[Editorial Analysis] For new Pak army chief, it’s the economy, stupid

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Geo-Economic Initiative
Mains level: India and its Neighbourhood Relations

Context:

• Recent speech of Pakistan Army chief Javed Bajwa triggered debate on geo-economics vis-à-vis peace process with India.

DeCluttering Army Chief Speech:

• His call for “burying the past” with India and moving on is realization that time has come for Pakistan to relook at the weakening economic foundation of its national security.
• Recent event of ceasefire holding agreement with India created optimism about the prospects for dialogue between two countries.
• But the prospects of medium-term peace process, depends on convincing Pakistan’s elite strategic policy community which see above approach as an unacceptable political compromise.

Why is it unacceptable?

• In the view of Ashraf Qazi (former Pak Diplomat), Bajwa’s “geo-economic initiative towards a hegemonic and intransigent India is indicative of lack of options “.
• In simple terms, it is a defeat that can’t be dressed up in geo-economics.
• But for the elite that brought up celebrating Pakistan’s geopolitical advantage at the crossroads of the Subcontinent, China, Central Asia and Gulf.
• Because reversing Delhi’s 2019 actions on Kashmir must remain a precondition for any engagement with India.

Need for Geo-Economic Initiative:

• At present, Pakistan stares at two disconcerting facts
• It’s longstanding neglect of geo-economics.
• The steady erosion of it’s geopolitical significance in the 21st century.

On economic front:

• Decline of economic relation with India (i.e., India’ aggregate GDP=$2.8 trillion, whereas Pakistan’s =$280 billion), profoundly indicates that it is difficult for Pakistan’s long-standing claim for strategic parity with India
• Similarly, it also lost ground to Bangladesh in economic front, Bangladesh from a very poorer nation in 1971, has emerged today as regional economic power with aggregate and per capita GDP larger than Pakistan.

On strategic front:

• Since 1947 to 1971, Pakistan has sense of parity with India in all fronts. But with 1971 Bangla liberation undermined Pakistan’s notion of parity with India.
• Although in 1990s, with acquisition of nuclear weapons and Washington’s focus on non-proliferation restored and reinforced the sense of symmetry and parity between both nations. This new leverage blindfolded Pakistan in seeing long term consequences.
• At the turn of 20th century, Washington changed its stance and started looking up for India as critical to the construction of Asian stability disrupted by China’s rise.
• Coupled with above, India’s high growth rates during 90s and Pakistan’s Economic slowdown transformed, India as pivot to American south Asian policy.
• In Afghanistan issue,
1. Pakistan failed to translate the four decadal leverage with major powers into economic gains.
2. At same time, it become victim of religious extremism that destabilized Afghanistan.
3. Irrespective of US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan bound to lose its leverages and find difficult to insulate from Afghanistan’s deepening instability.
• Pakistan’s role of net security provider, its religious identity, leading role in Islamic world and military support to Gulf made it as important actor in gulf and indo-pacific but with its unending financial dependence and straining ties with India steadily diminished its role to just another undeveloped nation.

On China front:

• Five decades ago, when Sino-US relations has normal bilateral ties, Pakistan was seen as important bridge by both that benefited Pakistan.
• Currently, Pakistan is at cross roads in balancing China’s and US relations.
• Pakistan desire to rebalance with US made them to underscore CPEC importance but west still sees Pakistan through CPEC prism.

Conclusion:

• The strategy of balancing India with the help of China, Gulf and US is under increasing stress amidst the shifting regional and global equations.
• Time has come when West and Gulf pushing Pakistan to reorient its India policy in more positive direction.
• Though Delhi may not directly influence Pakistan’s geo-economic policy but it can make a difference by welcoming the important strategic opportunity.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the amicus curiae, consider the following statements:
1. An amicus curiae is someone who is not a party to a case who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case.
2. The amicus curiae figure originates in English law.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A

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