China, Pakistan and Russia

November 3, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

By

Sattar Rind

It is a fact that things have changed considerably following Russia’s strike against ISIS in Syria. World politics have unexpectedly been transformed into a new World (Cold) War. This of course demands that new horizons be discussed in depth and every country must be thinking about its role in this new political world.

Despite the fact that the Middle East has been the two superpowers’ first move on the political chessboard, everyone senses that it will not be the last. The grand chessboard will definitely be extended and will reach to the Central Asian countries along with Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China as its essential part of this new ‘Great Game’.

When the formation of the metaphorical Stauntons / chesspieces was decided, the dynamic behind this process determined what a crucial decision Russian President Vladimir Putin had taken. However, the second and most essential decision by both superpowers has yet to be taken: that of how they will place their particular players on the chessboard.

The players will now have to decide what their role will be in this game and how the superpowers will save them from manoeuvring into a trap and not be convinced to show their self in this new version of the game.

Secondly, which country would be an important Staunton of this chessboard? How will the superpower use their pieces appropriately to dodge its rivals and checkmate one another.

It appears obvious what the result will be, yet is far from a foregone conclusion. Thus Russia has moved its first Pawn after twenty five years. Now it is the United States’ turn to move. Either way, the US has the option of moving the Pawn, Knight, Rock, Bishop or Queen or may have to pull the King into the game.

However it is very clear that no one is going to check any one by the Fool’s Mate – a checkmate within two moves.

This is definitely in line with the ‘Great Game’, a history of desiring control of the Middle East, South East Asia and Central Asian countries. It seems the geopolitical areas have more significance than any other political coins.

The Great Game‘ had also been coined by the British intelligent officer Arthur Conolly. In this case it referred to the strategic rivalry between Russia and the British Empire over the controlling of Central Asian countries in the 18th century.

The new phrase is not different from the first one, although at that time wars were fought with swords and gunpowder. The ‘Great Game’ phrase however is also used in the same context, a conflict to have supremacy over an area that has importance from a military and economical point of view, to exploit the resources now and in the future.

The superpowers continue to control the world’s heartland, considered to be Central Asia and its surrounding countries.

Russia had been out of the Middle East for a long time but Vladimir Putin’s decision to go on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war has put them at the centre of the ‘Great Game’ in the Middle East.

In response the US announced that they are going to intervene and send troops in support of the rebellion army fighting against the Syrian governments of Bashar al-Assad.

This would be a threatening action to world peace and would be an indication of World War III. Russia is controlling the airspace of Syria and Iraq. The latter nation have given Russia permission to fly its spy planes in its country when needed.

There is no doubt that Russia has a clear interest in the region besides restoring its lost honor and dignity. However, Russia has lost almost all of its presence in the Middle East and accordingly the longstanding interest in warm waters and warm water ports. As a consequence the Russian presence is provoking action against US geostrategic interests.

At the same time Russia has strong ties with Iran and with the existing Iraqi government through Iran. Therefore the ‘Great Game’ became more serious, particularly in the Middle East.

Russia has another important ally in China, a country that has its own interest in this region, wanting to reestablish the ancient silk route and move away from their total dependency on the Strait of Malacca through the Gwadar Port of Pakistan.

The country is therefore already in place to have the Gwadar port in its control and is planning to establish the pipeline, road and railway track from Gwadar to Kashgar, in the Chinese province Xinjiang.

China shares a collective border around 3000 kilometers with the world’s richest oil and mineral countries of central Asia: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Those countries are being considered geostrategic imperatives with an unparalleled value in the world.

Gwadar however will be the most strategic spot for China, having been phrased the ‘Gem in China’s String of Pearls’. The Gwadar Port without any doubt confirms that Pakistan has an important role in this new Cold War.

China however has not officially made its move, but is at least an economic superpower in every sense, though is less aggressive due to its culture and philosophers.

The great Chinese thinker Confucius has always believed in peace and harmony. He and others had always projected the idea that China must be powerful but not through aggression, stopping it however and maintaining balance in society. The Chinese people are firm followers of these ideologues, even awarding them spiritual status instead of the political thinkers in their society.

Even Chairman Mao, an outstanding leader of existing China, never went against Confucius, as there was nothing with which to go against him.

The British Philosopher Bertrand Russell effectively taunted America, a country he lived in for six years,  by not writing a single book on it or its culture, whereas he spent just six months in China and wrote a book on the country, in which he was admiring the traditional Chinese culture and people at a great level.

Times have changed however and China has brought many new things into its orbit without accepting any external forces. Thus China is bound to face and act in accordance with what the world requires from them in any given circumstance. China could not go against the natural requirement of survival as it greatly needs to expand its economic market.

That is why China wishes to extend its commercial activities to Europe and Central Asian countries. Besides, China has a need to be on the ‘safe’ side and remove any dependency from the American controlled sea route of Malacca.

China needs crude oil intact for energy purposes and to run its great economic power. Thus China wants the Gwadar sea port and a gas pipeline from Gwadar to Kashgar. Therefore the country at the same time needs the cooperation and friendship of Russia.

Nevertheless China’s ‘Great Game’ is Gwadar and will never lose its focus as it will serve the purpose of becoming the hub for operations to target Central Asia, West Asia and North Africa. Therefore China is careful about Pakistan who do not seem to stand with Russia in this new second Cold War. This must be a worrying point for China.

Beyond the above, countries will need to decide on which side they stand in this ‘Great Game’. But many will be facing great difficulties in making such a decision. In this respect Pakistan is the special case as it will face great pressure and trouble to come to any decision easily as the country’s most recent created slogans for China still resonate in that the friendship between China and Pakistan is ‘deep as the sea’ and ‘high as the Himalayas’.

Whether Pakistan would be part of China and Russia is the huge question to be answered as it is very difficult for Pakistan to go against the US and make a stand on this phenomenal situation.

It has still to be seen however and one may be able to say something following the visit of the Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army, General Raheel Sharif, due there from the 15th of this month. It is a long standing practice of the US to have never given any importance to democratic or civilian leaders in such a fundamental resolution in Pakistan.

Conversely General Raheel Sharif is assumed a very smart general who will not easily agree with the US and put the country in danger, much as the previous ruling General did, harming Pakistan to the level of destruction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sattar Rind

Sattar Rind lives in Sindh, Pakistan. and is an Author with four books to his credit. three poetry and one on politics. As a Columnist he has written for a number of newspapers and magazines since 1991. Sattar can be contacted at the following email address: sattar-rind@hotmail.com

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