China-India-Pakistan - What is the Future? Post-Cold War Analysis

China-India-Pakistan - What is the Future? Post-Cold War Analysis

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The Cold War has been over for more than thirty  years but despite some rather dubious claims   to the contrary, history has certainly not  ended. The events of the present are rooted   firmly in the past and so we are taking a  look at some present geopolitical hotspots   to give an explanation of current events, how  they came to be, and some possible outcomes   going forward. This week, we are going to examine  the relationships between the Panda, the Tiger,   and the Markhor…China, India, and  Pakistan. This is…The Post-Cold War! We live in a global and interconnected world and  there is often an expectation of being able to   access information about anything, from anywhere.  Sometimes though, we run into virtual borders that   stop us from getting to what we need. And  there is always the concern about keeping  

you and your personal data safe and secure.  Fortunately, for both of these things, there   is Surfshark VPN. Surfshark VPN lets you choose  what country you want your device to appear in,   letting you travel around the world and encrypts  all the information between your device and the   internet while doing so. Do you really want to  watch Shadowhunters but can’t because you are  

in the US? Surfshark lets you appear in the UK so  you can watch. Surfshark not only encrypts your   online data, helping keep you safe, but also  doesn’t monitor, track, or store what you do,   so no connection or activity logs! Surfshark  offers a 30-day money-back guarantee,   meaning there’s no risk to try it so Get  Surfshark VPN at   and enter promo code COLDWAR to get  83% off & 3 extra months for FREE! 2022 was a rollercoaster year in South and  East Asian geopolitics. Xi Jinping solidified   his control of the Chinese Communist Party while  also initiating a series of reforms. In Pakistan,   Imran Khan was ousted by the army and then almost  assassinated. In India meanwhile, Narendra Modi   has been carefully playing a balancing game  between India’s long-standing relationship with   Russia, while buying arms from the United States. These three behemoths, each with their own proud  

histories, have been involved in a bizarre  threeway relationship since the late 1940s.   India and Pakistan are direct regional rivals  with reasons for their mutual animosity towards   each other including ideology, geopolitics and  specifically, the status of Jammu and Kashmir.   At the same time Pakistan has a booming economic  relationship with China while China and India   are engaging in their own rivalry over unsettled  border disputes, as well as competing for economic   influence across Africa and Asia. The evolving  and competing relationships between China,   India and Pakistan are going to be one of the  defining fields of 21st Century geopolitics,   so understanding those relationships will  be key to understanding possible outcomes.  

So, what is the past and present landscape  of these relationships? What does the future   hold? How do the internal dynamics of these  three states affect their foreign relations,   and how does this then fit into the  rest of the world? Let’s take a look.  We’re going to start with a few disclaimers. This  is by no means an exhaustive contextualization.   The 20th Century history of all three states  is INCREDIBLY complicated, as you’ve no doubt   discovered from other videos the Channel has  done on these regions. To start, India and  

Pakistan are the products of the partition of the  British Raj in 1947, the result of disagreements   between the political elites of Imperial India  on the nature of a future Indian state. India   was set to be a majoritarian secular state, while  Pakistan was a home and a safe haven for Muslims.   A war between the two newly independent states  ensued over the territory of Jammu and Kashmir,   with India citing its historic claims to  Kashmir as well as links to elites and   local Hindus living there, while Pakistan cited  its links to the majority Muslim population.   Kashmir itself is religiously diverse, though  the majority of the population is Muslim.   Movements advocating independence  for Kashmir or calling for it to   join either Pakistan or India were discussed,  but never amounted to much due to the Maharaja   of Kashmir asking for autonomy inside India. Another major reason for Indo-Pakistani tension,   and this is for the more geopolitically  and Marxistically minded amongst you,   is the presence of mineral resources such as the  entirety of India’s Sapphires supply, as well as   the source of major rivers which just happen to  provide much of the water for Pakistan. Kashmir,  

Jammu and Ladakh were split between the two  countries, with China also taking a small slice.  Now, on the other side of the Himalayas, the  People’s Republic of China was established   in 1949, and gained control over Tibet in the  early 1950s, securing its own infrastructural   and water security, but gaining a border  with India and Pakistan in the process.   Initially, India and China had the Five Principles  of Coexistence and as joint Third World countries,   appeared to have somewhat cordial relations.  However, unresolved border disputes and buffer   states led to a war in between India and  China in 1962 which ended in Indian defeat.  As time went on in the later 20th Century, we  see major geopolitical shifts. India gradually  

moved from the Western sphere of influence to  become a key member of the non-Aligned Movement,   while cultivating relations with the USSR. China  split the global socialist world in two during the   Sino-Soviet split and even ended up collaborating  with the United States during conflicts like   the Cambodian Civil War. Pakistan, which had a  pro-Western foreign policy, linked to America,   fought a brutal genocidal war against East  Pakistan, which broke off with India’s help In   1971, to form the independent state of Bangladesh.  In Kashmir, Indian control became more repressive,   leading to first a secular socialist insurgency,  followed then by an Islamist insurgency,   the latter of which was co opted by Pakistan. Pakistan domestically began to shift towards   Islamist and regionalist movements, while the Army  intervened not-so-clandestinely in Afghanistan and   then moved to project its power in Central Asia in  the 1980s and 1990s. This movement is linked with  

a struggle between the military deep state and  populist clans of politicians in cycles of coups.  China opened up to global markets under Deng  Xiaoping and has become an economic behemoth,   developing many relations with Africa and Asia,  and then becoming more assertive under Xi Jinping.   Pakistan during this time also became  friendly with China, which was at times   still quite antagonistic towards India while at  other times tried to balance between the two.  India for its part, faced neoliberal reforms  which partially affected its industrial   sector. Eventually, the far-right  BJP came to power first in 1999,   and then from 2014 to the present, under the  leadership of Narendra Modi, whose policies have   become increasingly Islamophobic and neoliberal. All three states face internal regional movements;   in India there are Naxalite movements in the  east, who operate with some Chinese support,   while in Kashmir, Islamist movements operate  with backing from Pakistan. In Pakistan, there  

is unrest in Baluchistan, where China is building  a large port facility in the city of Gwadar.   Pakistan also faces anti-government movements  from the Pakistani Taliban and Pashtun community   primarily located in the north of the country.  China faces regionalist opposition movements in   Xinjiang Province as well as Tibet, with the  latter having a long-time government-in-exile   hosted in India. All three countries are both  regional and global players, although China   is the undisputed champion of global outreach and  influence. India is a major trading partner which   has increasingly looked westward, while Pakistan  has been locked in more moderate geopolitical   ploys in Southern and Central Asia, balancing  itself between the United States and China. 

Let’s now look at present-day India specifically.  The country has seen a remarkable and for many,   a troubling shift in recent years, one  that has both internal and geopolitical   implications. Narendra Modi’s BJP, a right-wing  Hindu nationalist party, has established its   hegemony over large parts of the Indian state.  Modi has done this by increasing implementation  

of neoliberal policies, as well as trying to  imitate the Chinese miracle. As could be expected,   these neoliberal reforms have further solidified  and exacerbated many of the inherent economic and   social inequalities in India. Modi faced strikes  against reforms that would weaken unions as part   of his “Build in India” initiative, as well as  a massive 2021 strike against agrarian reform,   the largest strike in recorded history. This  historic opposition however goes up against the   BJP’s increasingly militant and highly organized  social structures. Writer and author Arundhati Roy  

describes how the BJP has wings for all castes,  allowing it to throw a very wide net in terms   of the support it draws in. This allows them to  mobilize a massive number of voters, and trolls,   against their enemies. The once-dominant Indian  National Congress has significantly weakened,   and the other parties on the left are mainly  regional in nature. This domestic strength gives   Modi a lot more leeway when operating abroad. Geopolitically, the BJP is playing catch-up to   China. Initiatives with Japan and with Australia  aiming to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative   have seen limited success, but India can still  leverage its position using two cards. One is  

its soft power, through its cultural influence  especially with its large global diaspora, and the   other is its relations with the United States and  Russia. India’s participation in the Quadrilateral   Security Dialogue, a joint security initiative  with Japan, Australia and the United States,   is now key to Modi’s foreign policy and has been  followed by recent arms purchases from the United   States. All this is being done to counter Chinese  influence, and, especially given the U.S. Pivot to   Asia, India will no doubt keep its focus there. What this does not do however, is address the   ongoing Indo-Chinese border disputes. These  disputes have a tendency to flare up when  

infrastructure projects in the border regions  begin, as happened in December 2022. Modi is   likely to continue moving his foreign policy  towards the United States, potential allies   against China, but this will certainly strain  his relationship with Putin’s Russia. This is   a relationship that Modi cannot completely break  off though, as Russia still supplies India with   weapons and military equipment. Russia also serves  as a mediator with China in places such as Central  

Asia, and Indian public opinion strongly favours  at least non-alignment, if not support for Russia,   as is being seen in the war in Ukraine. How Modi will navigate this balance is difficult   to say, but rivalry with China and Pakistan is  more likely to increase. Kashmir’s autonomy was   revoked in 2019, and Modi has looked to shift  public perception and discourse surrounding   Kashmir, changing it from ‘The Rose in India’s  Bouquet’ to a supposed haven of Islamic extremism.   Modi is likely to strengthen Indias hold on the  region to ensure continued access to its precious   minerals as well as being able to leverage  water-rights over Pakistan. This has two potential   implications though. One is that Pakistan’s  rivalry with India will continue, but now there   is an added rivalry as to who will show themselves  to be a more reliable partner to the U.S.  

The second is that Modi will try to accelerate  land reforms which would allow Indian capital   to further penetrate and solidify economic control  over Kashmir. The infrastructure-building projects   that Modi uses for legitimacy, including those in  the less-connected and less-developed Northeast,   link to regions such as the nine "strategic"  rail lines, including the Missamari-Tenga-Tawang   line and the Bilaspur-Mandi-Manali-Leh  sections. Others strategic positions,   like the Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in Ladakh,  will be used to solidify control over Kashmir,   but with its position being so close to the  Chinese border, these are likely to be contentious   hotspots as the two rivals compete for hegemony. Now, Xi’s China has moved a long way away from  

both Mao’s tenets and Deng’s pragmatism.  It is in fact, a mixture of both,   and this naturally has implications for  its relations with India and Pakistan.   Xi has centralised his power and control during  the most recent Communist Party Congress, but has   faced increasing challenges on both the economic  and geopolitical fronts. Xi’s consolidation   came from carefully preparing and isolating his  factional rivalries with other Party officials.   One important tool in this internal struggle  has been the politicisation of corruption.  

As was counselled by the late Michael Brooks,  Corruption is about power, not institutions,   and China is no exception. Xi’s anti-Corruption  campaign has leveraged Chinese public opinions   of corruption amongst local party officials, in  order to make himself appear more legitimate.  China’s economic model, which has been based  now for decades on a mixture of Western capital   combined with state intervention, has  seen skyrocketing growth, but this has   been done at the cost of the creation of many  corporations which have become too big to fail,   with the property-development company Evergrande  being a prime example. The Chinese model is now   facing the difficulty of transitioning to  a high-income economy, and this includes   tackling inequality. Xi has announced many  nation-building efforts in the cultural sphere,  

as well as economic alleviation measures to reduce  inequality. He has also used the state apparatus   to promote national ‘unity’ by clamping down  on separatism in Xinjiang with harsh cruelty,   particularly focused on the Uighyer minority. All of these things have geopolitical   implications. China can, just as easily as  India, try to export instability or inequality   by strengthening nationalist sentiment abroad  as well as going on geopolitical adventurism.   However, for Xi this is more likely to occur in  the South China Sea than along the Indian border.   China is, keep in mind, steadfastly devoted to two  things; ensuring what it sees as its territorial   integrity, and the advancement of its own sphere  of influence in the model of double consumption;   protecting internal markets while  expanding industrial markets outwards.  

This makes Tibet and Xinjiang essential, and  this is why China will likely continue to build   infrastructure in the region, ramping tensions  with India in the process. Neither side seems   willing at this moment to settle on the matter. With regards to the Belt and Road initiative,   which has become an increasingly unwieldy and  overly ambitious project, Pakistan will be a key   ally in projects such as the Gwadar Port. China  is likely to continue to court Pakistan and try   to invest in its economy to gain influence,  as it will not only build another bridge to   Central Asia, but also give it port-access on  the Indian Ocean, helping to isolate India.   China is not often willing to get directly  involved in the spats of other countries, but this   is close to its borders and there is potential for  spillover. Balochi separatists consider Chinese   presence in Balochistan to be an occupation and  have attacked Chinese outposts as a result. The  

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a series of  infrastructure projects that have been ongoing   since 2014, have been part of this quid pro quo  strategy. They also serve as a counterweight to   the policies of the Quad, and a way to maintain an  ally in this Asian threesome. Maybe don’t google   that particular phrase at work. The success of  this Corridor is contingent on China’s continuous  

investment, which it has continued to provide.  However, China also has to deal with secessionist   movements in the region, like the Balochis  around the Gwadar Port. To deal with this,   China has brought in its own workers and even  armed security for many of its projects, cutting   out many local interlocutors and therefore cutting  out a potential source of local support for the   projects. Its infrastructure projects, while still  welcomed by many, require constant investment,   and China will most likely try to solidify its  influence in Pakistan to ensure its survival.  Pakistani politics, influenced and guided by  its deep state, are always prone to the whims   of geopolitics. As noted British-Pakistani  journalist and historian Tariq Ali comments,  

there are two political clans in Pakistan,  the Bhutto-Zanafir and the Sharif families,   each with their own large political parties and  their accompanying corrupt paternalistic networks.   There are also the various regionalist movements,  such as the previously mentioned Balochis and the   Pashtuns, as well as large Islamist movements  which include a disorganized Pakistani Taliban.   These are interestingly, spillovers  from earlier Pakistani attempts to   promote Islamism as a means of power  projection during the Soviet-Afghan War.  

There is also the Army, which includes their  handlers, the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI.  Recently, we have seen Imran Khan, a populist  politician and former cricket team captain, win   an against-the-odds election, relying on a blend  of Islamic values and socialist-leaning policies.   Initially, having the backing of the army, he  pursued an increasingly autonomous foreign policy,   but failed in many of his promises.  Political manoeuvring quickly led to his  

ouster, but he has continued to rally against his  political enemies, including the army, even after   an assassination attempt in November 2022. Corruption and capital have always been at   the heart of Pakistani politics, as the army  claims to be an impartial mediator. The truth   is best summarized by Tariq Ali, who says: “The  country’s political parties rarely change with   the times. Dynastic rule ensures that large  reserves of capital, often illegally acquired,   remain in the family. And the uniformed  umpires at military GHQ in Rawalpindi,   who make and break governments, are provided  with huge grants of land and other perks.” Thus,   the army, which is sensitive to international  pressure, is the key to foreign policy. 

Pakistan is committed to being involved  in Kashmir, supporting the local struggle   for independence on its own narrow terms as  the alleged protector of the Kashmiri Muslim   population. However, when it comes to its  relationship to China or the United States,   the stakes are much more nebulous. Pakistan will  certainly continue to trade and build relations   with China, however the US is increasingly  been seen as a new partner to India while   simultaneously becoming more skeptical of  Pakistan. The army will do its best to tread  

the fine line between the two superpowers while  still working against India. However, the country   is increasingly fractured and polarizing, with  brutal government crackdowns against Balochi and   Pashtun movements, both armed and unarmed, which  will undoubtedly create even more difficulty.  Corruption, perennially untackled, means local  populations may not see the benefits of Chinese   infrastructure projects, and Xinjiang’s  tribulations have also caused suspicion   amongst many Pakistanis. Of course, the same can  be said for American interventions in Pakistan.   The question over who to side with may become  a defining issue in an increasingly polarised   Pakistani society. Khan will certainly use this  against rival factions and blocs, as he has done   previously, as populism is his main counter  against both the nouveau riche capitalists who   bankroll rival parties and the state capitalism  of the Army. Pakistan is likely to remain unstable   for the foreseeable future, leaving it susceptible  to foreign intervention and influence. This could  

lead to the army conducting a coup, a seemingly  time-honoured tradition in Pakistani politics.   An possible alternative could be the unifying  of the country behind a cause like Kashmir or   Xinjiang, but this depends on geo-economic  leverage by either China or America,   or who wins in the polarized power struggle inside  the country and what ideology they may rely on.  So, instability in Pakistan is likely to  continue, the Far-right consolidation of   India is likely to continue, and Communist Party  assertion in China is likely to continue. These  

all have implications for geopolitics. As India  and China increasingly begin to compete directly   for influence in Asia while also building  infrastructure in disputed or unstable regions,   clashes are likely to continue and possibly even  increase. These clashes may also extend to other   geographic areas including the wider Indian Ocean  region. China needs to work to shift its economy  

to ensure longevity and to establish a sphere of  influence for its markets. For that to happen,   both domestic and international stability will  be necessary. As such, its assertiveness and   engagement with Pakistan are chief geopolitical  goals in South Asia. As for Pakistan, it is likely   to be deadlocked, treading a fine line between  China and the United States. India and Pakistan   will continue to be rivals, as the Kashmir  conflict remains at a standstill and local voices   calling for independence there find no backers.  India will continue to use American influence as a  

counterweight just as some Pakistani factions will  do the same in order to gain or maintain power.  Barring a serious dialogue between  these three Asian behemoths,   their intertwined relations are likely to  be subject to power plays between the three,   as each looks to gain the upperhand.  This makes the region a significant   and dangerous hotspot for the foreseeable  future. Nehru and Mao’s Five Principles  

of Co-Existence seem forgotten, in an  era where they are most sorely needed. Get Surfshark VPN at   and enter promo code COLDWAR to get  83% off & 3 extra months for FREE! We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and to  make sure you don't miss our future work,   please make sure you consolidate your power at  home while conducting a foreign policy based on   adventurism, all in the name of defending YOUR  Bell Button . Please consider supporting us on   Patreon at or through  YouTube membership. We can be reached via email   at This is the Cold  War Channel and as we think about the Cold War,   please remember that history is shades  of gray and rarely black and white.

2023-04-05 20:08

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