Fostering features of economic interdependence in conduct of foreign relations; successfully replaced geopolitics with geo-economics, would contribute to promote international peace and security becoming catalyst for the Asian Integration. As flagship project, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the ‘One Belt One Road’ has given the new definition of interdependence to attain regional integration and harmony in Asian century.
Shared positive histories of Pakistan and China acted as the underlying agent towards their enhanced bilateral cooperation allowing them to strengthen their ties via new channels of economic integration. Prior to this CPEC initiative, they have shared similar interests in regards to regional security and stability, and consequently China has aided Pakistan in matters concerning their internal security. Traditionally, China has opted to maintain robust ties with Pakistan. Their joint affiliations were proven during the period of Soviet-Afghan War, where China actively supported Pak-U.S. alliance against Soviet aggression.
States pursued foreign policies are drastically affected by the regional and international dynamics, and one cannot ignore the geopolitics of South Asia while observing the progressive ties amid China and Pakistan. In the contemporary era, South Asian region has remained to be a pivotal focus of the international arena. Where the region has suffered tremendously under the havocs of terrorism and has been under the critical eye of the globe. Pakistan has actively promoted regional and international peace via endorsing avenues to eliminate terrorism and towards attaining internal stabilities. In the recent years, Pakistan has maintained to strengthen their internal securities, and successfully established nuclear triad.
Their policies have also shifted to focus upon economic avenues alongside the defensive needs of the nation which have been critical due to the Indian factor. The CPEC initiative is a $56 billion bilateral arrangement amid China and Pakistan, and allows both entities to broaden their scopes in regards to regional connectivity. The transit routes developed as a consequence of this initiative would enable both states to conduct smoother economic ties. Serving as a golden opportunity for both states to develop strengthened relations within the region, ultimately promoting region to region ties. Multiple analysts have proclaimed the immense influence this initiative holds over the geopolitics of South Asia.
The region remains highly sensitive as it is occupied by three of the declared nuclear states of the world. With the emergence of non-state actors, the regional stability has been immensely challenged. Post 9/11 scenario has developed a perilous image of Pakistan, where it has resultantly created loopholes that allowed US-Indian nexus to emerge. The diplomatic ties amidst US and India have developed further in the recent years. Whereas, Pakistan’s foreign relations with US took 180 degree shifts according to international dilemmas.
The nexus developed as the consequence of Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal and the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) waiver granted to India, enforces Pakistan to emerge as a key player in the region. Subsequently, generates avenues for Pakistan to establish progressive relations with China and Russia. The U.S. efforts to politically counter China in the region via Indian dominance has persisted, and their presence within region has also been heightened due to the Afghan factor. The economic and political avenues achieved via this initiative allows Pakistan to interact with the globe, allowing both states to expand their opportunities in terms of regional connectivity, economic development and further assist them in the development of strategic influences within the region.
Many European and Central Asian states have desired interests towards investing in this project. As this initiative allows Pakistan to further develop Gwadar Port, which strategically holds immense importance as a key international oil shipping route. This is the shortest route that allows China to gain access to their energy needs, and to overcome the South-China sea issue. Simultaneously, it allows Pakistan to develop their less saturated areas and further assist them in developing strengthened relations with the regional states.
Central Asian countries are keen to develop their energy markets via investing in this project, as it would also allow them to overcome any Russian dependencies and assist them to gain access to Arabian and Indian Ocean. Apart from that, in light of the recent European Union sanctions imposed upon Russia; European states want to pursue newer ties with the region to enhance their influences, find alternative markets for their commodities and to remove themselves from Russian energy dominance.
This project allows them to meet their energy demands without facing any interruptions. Russia has also adopted policy shifts and are focused upon expanding their reach through newly established markets and aim at gaining access to the warm waters of the territory. This would also allow them to reestablish links with China and enable them to maintain their control over the Central Asian states.
In contrast, CPEC initiative has also met with criticism by the regional community, especially India. India’s aggressive policies towards Pakistan drastically affect their perceptions about the CPEC initiative. Indian analyst widely believe that this project threatens India’s domestic securities, due to which they have pursued to develop progressive ties with Afghanistan and Iran. To undermine strategic importance of Gwadar port, India joined for the construction of Chabahar port alongside Iran and Afghanistan.
This project signifies the Indo-Afghan nexus that has developed in the region, and symbolizes their mutual animosity towards Pakistan. Pakistan relations with India and Afghanistan have remained constrained, and a string of blame game persists amidst them. Regional securities have been heavily violated under the terrorist attacks, and the air of wariness which prevails amongst all three entities further complicates their respective bilateral relations with Pakistan. Many analyst claim that those who contest the progression of CPEC will attempt to create hindrances in its developmental processes.
The CPEC initiative deems to be a positive venture for the region to develop integrated ties amid the regional states. In regards to regional security, intensified relations within the region would assist in developing peace and stability. Pakistan has focused upon countering terrorist and security issues, Zarb-e-Azb has generated positive outcomes in terms of minimizing terrorist attacks within state. Pakistan is pursuing further defense deals with China to strengthen their sea based defenses aiming to intensify the defense protocols, to enhance their securities along the sea route of CPEC.
The CPEC initiative is not focused upon addressing only a certain area of development, analyst claim that this project would also enable both states to enhance their military capabilities. Subsequently, provides China with avenues to counter India’s regional hegemonic ambitions. Pakistani officials also support Chinese naval presence in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. In order to ensure security measures, they are also interested in importing high tech ships from China and Turkey; aiming to install special squad at the Gwadar port. The CPEC serves as a positive entity to pursue interdependence to achieve regional integration and harmony.