A ‘concerned’ India looks on as Pakistan ‘nudges’ towards Russia

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By Haider Abbas

The political situation, on international horizon, is undergoing a rapid change and India has every reason to be concerned, owing to its geo-political position, as the situation India’s PM Narendra Modi created by the abrogation of Article 370 in JK&L on August 5, 2019, made China and Pakistan to ‘come-together’ against India. This single immediate move, after Modi assumed to power for the second term, is surely to affect the internal and external politics inside India for the next fifty years. In the latest turn of events it is learnt that Pakistan PM Imran Khan is on to his visit to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in this month.

It may also be known that after the opening of the Beijing ‘political’ winter Olympics where China made every effort to ‘isolate’ India as it chose its Colonel Qi Fabao the torchbearer of Olympic flame, prompting India to boycott ‘opening and closing’ ceremonies, and where Russia and China have expressed a solidarity, for each other, as never before, in terms of Ukraine-Russia and Taiwan-China conflicts, has all set an alarm bell for US and also for India alike, as India is facing heavy odds from China and also has in the last decade, slid from the priority-list of Russia too, all thanks to US. Pakistan, on its side, the once long-term ally of US also does not enjoy its rapport anymore, and has started to look for Russia, with all the due courtesies of China. Both India and Pakistan, worst bête noirs of each other, have had paradigm shifts in their earlier stances, as India had been in the Russian block for more than 50 years and is right now engaged into grooming US.

Imran Khan is the first PM, in the last 23 years who is to visit Moscow on the invitation of Vladimir Putin, and for the record sake, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif (1999) and later Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf ( 2003) had visited Russia, but then owing to Pakistan having had become the principal ally of US in the wake of war against Afghanistan, there was a long lull, and only after China’s act, the thaw could happen. This policy shift from Pakistan perspective assumes more importance as Vladimir Putin and Imran Khan met in Beijing in the presence of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, which is to send a message to US Army, US Establishment and US Congress, that Pakistan is no more to seek US blessings and the long slogan that the triple As-Allah, Army and America is what runs Pakistan is now to be thrown to the backburner. This is what may be called as the official announcement of a major-shift from the Pakistan foreign policy standpoint.

The skeptics would never discount that this move is also to give message from Pakistan to India too, but it may also be the ‘other-way-around’ from Russia’s angle too, as Russia of late has shown many signs of inclination for China at the cost of India, as lately in August 2020 India boycotted the Kavkaz ( in Russia) military exercises as China and Pakistan were participants and in September 2021, when both were just observers, India did send its troops for the military drills in Russia.

A friend’s friend is a friend goes the maxim, hence, Russia’s friend is China and China’s friend is Pakistan, therefore Russian friend is Pakistan too. For India, the possible recourse is enemy’s enemy is a friend, which foretells that US is enemy to Pakistan and Pakistan’s enemy is Israel, therefore Israel is friend to India. The world stands on these clear permutations now. The entire crux of this whole build-up is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and India as well as US, from its beginning have shown strong detestation for it. China wants to build this CPEC so as to reach Gwadar port, which is the tail end in Pakistan province of Baluchistan, so as to make its products reach Mediterranean and European nations and far-off US. It is now clearly understandable that Russia-China-Pakistan are to be the next coalition countries, and the most likely fallout, on Ukraine from Russia, will be a typical non-committal response from Pakistan on it. India too has as yet maintained an equidistance as it abstained from the meeting held on it in UNSC on January 31.

The big issue is how would Russia respond to the new arising situation? As Pakistan is ready to give it access to the warm-waters of the Arabian sea, which will make Russia-Pakistan to have a joint-role, where otherwise had been an Indian monopoly. Why is this happening when Putin had just visited India in the last week of December 2021? Solely perhaps, that India must not have relented its position vis à vis US, which Russia might have sought, despite the unparallel reality that Russia and India are in the same region or else Pakistan was an available option for Russia. The other aspect which has made Russia and Pakistan friendship grow, is Putin’s stand to the Western ridicule of Prophet Muhammed as Putin has openly called, any such step to be a violation of freedom of expression.

Another fallout of this Russian gesture, is that Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and United Arab Emirates(UAE), who have defied US to join the Beijing Olympics, may have a chance to move towards Russia, out of their concerns from Yemen Houthi rebels, for which China may rope-into Iran to stop supporting Houthis, and also for the sake of S-400 missile-system, as lately in September 2019, Putin, in the wake of an attack of KSA oil pipeline, had expressed that if KSA was to have S-400 missile system , the causality was not to have had happened. In this developing geo-strategic position, the all likely benefits tend to go to Pakistan, which also may get Russian S-400 as Putin is also, as a reciprocatory gesture likely to visit Pakistan, and apart from it, Pakistan may also get Chinese J-20 stealth fighters, a mixture of US F-22 and F-35 bombers, from China, so as to make Pakistan remain in pace with India as its proxy. How will India find it so? Even if it makes to US F-35 bombers in the next few years or so.

Now there seem to be a ‘becoming’ of an almost new world position, with India in a very precarious position, as India even when has accrued Russian S-400, despite the official dread of US sanction (lip service though) , yet Putin did not yield, on his visit, as Russia could not see India aligned with US-its sworn enemy, which perhaps has forced Russia to explore the unknown and uncharted waters with Pakistan. Although around 70% of Indian military warfare and hardware has been that of Russian supplies. The next big question which faces India, is what if Russia speaks in favour of China over the issue of Ladakh as China has been meddling with in it since from quite sometime. How ill India strategize on it? All the while as Chinese military build-up is getting ‘more-and-more’ aggressive with each passing day, whether it be in Doklam, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Sikkim etc

No wonder China is moving ahead with what was called as Mao’s five-finger policy, which is to liberate Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Arunachal Pradesh. What will happen is what time would tell, but not before how the elections in UP will reply to BJP for its entire wrong doings.

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