A deepening alliance
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There were no dramatic announcements from the meeting between the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, late last week in the Chinese island province ( a principal administrative division of a country or empire ) of Hainan. It was about the further consolidation ( the action or process of making something stronger or more solid ) of the all-weather partnership between Islamabad and Beijing across a broadening ( become larger in distance from side to side; widen ) range of issues —from economic and commercial to the political and security.
What makes this round of Sino-Pak strategic dialogue significant is the rapid deterioration ( the process of becoming progressively worse ) of India-China ties amidst ( surrounded by; in the middle of ) the unresolved military standoff ( a deadlock between two equally matched opponents in a dispute or conflict ) in eastern Ladakh. India has had to cope with the consequences of the China-Pak partnership that can be traced back to the mid 1950s.
Yet, Delhi has continuously underestimated the deepest sources animating it. To make matters worse, Delhi has always over-determined the prospects for its own partnership with China and its ability to transcend ( be or go beyond the range or limits of (a field of activity or conceptual sphere) ) the Sino-Pak alliance.
For Delhi, the immediate concern is about intensive ( concentrated on a single subject or into a short time; very thorough or vigorous ) Sino-Pak political coordination on Kashmir. China has lent strong support to Islamabad’s efforts to mobilise international condemnation ( the expression of very strong disapproval; censure ) of Delhi’s constitutional changes in Kashmir since late last year. The joint statement issued after the talks between Wang and Qureshi saw China reaffirm ( confirm the validity of (something previously established) ) its criticism of India’s “unilateral actions” in Kashmir.
As part of the commitment on both sides to support the “core interests” of the other, Pakistan expressed support for China’s repression ( the action of subduing someone or something by force ) of the majority Muslim community in Beijing’s far western province of Xinjiang. The point here is not about Pakistan’s double standards in raising human rights concerns about Kashmir and supporting China in Xinjiang. Hypocrisy ( the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case ) is very much part of international relations.
The real story is about the deep foundations of the Sino-Pak alliance ( a union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations ) that transcend religion and are tied to shared interests of the two nations in containing India.India, however, has been reluctant ( unwilling and hesitant; disinclined ) to confront this central reality — which continues to express itself in multiple ways.
These range from the construction of the Karakoram Highway through Kashmir in the 1970s to the expansive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor of the present and from Beijing’s nuclear and missile assistance to Pakistan in the 1980s to the integration ( the intermixing of people who were previously segregated ) of Pakistani naval forces and bases into China’s ambitious Indian Ocean strategy.
Even as it fends ( look after and provide for oneself, without any help from others ) off their coordinated attempt to put India in the international dock on Kashmir, Delhi must prepare for a full range of other contingencies ( a future event or circumstance which is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty ) — from Sino-Pak joint support to insurgent ( a person fighting against a government or invading force; a rebel or revolutionary ) groups in India’s Northeast to probing ( inquiring closely into something; searching ) India’s other internal, regional and international vulnerabilities ( the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally ). Recognising the challenge of the Sino-Pak alliance is necessarily the first step in any Indian strategy to cope with it in the days ahead.