Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Is America Losing Pakistan to China?

Posted by K.E. White on March 27, 2007

Syed Mohammad Ali’s take on India and Pakistan’s place on the geo-strategic chess board:
 

Pakistan is thus keen on developing even closer ties with China. Ignored by the US, Pakistan is now undertaking nuclear energy cooperation with China. There are plans to build six more nuclear reactors, besides the one already built with Chinese help in Chasma. China has helped Pakistan build the Gawadar deep-sea port as well. For Pakistan, Gwadar’s distance from India is of strategic importance. Gwadar also provides China a foothold in the Arabian Sea, which heightens India’s feeling of encirclement by China. But China is currently more interested in getting a strategic foothold near the Persian Gulf region, vis-à-vis the US. China is in fact on a path of rapprochement with India, but unlike the US it remains more cautious about not sidelining Pakistan in this process.

There are internal compulsions requiring greater cooperation despite the lingering tensions between previously hostile neighbours. Cooperation in the energy sector to fuel economic growth is one such example, although this example is not free of contentions either. One of the proposed projects is a gas pipeline between Pakistan, Iran and India, and Turkmenistan, India and Afghanistan, respectively. Many experts have opined that there is no evidence of huge quantities of gas in Turkmenistan to justify the laying of a pipeline. Besides, the government in Kabul is in no position to guarantee the security of such a pipeline. Moreover, it would be difficult to raise finances for such a risky project in Western financial markets, even though the US is more in favour of this pipeline than one going through Iran.

 

Besides an escalation of violence in Afghanistan and creating more turmoil in Pakistan, another immediate consequence of a strike on Iran as part of a broadening of the US ‘war against terror’ would be a humanitarian crisis in terms of the movement of refugees into the Herat, Farah and Nimruz provinces of Afghanistan, and towards Balochistan in Pakistan. An influx of Irani refugees into Afghanistan would no doubt destablise an already fragile Afghan government. Already, Pakistan has announced that all 2.4 million Afghan refugees must return home by 2009, despite the Afghan government’s inability to ensure their adequate resettlement.

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