By Ali Abbas
Whenever a colossal state trolls around the complex spiral of a domineering propinquity, the other tiny state treads the complex trajectory of balancing by employing the third sizable one to contrive a troika in a hope to guard its national interests. The recent Saudi on guard into CPEC aptly hints at the above-mentioned Pakistan’s art of balancing to keep China off keel.
The extraordinary development of the last week binges with the PM Khan’s 2-day visit to the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) on the one hand in sync with simultaneous 3-day tour of China by COAS Gen Bajwa on the other. Though the government has not yet disclosed the bulk of investments Saudis are going to make, unconfirmed reports reveal about $10 billion encashment for construction of an Oil City at the strategic port of Gwadar. It’s indeed a huge respite for a cash-strapped country by the oil-rich kingdom.
An important economic partnership with the KSA vis-à-vis China is on the cards next month as the high level Saudi delegation’s visit, including the treasury and energy ministers, to Pakistan is due. Saudi entrance veritably provides a lure for other countries to join CPEC. Indeed a big boost to Pakistan’s economy when investors will exponentially grow.
Pakistan is playing dexterously on diplomatic front. It seems like fortifying internal security and economic interests are the key-notes of Khan’s foreign policy. In this concurrent civ-mil-duo-visit to both China and the KSA, military diplomacy playing with finesse is conspicuous as sine qua non for the boasted civil stature in the world. At least, we are finally, for now, out of the fuss called civil-military to boost security and economic narrative up from one page.
Saudi entrance into CPEC portrays the badass maneuvering by Pakistan to stack the KSA and China up in a way to reap its due share by the crisscross of both. In fact it’s perfectly a win-win for the entire triplet. The CPEC will not only provide China cheap access to Africa and the Middle East but will also bag Pakistan billions of dollars to provide transit facilities to the world’s titanic economy. With Saudi inclusion, CPEC as an epitome of myths—”debt-trap for Pakistan”, “neo-Sino-colonialism” et al-gains death-knell for the highest rate of returns which Pakistan is already poised to get from China besides Riyadh’s mint to boost its oil exports. In shape of the KSA, the CPEC gets another lucrative partner to eye at China so that benefited the all three. Indeed with KSA’s induction, apart from trilateral trade boost, CPEC is being morphed into a new regional economic troika.
Another important facet of this latest Saudi touch: there’s nothing for China to take it with the grain of salt as the whole exercise has been culminated with China’s consent. Army Chief assured the Chinese top leadership of “no change” in the swift execution of CPEC despite the recent change of guards in Pakistan as the aftermaths of July 25 polls. For China was apprehensive due to the previous track-record of governments on account of corruption charges. But now all sounds optimistic. Washington and Delhi enjoy the convivial diplomatic relations with the kingdom. So it’s not easy for both to oppose the project in wake of Saudi’s entrance as it will pave the way for other wealthy Gulf States including the UAE and Kuwait. Modi’s itching in terms of back-out from Indo-Pak dialogue is quite understandable in this background. Iran will also be compelled to join CPEC as the short-term Indo-Iran honeymoon in terms of Chabahar is about to over on account of Trump-Modi cozy up. Moreover, Pakistan under the umbrella of CPEC might be instrumental for the solidarity of Islamic world that’s to put the schism between the KSA and Iran to screeching halt.
Perhaps history is drifting apart from the west. For centuries, fame and fortunes were to be found in the west. Today, it’s the east which summons all in search of riches and adventure. Sweeping right across Russia, Central Asia and deep into China and Indo-Pakistan, a region that once took center stage is again rising to dominate global politics, commerce and culture. CPEC is indeed a tiptop of the mechanics that will determine the flow of ideas and goods by heralding a new dawn in international affairs. Maybe the veracious pull of petro-dollars galloping along CPEC instead of the New World of the America (now not-much-new). Amazingly nature is making Pakistan advantageous due to its geo-strategic location which is a beacon of change in East. Without the peaceful and placid Pakistan, the balance of trade and cash-flow in East is a far-farther dream. Lo and behold! Welcome to the new balancer of the east.