By Shazia Anwer Cheema
The rapid military developments in the Indo-Pacific have become a reality after the historic statement of U.S. President Joe Biden that “U.S forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion”. Loaded statements from Washington are not only seriously increasing chances of military conflict in Asia pacific rather are compelling regional countries to tailor their military strategies to fare the situation if it ever arises.
Pakistan which is time tested friend of the United States and China will be in the most critical situation in case Washington and Beijing go into a military conflict over Taiwan although China would refrain not to indulge in conflict till all the other options are closed.
On September 18, 2022, asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast whether U.S. forces would defend the democratically governed island claimed by China, US President Biden replied: “Yes if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.”
Independent foreign affairs experts are writing that Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy is designed to trap the Asia-Pacific region into a geopolitical game and confrontation, I am also writing extensively that the US is all set for an Indo-Pacific invasion by defying all the lessons learned from its recent past adventures including in Afghanistan. The indo-pacific is all set up for a new battlefield, the vast region is already smelling smoke of war exercises either by China or by the US. Latest North Korean and USA War exercises are the continuation of Five Eye, QUAD, AUKAS, Pacific Island Alliance, and many more. China, on the other hand, has a clear comprehensible stance just like Russia, do not attack my sovereignty, and don’t corner me. It is the simplest philosophy mankind can ever expose to. “Respect me in order to get respect from me”, is an innocent and honest desire of every human.
Pakistani media which is completely detached from international affairs, and buried knee-deep in domestic politics needs a clear narrative and instructions from power corridors to build the stance Pakistan is planning to take
Coming back to the point, is Pakistan ready to face the challenge of choosing a side? Pakistan having a niche engagement in the region solely based on counter-terrorism agenda will face the expected challenge of solidifying between two superpowers. The question of who will be a scoundrel and who will be a hero in the Taiwan war is going to be a controversial question across the globe. The US has not maintained the rhetoric of terror or terrorism for its upcoming invasion of the Taiwan Strait. Unlike the past when the US, decades prior to the middle east and the Afghan invasion bombard human perception with the rhetoric which paved the way to legitimize its actions. Now the world has changed, perception has a prior schema of the US military meddling with far-flung regions and the havoc associated with it so, now the human mind needs something else to be swayed. The rhetoric “China is a bad guy and must be contained” is not good enough conceptual framework, upon which the US is orchestrating a war. There is no tyranny in Indo-Pacific, no terrorists to kill, and no one is asking to be saved.
On the contrary, the region is at peace and thriving, having trade ties and commerce dependency on each other. Even arch enemies like India and China, or India and Pakistan are looking forward for trading solutions. War will not be welcomed in this region, but it will be imposed as US history tells us, by leaving a face-keeping crisis of shouting your allies ‘names out and open, which is of course bad for diplomacy and worse for this multi-polar world. The world is shifting toward segregating personal conflicts from trade and economy which is in fact the real road map for peace and prosperity and for the greater good of mankind. China’s supportive role in the region is commendable by opening new economic corridors and providing a fair chance for everyone to improve their livelihood.
Pakistani narrative regarding China is built up on “long last friendship” and “iron brothers” rhetoric. The prompted quest here could be “is Pakistan’s diplomatic enclave started any deliberation in order to face the upcoming reality? To my knowledge, it does not, as per custom it’s in firefighting mode.
According to my understanding, Pakistan has no preparation to face and tackle the situation, no narrative has been given, and no agenda has been formulated in accord to “shout your friend’s name in the open” ceremony. If Pakistan is thinking about going into abstention mode, that will be a deprecatory hummer even for a witty person like me.
For the past three years, I have been writing about almost all the major developments in the Indo-Pacific region with the clear perception that war in this region is becoming inevitable, although I am not a diplomat but can feel the region is no more at a rest, how come Pakistan’s Foreign Office is not smelling the smoke?
For me, Pakistan will be among the countries that will find itself hanged between the West and China thus clarity of thought and perception is a prerequisite in upcoming war diplomacy. Pakistani media which is completely detached from international affairs, and buried knee-deep in domestic politics needs a clear narrative and instructions from power corridors to build the stance Pakistan is planning to take.
Since Pakistan is facing multi-dimensional challenges therefore its National Security Committee (NSC) may not be in a position to look at strategic threats far from its western and eastern borders. Reemerging terrorism, domestic polarization, and economic nose-dive are already critical subjects and are creating an existential crisis for Pakistan.
On the other hand, growing tension between the US and China is squeezing diplomatic space for Pakistan which needs cordial relations with both the US and EU for many reasons, foremost of all is its economy. Over 80% of total Pakistan’s exports go to Europe and North America through the US and EU countries. IMF, World Bank, and ADB are economic pliers that can cut oxygen pipes Pakistan’s needs at the economic ventilator. China, on the other hand, ensures the strategic and geopolitical survival of Pakistan which has unfriendly neighbors at its eastern as well as western borders. Options are limited, with no grey zone left for Pakistan diplomatically.
Pakistan is going to see the most difficult times in the diplomatic sphere regarding fast pacing Taiwan Strait conflict ahead. In my opinion, Pakistan is being lucky in the past and never faced the crossroad of a decisive move by taking left or right road. Much expected Taiwan war will demand Pakistan to choose between China and the West. Hitherto again I think we are not prepared and waiting for a last-minute move that we do not know yet.
Note: Writer Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, columnist, and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media. She is a doctoral student and researcher in semiotics and philosophy of communication at Charles University in Prague. She can be reached at her: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.