Game of zones: Why India must resolve its issues with both its nuclear neighbours, Pakistan and China

Published: July 18, 2017

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at the BRICS leaders’ meeting with the bloc’s business council, in the Indian state of Goa, last October. PHOTO: AFP

While framing this piece in my mind, I was stuck in a conundrum. Why am I writing a blog at a time when everyone is probably watching Game of Thrones (GoT)? Simply enough, an answer came to mind. Apart from the very few people who do not watch the series, everyone is interested in real life power struggles as well.

Hence, the name game of zones, conflict zones to be exact.

I read an article recently, which quoted a Chinese analyst saying that the Indian government should avoid opening two fronts. This was of course an apparent reference to its neighbours, Pakistan and China.

Pakistan has a long-standing conflict with India on Kashmir, while China and India have been flexing their muscles on the Doklam (or DongLang in Mandarin) area. Doklam has been a point of conflict for India and China since India forcefully blocked the building of a road by China in the area. Both parties have had a war of words.

In an apparent twist on the story, another Chinese analyst wrote that China also reserves the right to intervene on behalf of another country if requested. For those unaware of the matter, India had intervened on behalf of Bhutan, whose foreign policy it dictates after an agreement on the subject.

This was a shadow punch to allude that if Pakistan requests it, China would intervene on its behalf in Kashmir.

A lot of news began flowing following this incident, especially yesterday, when it was claimed that the Chinese had fired rockets in Sikkim killing 158 Indian soldiers. This of course turned out to be false. The Chinese military is, however, conducting exercises in the area and the Indians have upsized their border force by 2,500 soldiers on the 220-kilometre stretch of the Sikkim border.

Is this just another border dispute or something larger being micromanaged in a single region?

Let’s explain this the GoT way:

The Americans are the Lannisters (minus the incest of course). They are arrogant and powerful and so naturally everyone hates them. But with each progressing season, their power is fading and their allies diminishing.

Across the seas, China is the emerging dragon, whose power easily rivals, or more correctly, surpasses that of the US. With power comes great hegemony and thus the Americans feel extremely threatened with the growing clout which China exercises, both economic and military. It therefore has an ally or proxy (let’s say the Freys or the Boltons) which it is employing to take care of the rise of an enemy.

It would be naïve to say that the Indians do not have any grand ideas of their own. They certainly have the power and the nationalistic ego to boot. This combination of emerging power with jingoistic spirit is definitely a remarkable trait for a nation, but it is also easily exploitable. Even if the Indian readers of this blog do not agree, I must make the following statement – India is being used by the US to counter China.

That said, the situation India finds itself in is quite precarious. On one hand, there is annual bilateral trade valued at approximately $71 billion with China, not to mention the hundreds of kilometres of shared border and the regional links that go with it.

One the other hand, it has the western powers pandering to its regional power status, nuclear deals with the US and a seat at the world’s highest table. Both are evenly matched, yet diametrically opposite situations. If it takes one side, it will lose its importance in the eyes of the other. Walking the middle line (similar to Littlefinger) is highly desirable but practically an impossible situation.

Given the way the political situation in Westeros and Easteros are evolving, the East is on the rise, which of course includes India itself. As a personal opinion, I have said this earlier and I shall repeat it again – with the rise of the East, India and Afghanistan must get on the bandwagon in order to emerge more powerful at the end of the imminent political shift in the world. This means it must resolve its issues with both its nuclear neighbours, Pakistan and China.

The Kashmir dispute needs to be amicably resolved with Pakistan and China (the Aksai Chin region) and the Arunachal Pradesh dispute with China, not to mention the other Chinese disputes India is meddling in. It is only through peace and partnership that both India and Pakistan will be able to taste the fruits of economic prosperity.

For people within India who think dumping their western allies will cause uncontrollable upheaval, please listen to the wise words said by Archmaester Marwyn to Samwell Tarly (in the first episode of GoT season seven) regarding his worries about an imminent White Walker invasion,

“Every winter that ever came has ended.”



The author holds an MPhil in Public Administration and has taught Politics and Public Policy at the University of Karachi.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • angrybird

    stop cheerleading for chinaRecommend

  • PorkSmasher

    You mean to resolve disputes with China and Pakistan,to resolve on their own terms. No sir, not possible, if war is inevitable then let there be a war we will neither budge down to terrorism of Pakistan nor the hegemony of China.Recommend

  • Ram Pandey

    Please correct your facts…India has gone in since China has gone into bhutanese territory and India has a defense understanding with Bhutan. The bilateral trade with China is heavily in Chinese favour and stopping that can actually work in India’s favour.Recommend

  • rama

    Thanks for the skewed advice. India knows how to deal with dragon and donkeys independently and together

    Pakistan is already subservient of China and India don’t have to deal with subservient if deals with mastersRecommend

  • rama

    What else you can expect from person/nation with begging bowl !!!Recommend

  • Striver

    A sensible article.
    Unfortunately, Modi government’s jingoism and anti-Muslim policies are acquiesced in the western capitals. It is the shortsightedness which comes with such policies that will not only hinder India’s progress but that of the whole region.

    India is increasingly acting like a spoilt-child in the region, as it continues to receive undue attention from western world and of course expensive toys for its generals to play with.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    I don’t think you have understanding of the issue.
    1. Pakistan is trying to grab the territory it never belonged to it. Kashmir was NOT to be part of Pakistan. Pakistan illegally occupied Kashmir while India has annex document signed by Hari Singh.
    2. There is a tripartite agreement between India , Bhutan and China which is breached by China.
    3. Bhutan and India has agreement under which India guarantees territorial security for Bhutan and India is well within it’s right to be in Bhutan. Does China guarantees Pakistan’s security?Recommend

  • peter pan

    So you live in West watch American TV shows, your analogies are built round western symbols and yet you seem to support the eastern powers! Interesting.
    The Indians who you address also do the same.
    The only difference is that they are more realistic and think it is best for them to work with the US to defend themselves against the Chinese. This is very much akin to Pakistan’s thinking in the sixties which thought that cosying up with the US would help them against India. They proved to be wrong. Bu the Indians are not wrong China is a real threat for them. It helps Pakistan which is their archenemy and ever so unstable.
    It is trying to get to the Arabian sea thru Pakistan. It is trying to circle India and deny it its regional status as a super power economically and militarily. I would be scared If I was Indian. So please do not give our neighbors bad advice.Recommend

  • Rahul

    Why Pakistanis are always full of advise what India should or should not do.Recommend


    ha ha begane shaadi me abdullah begana. dont worry india is ready with any fronts war.Recommend

  • Ironman

    U.S. was a great country till weapons and aid were flowing in. Now we have a new master. So lets talk great things about this new neighbor next door.Recommend

  • Tight Patloon

    Pakistan has become a lackey of China. Pakistanis in their heart want a war between India and China so that they too can have their revenge. Poor mentality Pakistanis will never improve.Recommend

  • Pradeep Bhanot

    A good declaration in declaring China as a super power,but by whom ??????
    Pakistan !!!!!!!!!!!!
    What a joke,Join the China-Pakistan nexus.
    Only two partners in every sin.No other neighbour even like to be sitting with these two.
    What pakistan thinks is that the time has come for its more relevance being received from China.But my darling as China comes more and more open against India,less and less they need Pakistan.
    Note one thing right now,in coming years pakistan will wither like any thing.
    Broken apart.POK and Gilgit baltistan coming back to India,Balochistan being again independent as was before 1948.And most probably KP going to Afghanistan.
    Pakistan will only be left as Punjabistan.
    Rise of East means,Economic rise and not the rise of terror,what pakistan is exporting to whole world.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Second try!
    Author claims “India is being used by US to counter China”!
    Hmm, ever consider that Pakistan is being used by China to counter India???Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Hmmm, No mention of Pakistani Gernerals desire for expensive toys to play with!Recommend

  • Striver

    Pakistani Generals are quite sensible in their approach to weapons-buying and dealing with Indian atrocities on the LOC.

    In numbers PK army might be small but it throw a fatal blow at India and your generals know it.Recommend

  • Zahid Moh

    well you have a big wishlist.. best of luck with it..for your information you do not know any thing about the dynamics of pakistan. just sitting in front of that fool inidian media and thinking that you know all. keep day dreaming ..Recommend

  • Shiva

    Paksitan doesn’t even have a media. All TV talk shows are about how Pakistan is poor and India is performing good at world arena.Recommend

  • _Shiva_

    China for sure doesn’t want India as it’s foe. Mutually guaranteed destruction is on the cards. China has huge business interests in India. Western powers are gradually shifting their imports from India. This is the source of all issues. Border issues are used as a pawn to counter economic interests.Recommend

  • Sushil Chadha

    Muslims will never stop poking theirs noses in other people affairsRecommend

  • Gratgy

    “Across the seas, China is the emerging dragon, whose power easily rivals, or more correctly, surpasses that of the US.”

    I stopped reading after this sentenceRecommend

  • Milford

    One of the dumbest article in disguise of a blood. Try harder next time.Recommend

  • Pari Sharma

    Yeah do a referendum excluding the jihadis of Kashmir. Sikhs,Hindus,Buddhists of Kashmir do not want an Islamic state in Kashmir,they all are loyal to IndiaRecommend

  • Pari Sharma

    Good article keep giving advise to India while your country is becoming a debt ridden failed nationRecommend

  • Gratgy

    We buy America sells, we don’t get anything for free, that is called a transactional relationship. India follows its own foreign policy even with respect to America’s enemies such as Iran and Russia., unlike your case you where you beg for arms and money from America, china and Saudi and they throw unwanted scraps at you to keep you happy.

    Hari Singh was the King, since it was a monarchy, for all practical purposes he was the owner of Kashmir. Let us see you do referendums on Balochistan, Pakhtoonistan and Sindh firstRecommend

  • Sanjeev

    Now we understand why India war preparing for two front war. China has committed a blunder by challenging Modi. He is not Nehru.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Secularism is code word for tolerance to corruption, nepotism, dynastic rule, reservations to divide and destroy India and bad governance. Utterly honest, non corrupt and hard working Modi & Yogi team is capturing hearts of all Indians. India is in competition with totalitarian single party China. India needs to have direct democracy where every law is enacted using SMS based referendum with due weight given to voter’s knowledge of the issue. This is possible with advances in communication and computing.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Pakistan is an attitude developed because of taking fake Bedouin Semitic identity. Cruel joke is that these parasites not only hate every thing native but also original Semites/Jews. Rootless people cant think straight.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Those who cherish their fake Bedouinized Semitic identity can start west word till they reach sandy desert dunes and zum zum spring.Recommend

  • angrybird

    we are not puppet of any and we dont believe in such. its you pakistanis who always believe in licking boots of world leaders to make a stand against India. you were mistress of USA for a long time not changed your master
    no shame?Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    The article is a clear indicator that Pakistanis are acquiring bad Chinese traits.Recommend

  • Sane

    Did it make you shiver due to fear?Recommend

  • Sane

    Not advising, but warning.Recommend

  • Sane

    Gorkha Land rebellions also?Recommend

  • Sane

    Who is your master now? Lately that was Russia.Recommend

  • Sane

    You must have a war practice with Butan, before considering China you number one enemy.Recommend

  • Sane

    Only India cares too much about Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sane

    But, you have a huge baggage of Hinduism (HINDUWTA).Recommend

  • PatelPara

    The United States, over the period 1946-2012, has given India the largest amount of economic assistance, while providing Israel the greatest quantity of military assistance over the same interval, according to data compiled by USAID

    if only you had common sense to make your arguments.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    How does a Pakistani get time to give India the advise when the good taliban are blowing up the Afghans while the bad taliban are killing Pakistanis?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    No it made us laughRecommend

  • Swaadhin

    Friends of Pakistan and Kerry Luger bill are nothing but begging bowlsRecommend

  • Swaadhin

    Friends of Pakistan and Kerry Luger bill are also called begging bowls if someone has to put it bluntly.
    Remember the words by Hilary, ” you don’t have to take it”Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Why don’t you to take Christine Fair’s free of cost advise on plebiscite?
    Just read up and you would not sound as uneducated as you do.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Read the entire dictionary?
    There is a difference between rebellion and agitation which you won’t understand because anyone who questions Punjabistan is branded a terroristRecommend

  • Swaadhin

    What do your friends call you, a pervert?
    Indian girls this life and 72 virgins afterlife?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Just a matter of time. Sri Lanka does not know how to pay its debt to Chinese, Pakistanis dont even care, it was America in the past, China at present until a new master is found.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    Does she know what Indian govt did with Hyderabad and Junagadh when the rulers wanted to be part of Pakistan?Recommend