The United States, India, Japan and Australia have formed “The Quad” to keep a check on China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific region and otherwise in the ever-evolving geopolitical arena. But how does Pakistan, an all-weather ally of China, see the collaboration of the four strategic economies forming the Quad?
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in an interview published on Nikkie Asia, responded to the question.
When asked by the interviewer if Pakistan would grant access to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) & Navy to strategic ports such as Gwadar port, and allow the Chinese to have bases there, the Pakistan Foreign Minister said it depends on how Quad turns out. When the interviewer quipped and asked if the Quad worries or concerns Pakistan and how Pakistan sees the Quad, Qureshi said he sees the Quad ‘with interest’.
Pakistan worried about the US-India alliance?
Pakistan was known to be an ally of the United States while Russia (an adversary to the US) had close ties with India; however, the geopolitical situation with the emergence of China as an economic and military power has changed the game altogether with Pakistan siding with China while the US is seen coming close with India keeping strategic interests in mind. Moreover, the West sees India as an important player to keep the Chinese aggression under check.
Speaking of Pakistan’s alignment with China and deteriorating ties with the US, Qureshi said Pakistan has been telling the Americans that if they go away somebody else will step in. He ranted about how the US has left Pakistan high and dry, forming an alliance with India. He mentioned “the Quad” at least thrice in the interview despite the interviewer not making any mention. Pakistan’s frustration with the US seemingly comes as the Pentagon on May 24 said that the security assistance to Pakistan that was suspended by the previous Trump administration remains suspended.
The Pakistan Foreign Minister had recently faced backlash in his own country over the matter of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. In an interview with Samaa TV aired on May 7, he said that the abrogation of Article 370 is India’s internal matter, however, he changed his stance after facing backlash from the opposition.
Pakistan’s confusing narrative on India
Pakistan’s narrative over its bilateral equation with India has been quite confusing in recent times. Pakistan PM Imran Khan during his visit to Sri Lanka in February had called for resolving differences with India. During the recently held Islamabad Security Dialogue, Imran Khan further contended that if both nations resolve their issues, India can benefit from trade and connectivity to Central Asia. Even Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa opined that it is time to bury the past and for India and Pakistan to move forward. However, Pakistan’s action contradicted its words when Pakistan Cabinet rejected the proposal of the Economic Coordination Committee to import sugar, cotton and yarn from India.
Moreover, irked by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s stern warning on cross-border terrorism, Pakistan has regurgitated the Jammu and Kashmir issue and the Abrogation of Article 370 and at times even resumed unprovoked firing along the LoC despite the ceasefire the two nations had entered into earlier this year.
What is the Quad?
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue also known as the Quad, was formed in 2007 by then Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, with the support of US Vice President Dick Cheney along with then Australian PM John Howard and India’s Manmohan Singh. However, with China issuing formal diplomatic protests, Australia during PM Kevin Rudd’s tenure withdrew from the Quad due to the evolving tensions between the US and China. However, India, Japan, and the United States continued the Quad, holding joint naval and military exercises. But in 2017, the Quad was revived with Australia re-joining the alliance in order to counter China militarily and diplomatically in the South China Sea. China’s misadventure in Ladakh while indulging in a faceoff with the Indian Army has also been criticised by the Quad as well as the global community.