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Pak-China-Iran Geostrategic Cooperation

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The three regional giants, Pakistan, China and Iran, of the three regional zones, South Asia, East Asia and the Middle East, have a pivotal role to play for trilateral cooperation. Iran, with its strategic and security sway in the Middle East, coupled with copious natural resources and ancient historic and cultural ties with Central Asian States, makes it a superb regional power.  China’s economic boost, its Veto Power, global influence and connectivity inventiveness makes it the next world power. Pakistan, the first Islamic Nuclear Power and emerging regional hub both in term of economy and defence, with its extensive experience of tackling uneven situations, its intimate history of relations and its geopolitical regional vitality makes it central for trilateral cooperation. The trio is geographically, geopolitically, and eco-strategically located amongst three extremely paramount global regions. Their cultural assortment, natural reserves, aqua routes, geography and conflicts affect affairs worldwide. The overlapping strategic and security issues of Pakistan, China, and Iran can easily be settled through their trilateral cooperation. The Afghan issue is the most urgent one for all regional and international stakeholders.

A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of both regional states and intruders. Pakistan has suffered a lot due to turbulent Afghan affairs. Chinese and Iranian security and economic concerns are also tied to Afghanistan. Earlier, Pakistan and Iran had not been on same page for the Afghan solution as Pakistan was pro-Taliban and Iran was pro-Northern Alliance. China has high stakes in Afghanistan as it aspires to connect it to its grand Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China is desirous of peace and stability in Afghanistan as it is looking for smooth access to Central Asian States. For China, Afghanistan’s instability and turmoil may spill into Xinjinag from South to Central Asia. Hence, the trio a significant role to play for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, regardless of past strategies.

US presence in Afghanistan is not in the interest of the trio, and China and Iran have always been opposing external intruders in Afghanistan. The US stay in Afghanistan and ties with India have disturbed the peace and balance of power in Asia. So, Pakistan, China and Iran are bound to get ahead on trilateral cooperation for their mutual interests. Pakistan has played a pivotal role for the US-Taliban peace agreement. Pak-Russian military exercises have paved the way for Russian involvement in regional cooperation as Trump’s South Asian policy has flocked regional countries together. India is trying its utmost to instigate terrorist activities in Afghanistan to prolong the US stay in the region for its own vested interests. Trump’s inclination towards India and announcement of India’s enhanced role in Afghanistan has cautioned Pakistan, China and Iran about future regional strategy. An additional problem is the Indian factor, which always brings hegemonic designs. India’s imperialistic dreams have pushed it into several regional disputes and intense relations with its neighbouring states. India’s historic rivalry with Pak-China is actually a tussle for regional supremacy.

Sino-Indian disputes are being impacted by external factors and same is the case with the Pak-India Kashmir issue. The US wants to get more than the expected advantage out of a possible war between the two sets of rivals, Pak-India or China-India. In both cases, the US will be able to weaken China. The 2005 US-Indian Civil Nuclear Agreement and some more recent advancements are clear indications for China, Iran, and Pakistan to move forward collectively to avert foreseeable problems. The US is pitting India against Pakistan and China by equipping it with the latest defence technology. US-Indian ties are threatening CPEC, therefore the trio’s cooperation has become the need of the hour. Although Indian-Iran ties are not as tense as compared to India’s relationship with Pakistan and China, yet the US might use India and Israel against Iran for her interests. Many Indian-Iran agreements are nothing more than paperwork, therefore, the US managed to compel India to drop out of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.

Pakistan, China, and Iran can easily comprehend that the US South Asian policy has always favoured India, which is threatening their interests and regional balance of power as well as regional peace and security. It is essential for triad to align themselves with one another to stop US influence in India and the Indian dreams of sole regional supremacy. The rest of the Asian states are neither economically stalwart nor from defence point of view. They can easily be swayed by US-Indian pressure, which is why the Pakistan-China-Iran trio is the sole resistance to US involvement in South Asia. In terms of the tense US-Iran relations, India will prefer to side with the US instead of Iran, so it is time for Iran to realign itself with Pakistan and China.