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Pakistan’s National Security Policy 2022 In Context Of US-China-India Triangular Relations – Analysis

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Pakistan National Security Policy 2022 unveiled this month cannot escape analysis of its content and intent in the context of US-China-India context as the very nature of Pakistan’s existing State-structure with ‘Garrison State’ mindsets would not admit geoeconomics to subvert Pakistan’s over-obsession that it exists besieged on both flanks.

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For a change, while Pakistan expresses in this new Document its pious sentiments to be at peace for a hundred years with India and with its neighbours, the thrusts outlined in terms of prioritising its geopolitical directions for Pakistan’s Comprehensive National Security inherently carry contradictions. 

Further, the avowed aim f the Policy Document that geoeconomics should be the determinant of Pakistan’s national security gets contradicted by the thrust of its declaratory foreign policy goals.

Pakistan’s National Security and more specially Comprehensive National Security cannot be guaranteed by mortgaging of Pakistan’s future to China by the Deep State. Nor can Pakistan’s future be secured by in spite of United States and India.

Pakistan’s foreign policy flowing from the newly asserted National Security Policy still continues to be dominated by Pakistan’s existent foreign policy which so far stood fixated on its irreconcilable hostility against India and the need for a countervailing Power against India. It was the United States earlier and after US 9/11, Pakistan placed itself in China’s strategic care.

Cutting through the published content of Pakistan’s National Security Policy 2022 which for the first time in Pakistan’s chequered history talks about Comprehensive National Security and the imperatives of economic security, the broad thrusts propounded still betray that Pakistan is still weighed down in the old rut.

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Pakistan has clearly delineated in its positional fix in the National Security Policy 2022 its policy preferences in the triangular geopolitical configuration of the United States-China-India in which security-fixated Pakistan has to operate.

Buoyed by a triumphalist sense of having been able to install a Pakistan-friendly Afghan Taliban government in Kabul through which Pakistan manoeuvred the exit of United States from Afghanistan, it is time for Islamabad to gloat that United States can ill-afford to side-line Pakistan from its strategic policy formulations.

Implicit in the above assertion is that the United States freed from its Afghanistan embedment will still need Pakistan strategically whereas the converse is not true. Implicit further in this assertion is that Islamabad now feels secure with China as its countervailing strategic patron not only to withstand India but also against any undue pressurising by the United States.

Pakistan is explicit in its National Security Policy 2022 on its ties with China. Pakistan strongly asserts that Pakistan’s ties with China are ‘Non-Negotiable’.

Pakistan is emphasising the obvious by this assertion because for years it was being abundantly reflected in my writings that Pakistan had decidedly opted to move into China’s strategic orbit.

In my Book : “China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives’ will be found reproduced in Annexure VII my Paper of 06 July 2015 entitled :Pakistan’s Switch from United States Frontline State to China’s Frontline States’. That sums it all, and Pakistan National Security Policy 2022 document reflects it.

On India, Pakistan National Security Policy 2022 is repetitive that no peace with India is possible without the resolution of the Kashmir issue. Pakistan continues to harp on Kashmir being a ‘Core Issue’ that will determine its policies towards India.  Notably, public pronouncements of Pakistan PM Imran Khan that no talks with India on Kashmir without rescinding abrogation of Article 370 abrogation, can take place, is reflected in the Document.

Contextually, two sets of contradictions arise from the broad thrusts that Pakistan has enunciated in its National Security Policy 2022. 

To start with, China and India are Pakistan’s geographical neighbours whereas the United States still continuing as a Superpower is the Non-Resident Global Power in South Asia and cannot be wished away by Pakistan, notwithstanding United States exit from Afghanistan.

In terms of strategic triangular power dynamics that Pakistan has to contend with for its national security, Pakistan has to contend with complex strategic dilemmas. In 2022, the situation that is presented is that United States and India are locked in a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership based on interlocking strategic convergences on Indo Pacific Security of which South Asia is the Western component.

The ‘China Threat’ underlies the substantively evolving US-India Strategic Partnership further supplemented by QUAD Security Initiative. The United States unlike yesteryears is no longer a Countervailing Power for Pakistan but both United States and India are in adversarial conflict-prone confrontation with China presently over-relied upon by Pakistan as its preferred prevailing Countervailing Power.

Analytically, addressing the vital question of Pakistan’s military security first, what would Pakistan’s National Security hinge on in the event of an inevitable United States-China armed conflict going on current indicators? Would Pakistan standby China as it’s declared “Non –Negotiable’ Countervailing Power?

In the event of a China-India War and on which China is expecting Pakistan to be its ‘Force-Multiplier’ would Pakistan afford a consequently “self-destruct” option in a conflict of China’s making?

Addressing the vital aspect of Pakistan’s economic security, languishing for years, and now in an ICU stage, Pakistan has to seriously question itself whether China has serious intentions of committing its financial resources to bail out Pakistan from its economic insolvency—the recurring topic of my last few analyses on Eurasia Review. China’s record des not show it.

In its National Security Policy 2022, Pakistan has waxed eloquently on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) being Pakistan’s ‘Lifeline” provided by China. Notable analyses worldwide have opined that CPEC serves China’s strategic interests and less of Pakistan’s economic security.

Deep resentment within Pakistan and especially on its terminal ends of the CPEC has already surfaced within Pakistan including killings of Chinese engineers involved in CPEC. Pakistanis are resenting the deep and intrusive penetration by China of the Pakistani system.

Pakistan seems to have forgotten that it is the United States that controls global financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. Recently, having been virtually rebuffed by China, Pakistan PM Imran Khan who had defiantly maintained that he would never approach the IMF had to stoop down with a begging bowl to IMF. 

More nearer home, Pakistan’s deteriorating economic situation could get ameliorated, if only Pakistan would gracefully plug into India’s strong economic strengths. But that would entail Pakistan to redefine its ‘Core Policies’ on Kashmir and State Sponsored Terrorism. Can Pakistan do it?

Concluding, what needs emphasis is that any Pakistan’ National Security Policy formulations would be hollow and meaningless until for the greater good of Pakistan’s poverty-stricken masses is catered by a Comprehensive National Security based on strong fundamentals  not of a ‘Garrison State; but that of an ‘Economic Welfare Democratic State’ at peace with its neighbours.

To that end, the United Sates and India that can and need to be be relied upon, not China.

Dr. Subhash Kapila

Dr Subhash Kapila combines a rich and varied professional experience of Indian Army Brigadier ( Veteran), diplomatic assignments in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Bhutan. Served in India's Cabinet Secretariat also. He is a Graduate of Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley, UK, Msc Defence Studies from Madras University and a Doctorate in Strategic Studies from Allahabad University. Papers have been presented by him in International Seminars in Japan,Turkey, Russia and Vietnam. Credited to him are over 1,500 Papers on geopolitical & strategic topical issues and foreign policies of USA, Japan, India, China and Indo Pacific Asia. He has authored two Books : "India's Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis" and "China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives"

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