The first-round between China and US, from the past couple of months, has gone to the US side, as surely and certainly a lot is happening in terms of geo-politics, a change in what is called as ‘an old guard’ is taking place, as new blocs are getting formed and new formulations are in vogue, to be put forward, for the world to find, particularly, since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the world. If the series of the events are to be enumerated, which have proved to change the political streams in the world, then for sure, it was US president Donald Trump, who took Pakistan PM Imran Khan ‘for a ride’ when he on July 22, 2019 1 told Imran Khan that Indian PM Modi has asked him to ‘mediate’ on Kashmir, and again on August 2, 2019 2 reiterated the K word that he would like to intervene on Kashmir if India and Pakistan wanted. Modi panicked and finished-off the Special status accorded to JK&L under Article 370 on August 5, 2019 3. A single move, which was to turn the events in history of the world, is what is going-on since then. ‘The step of Narendra Modi government on August 5, abrogating the Article 370 of Jammu and Kashmir, is going to alter the internal and external politics of the country for at least the next fifty years,’ I had written on August 10, 2019, five days hence in Countercurrents 4.
Imran Khan, who could barely hide his glee on July 23, 2019, when he accorded to Trump ‘a billion people’s prayers’ if he resolved Kashmir issue 5 had to cut a sorry figure as after the abrogation of Article 370, Modi made a visit to a gala welcome in US on Sep 22, 2019 6 and Modi and Trump regaled before the world and very soon Trump reciprocated to Modi by visiting Delhi on Feb 22, 2020 7. Kashmir had been thrown to the backburner as the head of the only ‘super-power’ walked hand-in-hand with Modi. But, a challenge to US and India was also coming as China and Pakistan, embittered by India’s move, were together when China supported the issue of Kashmir raised by Pakistan in UN Security Council for thrice in the last year 8. Pakistan wanted Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to support Kashmir inside Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) for which KSA had drawn cold-feet and wary of KSA Pakistan foreign minister SM Qureshi announced, on August 6 9 , 2020 that Pakistan was to convene a meeting of council of foreign ministers on Kashmir outside OIC, which signaled that Malaysia, Turkey, Qatar, Iran and Pakistan, with the support of China and Russia were into forming a new bloc, and which, enraged the KSA crown-prince MbS that he sought the loan of 1 billion USD given to Pakistan be returned, which Pakistan paid, with the help of China, followed by stopping the supply of oil on deferred loan to Pakistan, MbS took the loan back and invested in India and announced annulment of investments in China and invested in India instead 10 . What all was happening through MbS, was of course, to the manipulations of US, as MbS has been personally issued a summon by a US court on August 11, 2020 10, that he tried to get killed his intelligence officer Saad Al Jabri, on the lines of which Jamal Khashogi was killed. KSA and UAE have threatened to Pakistan to desist from romancing with a new bloc or else its expatriates are to be packed-off to it. Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa went running to KSA to salvage the ties on August 17, 2020 11, two days later on August 20, 2020 12 Qureshi went to China, thus, all signaled that something anew was to be on the anvil.
Things were moving ‘thick and fast’ as US accused its strongest ally KSA to be hunting for ‘nuclear-weapons’ with the help of China 13 on August 4, 2020, the same day when Beirut blasts happened, to subjugate KSA for no end, and so intimated the Gulf-states became that only ten days later UAE, with the entire support of KSA , announced formal-relations with Israel 14 ( on August 14, 2020) which was to snigger at Pakistan’s independence day, as Pakistan and Iran are the only two nations which have a strong stand towards Israel. Pakistan was to be isolated and that is what USA, through KSA wanted, as Pakistan was thenceforth ‘not-required’ for the job in Afghanistan has been done, where the beleaguered US army was forced to sit with the same Afghan-Taliban across the table against which it had waged a twenty-year war! Only US could stem such a humiliation.
Pakistan is yet to convene the meeting, Turkey is already scuttled in a tussle with Greece, Iran is battered with threats from Israel and US alike and China is locked up with US in its South China Sea as well as with India in the Himalayas. Israel is making an ‘intelligence-base’ at Socotra Island, Yemen 15 , to keep a watchful eye on Gwadar Port, Pakistan, which is likely to become the business-hub of future, as China is to carry out its exports from there. This is how the first-round has gone to the advantage of US as all the adversaries of US are frustrated, to the advantage of US and allies, which very much include India. It is in this situation, and to balance the moves of China yet, in South China Sea, US has propounded a group on the lines of NATO.
US released its Pentagon report on September 2, 2020 16 to let the whole world know about the growing China power, in which US too has been left behind in some corners, and acting fast to the prevalent currents, US has taken into confidence Japan and has announced a formation of QUAD on the lines of NATO, which would include Australia, Japan, India and US to counter Beijing 15. The importance given to the project can be felt as US made its No.2 diplomat, Deputy Secretary of State Stephan Biegun to announce it (QUAD) on the lines of NATO or European Union as a counter to China in Indo-Pacific region. ‘There is certainly an invitation there at some point to formalize a structure like this,” he said. Known officially as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the grouping is an informal strategic forum of the four democracies that holds semiregular summits and joint military drills, and discusses regional economic and development assistance. It is often credited as the brainchild of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose August 2007 speech titled “Confluence of the Two Seas” provided the foundations for the grouping’ 17 , published in The Times of Japan on September 1, 2020.
This news on QUAD came a day earlier to the Pentagon report and US made its diplomat say that US would strategise to push back China in virtually every domain and QUAD is but a part of the overall initiative to contain China. ‘For the first time in the Quad’s history, the stars are aligning for a harder line on China, and the implications going forward could be significant,” said a senior defense analyst “Most importantly, Quad resolve would also no longer be symbolic, but concrete, and this should enhance the deterrence value of the group toward China,” he wrote. Biegun also explicitly noted that “the Quad isn’t exclusive” to the four countries currently involved’ 18.
It becomes increasingly clear that a new bloc is round the corner and if India or China or Pakistan would go for a war, it would be construed to be a war with Japan, Australia and US, and all the QUAD nations would jointly come to the rescue of each other, and this is what India can rightly expect as it is ranged against both China and Pakistan. Other nations which are to follow in QUAD membership are likely to be Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, with Israel as a formidable buddy to add to the strength of US.
How China and Russia will counter this US move is for the time to tell, but certainly the first-round has added to the stimulus of US where India is very clearly heading for an advantage over China and Pakistan. Will Pakistan abandon OIC and scoff-off from KSA, as it is very much that KSA and UAE are to throw-back its citizens from their lands very soon as Israel is now to call the shots from the Gulf-states. It is at this juncture the world is never so poised for a spark which might trigger an all-out-war-in-the-world, as a small nation like Philippine has daunted China that it would invite US navy to its rescue if China threatens its sovereignty 19