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Current trends indicate China has strength to exceed US : Mushahid Hussain

Pakistan is strategically aligned with China, whereas its relationship with the US is tactical: Multidisciplinary experts assert during a national conference titled “Ongoing Sino-US Contestation and Future Trajectory of US-Pak Relations”

A national conference titled “Ongoing Sino-US Contestation and Future Trajectory of US-Pak Relations” was organised under the banner of Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR), an Islamabad based think tank. The panellists included Mr Mushahid Hussain Syed, Senator PML(N); Prof. Dr Rifaat Hussain, Head Department of Government Policy and Public Administration at Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology; Ambassador (Retd) Syed Hasan Javed, Director, Chinese Studies Centre at the NUST School of Social Sciences & Humanities; Mr Faheem Sardar, Senior Policy Specialist, SPPC, NSD Pakistan; Mr Qamar Cheema, a faculty member at the Department of International Relations in the National University of Modern Languages Islamabad. Ms. Sabah Aslam, Executive Director IICR gave her opening remarks and welcomed guests and panellists whereas Senator Hussain moderated the working session.

In his opening address Mr Mushahid Hussain, Senator PML (N), remarked that current trends indicate that China has the strength, skill, and ambition to exceed the United States in Artificial Intelligence within the next ten years.

While citing Ash Center report on China published in July 2020, he said that 85 per cent of Chinese respondents were satisfied with the system in place in China under the communist party of China (CPC). While discussing the dichotomy between the global political behaviour of both Washington and Beijing, he remarked that US foreign policy has been indulged in waging war on terror whereas on

the other hand, China avoided walking on the same path and steered its foreign policy towards economic excellence and mutual development. 

He further said that there is a need to develop a broad-based relationship with China. “Pakistan must develop strategic clarity first and then draw clear red lines. The relation must be based on equality, reciprocity and protection of core interests,” said Mushahid Hussain

While speaking to the fora Mr Faheem Sardar, Senior Policy Specialist, SPPC, NSD Pakistan, emphasized that conflicts and economics are twin brothers and all wars have an economic aspect attached to them.

He said that “a conflict is destined to emerge when it is economically feasible, and this applies to inter-state conflicts as well,” highlighting the role of economics in creating the geopolitical scenario, Mr. Sardar said that wars meet their end when they are no longer feasible.

Adding further he said that Pakistan and the United States have never had a direct conflict and their relationship has always been tactical rather than strategic.

While recommending Mr. Sardar said that although conflicts are inevitable and they have a direct linkage with economic interdependence, a balance must be drawn so that the threshold or the red line is not crossed. Pakistan as a rising nation needs clarity, whether we want economic interdependence or something else.

“Economics and trade remain the best relationship builder and softener. Economics creates a pathway for traction, growth and mutual benefit. Pakistan can exist with trade and conflict with countries, China and India are at each other throats over certain borders but a few 100 kilometres they are trading in billions.” Faheem Sardar added.

The next speaker on the panel was Ambassador (Retd) Syed Hasan Javed, while speaking at the conference said that there is no brawl because the contest has already been decided and China is the victim of that contest.

Commenting on the US dilemma, he said that it is no more debatable that US is in a deep trouble nowadays. “The 20th Century was American century but now they have lost the credibility and battle of ideas because of its few major blunders,” said Amb. Javed

Similarly referring to China dilemma he said that China has no strategic competition and is totally against nuclearization. He also said that China does not want a cold war, “China is against forming allies for US enmity and believes in dialogue and wants democracy.

Amb. Javed then shared his views about Pakistan dilemma, he stressed that Pakistan cannot be dictated by anyone, and the USA is doing every possible political act to pressurize Islamabad. Lastly, he said that the “21st century”  belongs to China and Pakistan is the “key”.

The next panellist was Mr Qamar Cheema, while sharing his views about China’s economic excellence he said that China has developed itself without going into war or colonisation, instead, it focused upon shared destiny through economics. Referring to the statistical analysis he said that, according to data, China’s economy will surpass that of the United States by 2030.

While mapping about Pakistan’s strategic options he said that Pakistan should concentrate on the Asia Pacific area and avail of all available opportunities. Pakistan may strengthen its connections with African nations through CPEC and BRI, and use the OIC forum to gain influence in the Middle East and Africa, said Mr Cheema.

The last speaker on the panel was Prof. Dr Rifaat Hussain, while talking about Afghanistan in the Sino-US equation he emphasized that the metaphor of rising power China versus declining power like USA is misleading, as it ignores the current realities of power. Describing Adding ‘power transition theory’ he argued that a major war requires both opportunities and willingness. Opportunity comes from power parity between the challenger and hegemon while willingness comes from the challenger’s dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Brining an academic lens to the discussion Dr Hussain said that sketched the Implications for Pakistan, he said that Islamabad should maintain a policy of equidistance in the emerging competition between China AND the US. Suggesting further he said that it is a fact that India has become a preferred US partner in the region and Pakistan will have to choose between China and America and Pakistan is apparently not left with options.

In his concluding remarks Senator Mushahid Hussain syed, urged Pakistan to develop strategic clarity and clear red lines to develop a relationship based on equality, reciprocity and protection of core interests.

The conference came to end with question and answer session followed by lunch.

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