US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on September 6, 2018. Photo: AFP/Prakash Singh
File photo of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with former Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on September 6, 2018. Photo: AFP/Prakash Singh

The geopolitical situation is undergoing rapid change, especially in Asia. It seems that the world’s declining superpower, the US, does not wish to see a peaceful and stable Asia. The trade war between the US and China is not a routine matter – it was carefully planned, calculated and executed. It is in place for the US to remain the global economic superpower. But it might lead to destabilization of the global economy.

The situation in the South China Sea is on the back burner but any misadventure could increase tensions that might lead to a conflict engulfing the whole Pacific Ocean.

Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a regional power, is moving closer to Russia. China and Russia are strengthening the bonds of cooperation and friendship; the emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and many other regional alliances is part of the changing geopolitics in Asia.

The US is losing its popularity because of its hostile policies and is suffering isolation globally. Once the moral leader of the civilized world, it has become a laughing stock under the presidency of Donald Trump. Even longtime close allies are disappointed and keeping a distance from the US. The United Nations too is losing its due role and has failed to maintain its charter in many cases.

India understands well the dynamics of all such changes and is trying to gain as much as possible. It has become a Major Defense Partner (MDP) with the US. It is getting assistance in high tech and emerging technologies. India has acquired the latest weapons as well as economic assistance. It has become the biggest beneficiary of US foreign aid after Israel.

However, India has kept its options open and may not follow US policies in true spirit. It will most probably continue its trade with Iran, hence defying US-imposed sanctions. It is a fact that India depends on Iranian oil, along with other countries. Let’s wait and see how the US implements its sanctions on India. Will the US allow all other countries to continue to import oil from Iran or will it only grant a special concession for India?

India has succeeded in obtaining MDP status with the US but has also rebooted relations with Russia. India has once again become the beneficiary of Russian weapons and is going to get the S-400 missile system. Turkey was punished and had its request to acquire F-35 fighter jets delayed because of its interest in the Russian S-400 but India is given an exemption. Why this special treatment!?

India is acquiring technologies to suppress Kashmiris and expanding its military ties with Israel, while getting all possible benefits from the Arab world.

India openly opposes China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI is focused on upgrading infrastructure, connectivity and people-to-people contacts and enhancing cultural harmony. It is meant to reinvigorate economic activities and promote prosperity in the region. India, in spite of opposing it, is still a beneficiary of its funding through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Keeping in mind India’s policy of grabbing opportunity from anywhere to further its interests may be fruitful and succeed in the short term, but in the longer run, the saying “everybody’s friend is nobody’s friend” may come true and no country may trust India as a true ally.

Pakistan was closely allied to the West during the entire Cold War era and was a frontline state in America’s “war on terror,” sacrificing 70,000 precious lives with an estimated net loss of around US$250 billion in economic terms. What have we Pakistanis gotten in return from the US, and the West in general?

It is time to think and rethink, think smartly and act proactively. Our intellectuals and scholars need to advise our leadership on the true situation and help them devise appropriate policies. Whatever we sow today, our next generation will reap tomorrow.

Zamir Awan

Professor Zamir Ahmed Awan is a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Chinese Studies Center of Excellence, Islamabad, Pakistan. Posted to the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing as science counselor (technical affairs) from 2010-16, he was responsible for promoting cooperation between Pakistan and China in science, technology, and higher education.

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