Explaining India & Pakistan’s Neutrality in the New Cold War
It admittedly sounds strange to write about India and Pakistan of all countries practicing very similar policies during a global crisis, especially with respect to Russia, but such is the curious state of contemporary International Relations that has thus far defied so many observers’ expectations.
The US-led West is extremely displeased with India and Pakistan for refraining from publicly condemning Russia’s special operation in Ukraine. Their hitherto neutrality is impressive in and of itself since it speaks to their respective grand strategic goals of balancing between major actors in what can accurately be described as the present bi-multipolar period. It’s all the more impressive, however, when considering that they’re under immense pressure from America to follow its lead.
The Western Mainstream Media (MSM) is pushing the weaponized information warfare narrative implying or even sometimes outright stating that these two rivals are compromising on what are misleadingly presented as so-called “international principles”. The innuendo is that their close ties with Russia, which are vastly different in any case since India’s special and privileged strategic partnership with Moscow cannot realistically be compared to Pakistan’s rapid rapprochement with it, are immoral.
Left out of this carefully controlled discourse is the simple fact that India and Pakistan just don’t want to get involved since doing so would betray their foreign policy principles of pursuing balanced and neutral relations with all likeminded partners that treat their countries with the respect that they deserve. Russia satisfies this criterium since its grand strategy of the Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) perfectly complements their own, ergo why Moscow succeeded in cultivating close ties with those two rivals.
Unilaterally cutting off their relations with Russia just to please the US-led West would amount to sacrificing their sovereignty and leaving little doubt about the veracity of the consequent observation that they wouldn’t in that scenario really have much strategic autonomy to speak of. That said, it also can’t be discounted that the heavy pressure being put upon them might result in one or both potentially saying something of rhetorical value in an attempt to appease the West, though that wouldn’t be wise.
Doing so could give rise to concerns from China with respect to Pakistan’s ability to withstand Western pressure campaigns that might one day be directed against the People’s Republic, while those countries that are hoping that India might jointly assemble a new Non-Aligned Movement (“Neo-NAM”) with Russia could be similarly disappointed and might end up becoming pessimistic about that scenario. It would therefore be best for those South Asian states to continue resisting the US’ pressure campaign.
Another argument in favor of this is that the rest of the non-West will be very impressed with them for holding their ground and thus retaining the integrity of their principled foreign policies. That could further improve their reputations, which is very important for both of them, especially at the onset of this latest phase in the New Cold War. They might even become pressure valves in this global competition by ultimately retaining pragmatic ties with all parties, which will boost their importance.
It admittedly sounds strange to write about India and Pakistan of all countries practicing very similar policies during a global crisis, especially with respect to Russia, but such is the curious state of contemporary International Relations that has thus far defied so many observers’ expectations. These countries could lead by example in showing the rest of the non-West that it’s indeed possible to successfully resist US-led pressure campaigns, which could inspire others to do the same.