I would like to analyse the present Indo-China row and threats to South Asian peace and the role of world powers especially Russia, USA, and Australia; where do we stand as a neighbour of highly-hostile India?

We need to understand why this region has been selected by world powers to destabilise and the response is very simple, that the west does not like the phenomenal rise of China as an economic unit. Secondly, US President Donald Trump had openly announced that he does not like China’s One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative. While the US has failed technically, and has faced defeat in Afghanistan, however, it wants to leave Afghanistan while saving some face in the process. In the given situation, it cannot stand the indulgence of its arch-rivals; China and Russia in the peace process.

In the meantime, India is also playing dirty and does not want peace in Afghanistan. In the emerging situation, there is likely a gulf between Russia and the US, in which Russia will be seen closer to China. The west and the US chose Indian PM Narendra Modi with low intelligence capabilities who easily fell in their trap against China, which PM Modi realised for the first time when he had to ditch the Blue Dot Network, which was aimed at shifting investors from China to India. But Modi was not allowed by the Indian elite and opposition to provide such a big cost in terms of land and logistics for the US in this anti-China project.

PM Modi helped the Americans via a joint defence pact and built six airports outside India to stop supplies via the blue line to China. India collaborated with Australia as well to share two of its islands which are strategically important from the defence point of view. In this way, India provided the US three-way support, whereas China’s intelligence was aware of these moves via Indian mobile service providers. I must say that it was India that initiated provoking China to make the US happy.

India opted to build infrastructure in eastern Ladakh as it is away from Pakistan and India did not want to see both Pakistan and China counter the attack together. This strategy of India will be detrimental for Pakistan. One can clearly see the defeated face of Modi nowadays as he looks to have been beaten well by Chinese and the Chinese have served him right and indirectly sent a stinging message to the US as well.

India is buying arms from Russia and building its defence on the Sino-Indian border. Apart from having a 75-year-old relationship, the defence facet of the relationship is one of the strongest pillars of the India-Russia friendship. It remains to be seen how India can play a balancing act between the US and Russia. The latest cause of the strength of this relationship is the S-400 deal between India and Russia. Russia’s S-400 system—a mobile, long-range, surface-to-air missile system was launched in 2007. India signed a $5bn deal for the state-of-the-art missile defence system in 2018. It will be delivered to India by the end of 2021. Russia is now under sanctions by the US so in such commotion, the US finds one of its closest allies, India doing a hand-to-hand deal for S-400s with Russia. The sanctions came in after the deal, but now India can’t back off at this juncture since Russia is one of its oldest defence partners and that’s why so far, there has been no anti-India statement from Russia. India has lost heavy exports of over $100 billion and losing such a volume of exports is going to bring a huge setback.

Meanwhile, when China completed its industrialisation within 60 years and became the world’s second-largest economic and military power, and has already challenged the US to pull out its ships from South China Sea, it also gained the power and ability to deny the US Navy access to its littorals and near the sea. This reflects badly on the United States as there is no single body of water under the US Navy’s control in the South China Sea. Thus began the pivot back to some Asian countries that were to provoke China with tacit US backing as it hopes that a myriad of provocations will prompt China to fire the first shot, but in the case of Philippines, the opposite happened near Scarborough Shoals in 2012 when they tried to detain Chinese fishermen. This triggered a chain of events that enabled China to reclaim land and deploy fighter jets in the Paracel Islands.

From 1945 to 1972, there had never been disputes in the South China Sea, which had returned to China from Japanese occupation and the 11 dash lines until the discovery of oil reserves underneath the South China Sea. After it was found that there is a huge energy reserve underneath the South China Sea, Vietnam broke into the 9 dashed line and claimed some islands. Philippines and Indonesia jointly encroached Chinese sovereignty and built many artificial islands within the 9 dash line and made profit from the extraction of oil and gas. It is important to note that all the countries bordering the South China Sea are allies of the USA. It is quite apparent now that India has been emboldened by the US to provoke China in a recent standoff to engage it on the borders while US warships illegally trespassed the disputed South China Seas. It is in China’s and other Asian countries’ interest to maintain a peaceful SCS where $5.3 trillion worth of global trade passes through.

The confusion in Modi, after deliberate conflict with China displays that he might have now realised that fighting for the sake of the US will be counterproductive. PM Modi has been exposed both here and abroad. One question is circulating; whether India can attack Pakistan in sheer desperation to save some face in front of its own people? My analysis is that Modi is basically a coward and an RSS-infected terrorist. Indian politicians and the general public, in particular, are both aware of this mentally unstable man who is badly influenced by Indian films and is likely to put India in big trouble because of his brainless self. Someone has to tell him to get out of the Bollywood syndrome and be practical enough to learn to survive with neighbours in the changing world.

There is a little fear that India might try to attack to cut CPEC from China to Pakistan via Gilgit Baltistan as it is making false claims of possession of GB territory, but it is worth noting that we have more than 21000 Pakistani security personnel who have been tasked with protecting Chinese nationals in Pakistan working on CPEC—amongst other projects—starting from Khunjerab to Karachi and Punjab. Both countries are facing terrorism from Taliban and ETMI and I feel proud in declaring that I orchestrated the arrest of 23 hardcore terrorists of ETMI and handed them over to the Chinese authorities.

As a frightening and unfortunate development, after US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to India, both countries had signed a multi-billion-dollar arms deal. It will definitely have no effect on the American arms industry, but it will take a huge toll on the peace of South Asia. Pakistan and China both need to voice concerns over the deal and India’s aggressive designs and try to counter these threats together appropriately. China recently defended Pakistan openly against Donald Trump’s criticism against the country. The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirmed Beijing’s support to Pakistan. Spokeswoman Hua Chunying asserted that Pakistan was on the frontline in the struggle against terrorism and had made “great sacrifices” and “important contributions” in the fight. Chunying called on the international community to recognise Pakistan’s role in the fight against terrorism. This is a fact and it is part of Sino-Pak history. Pakistan, Russia, China, and Turkey should become part of an alliance. China performed to rise as an economic leader which has dismayed many and this US-China Cold War will further step up in the future. There is no doubt that China can act as balancing power to block any US venture in South Asia and the above alliance can play a very positive role.

In the end, I would like to add that India should try to work out some honourable way to wriggle out from this row with China to keep South Asia peaceful. In reference to Pakistan, I feel that India will continue to have limited violations on our Line of Control (LoC) to keep us engaged on the border, whereas Modi has done whatever he had to do in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Modi is very fond of airstrikes as evidenced earlier by the two unsuccessful strikes against Pakistan. Modi by now has fully realised the capability of Pakistan’s armed forces and the nation need not to worry, as Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajawa is capable of countering and defeating the enemy. Pakistan has emerged as a closer friend to China during the recent Indo-China clashes duly supported by the west. The defeated Modi was looking even more demoralised during his visit to the hospital in Galwan to see the soldiers, badly beaten by Chinese soldiers in eastern Ladakh.

The desperate Modi may be prompted by his western bosses to seek revenge either through a proxy war in China or a limited attack on China in some selected parts of the Indo-China border in due time.

Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and not necessarily to reflect the views or opinions of my party.

Senator Rehman Malik

The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Standing Committee on Interior. He can be reached at: rmalik1212@gmail.com, Twitter

@Senrehmanmalik