China as a Factor in India and Pakistan Relations

By Mehrish, B. N. | IUP Journal of International Relations, October 2013 | Go to article overview

China as a Factor in India and Pakistan Relations


Mehrish, B. N., IUP Journal of International Relations


The paper analyzes Indo-Pak relations and examines China as a factor in their relations. In Pakistan, there is a transition of power towards democracy, and controversy continues about the political process in the country. Pakistan, created as a model Muslim state based on religious nationalism, after six decades of nationhood suffers from a crisis of governance. China has strong bonds of friendship with Pakistan. The next decade will be crucial for Sino-lndian relations. China is attempting to strike a new strategic balance with India and follows a parallel diplomacy in dealing with India and Pakistan and pays much more importance to strategic and economic relations with its neighbors. Pakistan and China have resisted India's predominance in Asia. Pakistan's alliance with China is a grand alliance between Islamic and Confucian civilizations. China has supported Pakistan's claims over Kashmir, and military incursions into India by the Chinese forces are the major irritants in Sino-India relations. Nawaz Sharif's return to power has been hailed, but critics are skeptical. He has to face several challenges, and peace between India and Pakistan appears to be an illusion.

Pakistan's first transition from one democratically-elected government to another is of utmost importance to India. There are serious doubts as to how elections would be held in many of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where there is virtually no law and order machinery. Balochistan is anarchic. Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa is mainly controlled by religio-political parties. In Sindh, the major players are Pakistan's People Party (PPP), Altai Hussion's (who is in exile) Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Nawaz), and the Jamatt-e- Islami. Punjab accounted for 182 of the 342 parliamentary seats. Northern and central Punjab have for long been the stronghold of Nawaz Sharif's PML(N), while Southern Punjab has been a stronghold of PPP Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-lnsaf is popular among young voters and they have been fascinated by the enigmatic Imran Khan.

For the first time, Pakistani youth voted with enthusiasm in May 2013 elections and wanted the government to revive Pakistan's economy. It was a vote for change. The youth needs sincere leadership which can drive Pakistan towards "mature democracy." A third of Pakistan's electorate is under the age of 25; most of the 13 million voters are deeply conservative; 32% favor military rule mostly in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh; and 29% favor democracy over military rule.1

Musharraf's era in Pakistan ended because of the Judiciary's crusade against the government that led to the ouster of General Musharaf in 2007 and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in 2011. The toughness of the Pakistani judiciary was possible due to the boldness of the Pakistani news media.

Sixty-six years after the creation of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a democratic transition took place for the first time in Pakistan's history. Mian Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister for the third time. There is some unease among Pakistan's top military commanders over civil-military relations. Many of the corps commanders were given promotions during the tenure of General Musharraf, including the current army chief General Kayani, who was given an extension by President Zardari, and Nawaz Sharif was critical of the move.2

Challenges for Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz's biggest challenge is Pakistan's economic revival. After the election results, Standard and Poor's (S&P) Ratings Services has shown relative confidence in Pakistan's economic situation, declaring that the country is set for the longer-term stability. Nawaz Sharif has not just been business-friendly but has worked with multinational agencies and has hinted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would provide funds to address the fiscal crunch because Pakistan's balance of payments is already under stress.3

On the energy front, the biggest challenge will be the circular debt of 870 billion Pakistani rupees and the huge shortfall in utilizing the installed capacity. …

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