The current geo-strategic perspective Pakistan has been set in offers Pakistan many opportunities related to foreign policy options. If newly elected government- which has wide-spread public support to deal with gigantic internal and external issues- enables itself to cash on these opportunities, Pakistan would be put on the right track to become a major regional power. But if these opportunities are missed out for some other short-sighted economic and political considerations, Pakistan would be a net loser.
Pakistan’s geography has offered it great opportunities to emerge as a major economic and political power in the regions of Central Asia and West Asia. In order to cash on these opportunities, Pakistan would have to subordinate its relations with India to these opportunities which need to be actualized by diverting Pak’s import and export resources to these regions including China instead of diverting such resources to India.
China’s oil demand is continuously increasing and by the end of 2012 Chinese oil imports have exceeded that of USA’s whose oil imports are declining due to recession and due to greater home oil production. In 2013, China’s oil imports would reach 60% of its total demand; this import rate would further grow in coming years due to further depletion in China’s home resources. Presently China’s more than 50% crude oil imports are coming from the Middle East. Gawadar is the shortest possible route from Gulf Straits to China. That is why China while managing this port would be interested to link it by road or railways to China. Consequently Pakistan would become a vanguard to Chinese imports from the Gulf.
Similarly China is destined to overtake soon Russia and USA as a dominating foreign power in Central Asia politically as well as economically; China is investing a lot in Central Asian economies. This policy is leading China and Central Asia to mutual dependence. Pakistan also may connect Gawadar Port to Central Asian states through roads or railways links through Afghanistan so that Central Asian states may make use of Gawadar Port.
Thus Gawadar Port Project may link closely economies of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Central Asia; this mutual economic interdependence would lead to political cooperation as well. Similarly Pak-Iran Gas Project would link closely both states economically and politically, and such economic and political collaboration would strengthen further the regional economic and political collaboration forged out of Gawadar Port Project.
This likely regional economic and political collaboration emerging out of these two projects may have far reaching implications.
One implication is this regional cooperation would enable Pakistan to come out of USA’s clutches economically and politically. Once Pakistan gets out of USA’s influence and adopts independent foreign policy, Pakistan may amass lot of political and economic support using its geographical and nuclear status in the comity of world nations.
Another implication is because Middle East is becoming the greatest source of crude oil for China, this fact is compelling China to assume greater role in the Middle East. Pakistan may play its role to extend the likely regional cooperation to bring in its fold the Middle East as well.
Another implication is that Pakistan would be in stronger position to resolve its issues including Kashmir with India. India would not be able to become a part of this likely regional economic cooperation without Pakistan’s consent, thus giving Pakistan a leverage in connection with resolution of mutual issues.
Another most important implication is this futuristic Regional Cooperation scenario also determines basic framework of Pak-India relations particularly economic relations. Pakistan needs to divert its economic resources (imports+exports) to this futuristic Regional Cooperation between Pak, China, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia, if Pakistan wants to be a part of this Regional Cooperation and wants to cash on the opportunities offered by this Regional Cooperation. It would mean this Regional Cooperation block would be the first choice for Pakistan to employ its economic resources into, and India would be secondary choice in this regard. Such a scenario would favor Pakistan in another way too. If Pakistan employs major chunk of its economic resources (imports+exports) into the Regional Cooperation states, Pakistan would be free to exert maximum pressure on India to resolve mutual issues; but if Pakistan employs a major chunk of its economic resources in India, Pakistan would be obliged to come along India’s terms to settle mutual issues.
We may conclude that Pakistan’s geography has presented Pakistan with great opportunities to emerge as a major regional power in the Central Asia and West Asia. Pakistan would be able to actualize these opportunities, if Pakistan adopts ‘Look Westward’ policy; such a policy leads Pakistan to carve out a Regional Economic and Political Cooperation with China, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran, and employ major chunk of its economic resources into this Regional Cooperation. Later on West Asia (Gulf States) may also be brought into fold of this Regional Cooperation. This ‘Look Westward’ policy would favor Pakistan in settling its mutual issues with India.
If Pakistan adopts ‘Look Eastward’ policy, Pakistan would miss out those glorious opportunities to become a major regional power; such a policy makes Pakistan to employ major chunk of its economic resources (imports+exports) into India. This ‘Look Eastward’ policy would favor India and oblige Pakistan to resolve mutual issues with India more on Indian terms.