Signaling a shift in its foreign policy, Pakistan has ‘warned and snubbed’ the United States twice in a span of two days, putting conditions for taking its relations with America forward. With the US refusing to step in or lend an ear to Pakistan’s rant on Kashmir, India’s neighbouring country has said that it would look to deepen ties with Russia and China instead. After referring to US as a ‘declining power’, Pakistan has now gone to the extent of telling America that if it wants to find a definite solution for peace in war-torn Afghanistan, then an answer to the Kashmir issue has to be found as well.
This is for the first time that Pakistan has linked peace in Afghanistan to the resolution of the Kashmir issue. Pakistan has said that a solution to both is required for peace and they cannot be “compartmentalised”. Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s special envoy on Kashmir Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed has said that the road to peace in Kabul lies in Kashmir. “…In the sense that when you talk of peace, you cannot compartmentalise peace, you can’t segregate a section…ok you can have peace in Kabul and let Kashmir burn. That is not going to happen,” he is reported to have said.
Syed who is the Chairman of the Pakistan Senate’s Defence and Defence Production Committee said that if US talks of a “comprehensive” peace settlement strategy, then it should not let the people of South Asia be “held hostage” to the hostility of the past. Just yesterday, Syed had called the US a ‘declining power’. “(The) US is no longer a world power. It is a declining power. Forget about it,” Mushahid Hussain Syed is reported to have said.
A report in PTI suggests that Mushahid Hussain Syed has warned US that Pakistan would move towards China and Russia if its views on Kashmir and India are not considered. “There has been slow and steady building of relationship between Moscow and Islamabad,” he said, adding that Russia has for the first time agreed to sell arms to Pakistan. Instead the government and military in Pakistan have over the years moved closer and still closer to China, banking on the regional ally to check India’s responses. And now, Pakistan is trying to add another strong player to its equation – Russia. The country is actively working to build ties with Russia, seeking its investments and promising to be a market for its defence products.
While China has always been close to Pakistan, and is unlikely to change its strategy anytime soon, Russia’s shift, however small, should be a reason for worry for India. This may actually be the reason that the Narendra Modi government is looking to expedite major defence deals with Russia, ahead of a meeting between PM Modi and Russian President Vladmir Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit next week.