The new decade opened with a joint drill between the navies of Pakistan and China. The drill between the “iron brothers” was cause of concern and speculation for India since it was conducted in the Arabian Sea near India’s western coast, which hosts its major ports. Called “Sea Guardians 2020,” the exercise signified Pakistan’s posture in finally developing a concrete Indian Ocean policy.
Despite media attention to the region in an era of increasing competition, a major lacuna is that there is very little mention of the Indian Ocean Region, colloquially known as the IOR.
Pakistan is located at the cusp of the Arabian Sea, close to the Strait of Hormuz. Despite its fortunate geographic position, Pakistan’s Indian Ocean policy is still lacking. Pakistan touts the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project connecting China’s western Xinjiang with Pakistan’s southern belt, but China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has both land and maritime elements, of which Pakistan is only involved in the former. The CPEC is important for Pakistan due to its weak economy and isolation in the international arena, but Pakistan needs to create a holistic foreign policy that includes the CPEC, as well as a deeper strategic consideration of the IOR and the Gwadar Port.
To read the rest of the article, go to The Fletcher Forum.