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Road to peace in region goes through Islamabad: Pakistani MP

Mushahid Hussain says ‘Pakistan-US relationship is ‘tactical,’ while China ties ‘strategic and more resilient’

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 04.12.2021
Road to peace in region goes through Islamabad: Pakistani MP Mushahid Hussain, a Pakistani lawmaker and chair of the Senate Defense Committee.

ISTANBUL 

The international system is undergoing the most profound transformations after the so-called war on terror but Pakistan has always been a pivotal player, an international law expert said Friday. 

“Pakistan is one country (in the region) which is willing to communicate (with the US) on the basis of equality and reciprocity,” said Mushahid Hussain, a Pakistani lawmaker and chair of the Senate Defense Committee.

“If you (US) want to really build peace, security, and stability in the region. The road lies through Islamabad,” Hussain said at the seminar, “Examining Pakistanis role in the current US-China rivalry,” at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). “There is a resilience and lot of clarity in Pakistan’s overall role.”

The Joe Biden administration in Washington “is a holdover of the Obama administration. It is a continuation of that worldview,” he said.

“After messing up the Muslim world,” he said, regarding the US, “they say now (we) will now take on China.”

But he said the situation for Pakistan “has been clear.”

Hussain said: “The Pakistan-US relationship is seen as ‘tactical’ while Pakistan-China relations has been strategic and more resilient.”

Referring to the 1963 March boundary agreement between China and Pakistan, Hussain called Pakistan’s bilateral relations with China “a model relationship that has withstood changes in the region, world, within China and within Pakistan.”

With the US, he said, Pakistan saw “phases in the bilateral relations.”

“They needed us against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, were partners in the Afghan jihad, the so-called war on terror, thus this relationship was linked with a specific situation,” he said.

The Pakistani lawmaker said the US has now taken two strategic decisions: “Promote and prop up India militarily, politically and strategically and this is a decision which the (Barack) Obama regime started.”

“They have made one fundamental choice, i.e. India, which is seen as the main enemy of Pakistan, is their best friend in the region. That is the US choice,” he said.

With China, he said, “it is a work in progress.”

“The Cold War II has not begun but there are contours of that: first you demonize a country and then you try to damage their reputation and then you try to destabilize them,” he said. “That is what they did with Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya,” calling it US’ “classical operations.”   

China in no mood to compromise

Hussain said the Chinese will “never compromise” on two things.

“One is historically they see that they have overcome a century of humiliation which started in 1840 -- the opium war imposed by the British which ended in 1949, i.e. sanctity of their borders, their sovereignty is a red line for China,” he said.

“Second one is the experience of the Soviet Union: they will not allow China to become corrupt, fat, just a bureaucratic state,” he said, and suggested that Washington is having second thoughts about China.

“There is a perhaps a review taking place in the US that China is not the Soviet Union and cannot be pushed in the current situation,” he said.

The lawmaker, however, said that the US Congress was passing a $300 million fund which will be spent every year on “countering Chinese influence.”

And the US has launched a copycat of China’s Belt and Road Initiative -- Build Back Better World while the UK has launched Golden Gateway, he said.

“Pakistan’s relationship with China is not directed against anyone. We want to have relations with other countries and have an outreach,” he said.

Hussain said Pakistan attained “strategic space, the world has changed and Pakistan is now a nuclear power while China is not poor and now there is multi-polarity in international politics.”

“Pakistan says don’t see the world in bloc politics and the world is seeing a transformation in the balance of economic and political power from West to Asia. It is a century of Asia,” he added. 

'US problem has become regional problem'

On Afghanistan, Hussain said, it was for the first time, an “American problem has been handed over and has now become a regional problem.”

“Pakistan is trying to handle this regional problem with regional countries including with China, Russia, and central Asian nations,” he said, adding that Islamabad rejects “any notion of a new Cold War. We are not taking sides.”

The US’ longest war ended in Afghanistan in August when all of the foreign coalition forces exited the country after 20 years. The war-torn country is struggling with a weak economy and a looming humanitarian crisis as the Taliban have vowed to secure the country from terrorism.

“We have our own role to play and we welcome investments from any country,” he said.

Regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said: “When China started its investments in Pakistan, no one wanted to invest in Pakistan. It was a vote of confidence and future of its people.”

China invested more than $25 billion in Pakistan in less than a decade.

“Pakistan is emerging as a hub of regional connectivity,” he said.

“Investment in India (by the US) is a high cost and low return investment because Mr (Narendra) Modi has an ideological foreign policy based on classical European 1930s fascism which is bigotry and hatred for Islam. India has become a strategic partner of Israel because they want to change the demographic balance whether in Palestine or occupied Kashmir. They have also this policy bashing up resistance and violating UN resolutions. Kashmir is our core interest and if India has a different policy, so be it,” he said.

He said the failure of the US in Afghanistan was “because of flawed policies.”

“Each country defends its core interests and our core interest are not compatible with the US core interests,” he added.

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