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Pragmatic Calculations

Vinod C. Khanna

Edited by Swaran Singh
Manohar, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 405, Rs. 895.00


The relationship between China and Pakistan, as the editor of China-Pakistan Strategic Cooperation: Indian Perspectives quite aptly states at the very beginning of his Preface, remains one of the most serious challenges for Indian policy makers. This book brings together contributions by eighteen Indian scholars on various facets of this ‘time-tested…all-weather’ relationship. For more than four decades when so much else on the international stage has witnessed profound changes, Beijing-Islamabad bonds remain very close. It is a relationship based on purely pragmatic strategic calculations and not on any ideological affinity. In fact, Pakistan was one of the few friends China was able to retain even during the mayhem of the Cultural Revolution in China.   The eighteen articles are grouped into three parts of six chapters each: Mutual Perceptions and Policies; Defence and Strategic Cooperation and Fundamentals of Strategic Engagement.   Swaran Singh and the other contributors are perfectly right when they argue that even though shared strategic objectives vis-à-vis India have played the dominant role in cementing this relationship, it is not exclusively India-centric nor exclusively military in its content. He also debunks the ‘myth’ that China was the sole source of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes.   Some of the non-India factors which have helped Sino-Pak relationship are: During the Cold War years, Pakistan was of significant help to China in managing relations with the superpowers. Pakistan assisted China both in befriending the USA and in confronting the Soviet Union; China needed a friend in the Islamic world—which also happens to include some of the most oil-rich countries in the world—which consisted of a large number of countries that viewed Communist China with suspicion; Pakistan is, as Anindyo J. Majumdar and some of the other contributors point out, China’s land corridor to the Indian Ocean and the link to Gulf and West Asia. Traffic can be expected to flow all the way from Khunjerab pass in the Karakoram to Gwadar port on the Arabian sea; It has been plausibly suggested by some analysts that some of the more sensitive transfers from China to Pakistan were in return for Pakistan giving them access to equally sensitive technology acquired from elsewhere.   Friendship with Pakistan has also to be seen in the context of China’s problems with its rebellious Muslim province of Xinjiang. Abanti Bhattacharya argues that ‘the Xinjiang factor, instead of driving a wedge between China ...

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