Written by: Ms. Sidra Ishaq, PRCCSF Fellow, Lahore.
The QUAD, officially Quadrilateral security dialogue is an informal strategic arrangement between Australia, India, Japan, and United States in the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions. Apart from the United States, which is not in this region, the other three states claim to be the largest regional democracies in this area. It was created as a response to China’s profound importance in the Indo-Pacific region. As of now, it has been depicted as a project intended to safeguard free sea channels for unrestricted shipping. Even so, considering the increasing US-China fierce competition, its transition into a military alliance cannot be ruled out. Since India is a member of the Quad, the implications for Pakistan must be taken into account.
Following the 2004 Asian Tsunami, it undertook an unofficial alliance for humanitarian relief. To provide humanitarian assistance, the naval forces of these four nations had to collaborate and facilitate with one another. But then in 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was in charge proposed instituting QUAD. Australian concerns had previously caused QUAD to be inactive. The Chinese government reiterated their concerns that Australia in particular was discouraged from actively participating in QUAD because the Chinese believed that this was an attempt to restrict and isolate China as soon as it was institutionalized. But once Donald Trump was elected president of the United States and the Australian government changed, the QUAD was once again revived. We have witnessed a more active QUAD since 2007.
These nations have also stated that they will work together in other areas, including space, information security, and even climate change, in addition to the maritime domain. There are also the interests of the individual member states; for instance, India possesses its own regional goals, particularly in the context of its competition with China and the US’s wish to retain the status quo. The Quad is still in its infancy, but it is evolving progressively. It will probably be expanded to include other coastal territories or the formation of other regional alliances. Another noteworthy development is the emergence of a fresh alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS), hinting that other states may join to build a formal, US-led military alliance to challenge China and Russia.
India and the US view the BRI and CPEC endeavours with mistrust and animosity. As a result, Pakistan may assist China in a conflict between India and China, while the US would back India. As a result, in the event of an Indo-China conflict, Pakistan may become involved in a regional competition, which would have catastrophic effects on Pakistan’s security and economy. In addition, such a fight would also have a significant negative impact on regional stability.
The US’s participation in QUAD threatens South Asia’s strategic stability. Pakistan is concerned with Indian superiority in the Indian Ocean region. Therefore, Pakistan’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean region must be strengthened, if India can collaborate and get assistance from these big economies. This may drive Pakistan into the Chinese sphere of influence. To avoid any hassle, Pakistan must strengthen bilateral cooperation with ASEAN and SCO member countries and other major economies. By joining US-led partnerships to contain China, India’s Asia Pacific strategy aims to establish it as a regional and global leading power. Pakistan must be aware of Indian policies and, as a result, diversify its interactions with regional and global powers.
To ensure maritime stability in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, Pakistan is already improving its navy fleet’s capabilities with anti-air weapons and combat management systems. China already possesses the dominant position. Beijing has a Blue Water Navy that can operate internationally across seas. In a world of regional power struggles and shifting alliances, Pakistan should now consider the potential of signing new Indian and Arabian Ocean treaties.