Pakistan as a Factor in Sino –Indian Relations

June 10, 2011
Event: 
Fellows' Seminar

Chair: Amb (retd) R. Rajagopalan
Discussants: Prof. K. R. Sharma and Mr. M. V. Rappai


The core argument of Dr. Das’s paper was that the Sino-Pakistani strategic axis has gained salience in the context of the geo-politics of the cold war. It should be perceived as a marriage of convenience, contrary to what both China and Pakistan claim. This relationship is based on the convergence of their mutual interests. China wants to balance India and Pakistan has always wanted to have a political shield. The Sino-Pak axis can be partially explained on the grounds of trust deficit and security dilemma between India and China. However, the increasing Sino-Indian interaction has produced increased sensitivity on the Chinese side regarding the India concerns. Secondly, the strengthening of the Sino-US rapprochement and strategic engagement has also produced corresponding resonance on Sino-Indian relations. Thirdly, Chinese support to Pakistan also needs to be understood keeping in view the China’s domestic and external compulsions.

The major points of discussion and suggestions:

  • Pakistan can be stated as a classic example of a failed state. However, China will not be comfortable with the idea of a failed state in Pakistan due to the fear of nuclear terrorism.
  • As India grows, Pakistan’s fear and insecurity will also grow.
  • There is no clear perception regarding who actually controls power in Pakistan. However, it is apparent that it is the army which is in real control and is dictating the course of action.
  • Pakistan should be regarded as both as a factor and a non-factor in India-China relations.
  • Geography plays a very important role in defining the relationship between India, China and Pakistan. It is geopolitics which is actually dictating the terms of this relationship.
  • There is a need to understand and revisit the nuclear collaboration between China and Pakistan. The Conference on Disarmament debates were stopped by Pakistan at the behest of China.
  • India China economic relations are growing. On the other hand there is no development in the India Pakistan trade relations. Pakistan China trade relations are also not that huge.
  • Pakistan is a democratic country, but it is owned by the military.
  • There is a need to study the nexus between the Chinese army and the Pakistani army. Consequently, India has to be prepared to deal with both the neighbours.
  • There is need to provide a brief background of the historical relations between China and Pakistan.
  • It would not be wrong to argue that if India was in China’s position, India would have been playing the same geopolitical game.
  • Between 1995 and 2005 China attempted to de-hyphenate its relationship between India and Pakistan.
  • There is need to understand why Pakistan has shifted its focus from the United States to China. At the same time, China was also worried about the alliance between United States, Australia, Japan and India.
  • China has been blocking the Indian claim to the UNSC permanent seat because both India and Japan have been clubbed together. And China has always been against the Japanese entry.
  • China is now facing a dilemma as to how to manage its relationship both with India and Pakistan. It is difficult for China to leave Pakistan but for China, India is also very important.
  • President Jiang Zemin had said that there is a need for a balanced approach towards both India and Pakistan.
  • The debate around the Gwadar port has been ongoing. There is need to wait and watch as to who takes over the port after the Singaporean authority moves out. There are speculations that Gwadar port may become a naval base.
  • There is need to highlight the role which China plays in the domestic politics of Pakistan, especially after the Lal Masjid incident. In the long run, Operation Geronimo can prove to be a turning point in the China Pakistan relations.
  • There is need to focus on a research question and focus more on ideas of a two-front war. The debates around stapled visas should be left out of the paper.
  • There is need to also highlight the understanding of the new leadership in China and their understanding of the China Pakistan relations.
  • India should work towards building more military to military level interaction with Pakistan.
  • India needs to learn to manage the relationship with China and Pakistan keeping in perspective the close ties between the two.

Report prepared by Gunjan Singh, Research Assistant, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.