In our second webinar, @PravinSawhney spoke with clarity and eloquence on subjects that he has been dealing with for decades. He elucidated on the future of the trilateral security landscape in South Asia. The video can be accessed here :
Mr.Pravin started off his talk by putting Beijing , New Delhi and Islamabad in a strategic matrix. Upfront he dubbed China as a geostrategic player that has the capacity, capabilities and the will to influence events outside its border.
Pravin added that along with China, America and Russia are geostrategic players too who would shape the contours of geopolitics in the future.
China, Pravin argued, has a roadmap that is encapsulated in the "Chin Dream". The mechanism to achieve that is the Belt and Road Initiative, he added.
Pravin said that the Digital Silk Road is one of the parts of the BRI, that is given less attention to as compared to that given to the part that deals with hard infrastructure.
Delving on the Digital Silk Road, Pravin said that it was added to the BRI in 2015. He highlighted the role that technology will play in adding to China's power by mentioning the induction of the technology road in the Digital Silk Road in 2017.
He added that Beijing is looking at a set of technologies to use through the digital silk map ,and share with countries that are onboard BRI. All this is being in a systemic manner within a timeframe under the framework called "China Standards 2035".
Such a long-term and strategic approach means that China will be able to set the tone for telecommunications, AI and other cutting-edge technologies in the next 15 years, contended Pravin.
This will eventually, Pravin said,lead to the creation of global standards of how are done. He believed that the setting of standards and increased share in the market will give the Chinese interoperability and also huge amounts of data.
The trade and commerce angles have really strengthened the BRI into a very comprehensive plan ,said Pravin.
All of these standards will greatly help expand China's even-otherwise strong military, Pravin said while adding that this will enable China to add to its sets of inducements to BRI countries. He said that Beijing offers two things: prosperity and cooperative security .
China can inveigle other countries by giving a very attractive package, noted Pravin.
Pravin termed Pakistan a geopolitical pivot that is attractive and needed by geopolitical players. He outlined Pakistan 's geography and its professional military as the factors that make Pakistan a pivot.
Pravin said that these two pillars of strength will position Pakistan to be engaged by both Beijing and Washington.
Given these advantages that it has ,Pakistan has adopted a hedging strategy, which is ideal for it , he said about Pakistan's security and foreign policies.
Pravin pointed to India's contradiction in regard its strategic thinking. He said that India's hedging strategy does not go in-line with its strategic autonomy refrain. Pravin was emphatic in saying that both can't go hand in hand.
He said that this lack of clarity at the strategic level permeates till the military level. The Indian military is unclear about the threat matrix.
The military is also not conversant with the nature of war and the technology needed to fight that, added Pravin.
After juxtaposing the three countries in the matrix , Pravin said that the game will be played in the Asia-Pacific theatre by the lone geostrategic player in the region:China.
All that,he said, will be affected by not a trade war but a war for technological supremacy.
On that front ,he remarked that while the Chinese are good at AI application, they don't have a strong AI ecosystem in place.
China does not have the software frameworks for algorithms in AI, identified Pravin while talking about China's relative weakness viz the US.
That said ,the Chinese have made the Americans jittery because of 5G technology, accentuated Pravin.
This tiff will continue, allowing China to catch up and plug its deficiencies with regard to AI, argued Pravin.
This global war for technological ascendancy have a bearing on the Asia-Pacific region ,said Pravin while stating that this would increase India's space to maneuver.
China is sitting pretty in the fulcrum of the Western Pacific ,as the PLA has militarized it.
According to Pravin, South Asia is the pivot of the Indian Ocean. He said that China is fairly entrenched in the region, as countries, barring India and Bhutan, are on board with China.
Commenting on BRI, Pravin said that he does not see work on the BRI stopping. In case of Pakistan (CPEC) the Pakistan military will play an important role in ensuring that this project succeeds and completes on time .
Pravin questioned India's hedging strategy at a time when its neighbourhood is insecure.
When asked by @Rabs_AA to further explain his military power thesis, he explained how at the strategic level of war , Pakistan has an edge over India. And this edge, he termed, as the reason why India's advantage at the tactical level does not translate into one at the op level.
He ended his talk by saying that the ever-increasing interoperability between China and Pakistan will help the latter take the lead over India at the operational level, too.