installed nuclear weapons inside Pakistan to attack India is an indication of the deteriorating relations between China and India. The politician also said that China, and not Pakistan, is India’s enemy.
 
Such comments reflect, at the very least, some significant alarm in New Delhi over the growing collaboration between Pakistan and China. But far from an occasion for gloating and provocative behaviour, for Pakistan this should be a moment to review our diplomatic strategy. Considering that Pakistan does not have a dedicated foreign minister - with the embattled Prime Minister holding that portfolio at the moment - it might become something of a challenge to come up with a coherent and well-considered position at international forums. This would be especially true in case the confrontation between China and India worsens.
 
Although the apparent war of words is between China and India, Pakistan is certainly a part of it. Far from being able to address the concerns that India might raise, especially at international forums, Pakistan’s foreign policy is currently vague and has faced multiple major setbacks in the past few years. Moreover, it remains unclear - especially to the foreign observer - as to who exactly is in charge of foreign policy.
 
The fact is that Pakistan can ill afford yet more foreign policy failures. Given the current regional situation and in light of recent developments, Pakistan might soon face a situation of some significant isolation at international forums. Of course, such an outcome could be avoided through clear thinking and effective lobbying. But perhaps for that to happen, we could begin by having a dedicated foreign minister. Few would dispute the idea that the Prime Minister has enough on his plate domestically at the moment.
 
Moreover, if the tensions between India and China continue to escalate, some sort of third-party intervention might be needed. Whether or not Pakistan can play any significant role in such diplomacy remains to be seen. However, what is certain is that the country will have to ramp up its diplomatic capabilities very significantly - and very soon! 
 
Daily Times, July 21, 2017

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