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Raghavendra Mishra

By Andrew Small
Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015, pp. 288, $35.13


The visit by the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan in April 2015 saw repeated references to some clichéd phrases describing Sino-Pak relationship, like ‘all weather friendship’. Some new linguistic coinage emerged, such as, ‘visiting brother’s home’ and, ‘security for one as stability for the other’. An Indian dimension of this China-Pakistan nexus is reinforced when we consider recent Chinese reticence to criticize Pakistan’s inaction against Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. In this background, Andrew Small’s work, tracing the genesis, evolution and the critical drivers of China–Pakistan relationship through a geopolitical framework assumes relevance. The author has situated his book in the South Asian context, taking into account the full range of geopolitics, including geography, as well as the interplay of power and strategy by the main players. However, given the involvement of the US in the Af-Pak region as part of Global War on Terror (GWOT), its cooperative-competitive relationship with China, and the presence and relevance of other major international actors, the narrative extends much beyond South Asia. For instance, while discussing nuclear proliferation issues, the close compact between China, Pakistan and North Korea involving a convoluted quid pro quo, find particular mention. The ‘special character’ of this relationship is highlighted in the prologue, focused on the 2007 Lal Masjid crackdown. Pakistan, despite strong evidence that it was a hub for propagating extremist ideology, and considerable pressure from the US, only acted when the ‘moral brigades’ interfered with local Chinese establishments. An interesting observation by the author is that this action by Pakistan to help a friend set in motion a chain of events that now lies at the root of its current travails, where it is beset with economic depression and societal fragmentation along ethnic and religious lines. The author considers the China-Pak relationship somewhat peculiar, given the differences in governance structures, strategic outlook, and international stature of the two countries; he characterizes it as a ‘meeting of needs’ rather than of minds. In the author’s perception, the bilateral relationship is primarily rooted in a militarysecurity paradigm. He argues that the beginnings of this compact can be traced back to 1962 India-China war. The Pakistani military establishment evinced keen interest in the mechanics of Chinese victory and sought assistance from China. On this aspect, China has adopted a dual hedge strategy by actively supporting Pakistan through supply of technology ...

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