The latest attempt by the Western countries to counter China’s rise has come in a form of a bloc. The US, UK and Australia have joined hands to create what they call a security bloc named AUKUS. The alliance includes joint efforts to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines. It must be noted that announcement comes at a time when Australia is already involved in the submarine saga with France. Canberra had cancelled the contract with Paris over concerns of delays, cost overruns and suitability. In this backdrop, the launch of the AUKUS means Australia would scrap the $50 billion agreement with France to provide conventional submarines to Canberra. What the Western allies envision to achieve from not only making one of their own an adversary in the global politics but also propping up a security alliance when others similar blocs exist is anybody’s guess. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) between the US, Australia, Japan and India has been active since 2007. The behaviour of the West has undoubtedly been erratic since the Taliban takeover of Kabul. There is no denying the fact that with China and Russia initiating talks with the Taliban regime and dominating the global chessboard, the US and its allies are on edge. Perhaps, the setup of this new ‘kid’ on the bloc is just another desperate attempt to remain in the game.
China has described the agreement as “the obsolete Cold War mentality,” while Pakistan has said in clear words that “we do not subscribe to bloc politics. Rather, we support broader, inclusive multilateral cooperation, based on open and transparent principles.” However, it is clear that AUKUS will be a challenge for Islamabad, considering its close allyship with Beijing. We must remember that the call this country has been anxiously waiting for from the White House has still not been made. And the fact is that a lot depends on that call. Pakistan is seeking a revival of the IMF programme and still remains in the FATF grey-list. Thus, we must tread with caution. As for the US and its allies, choosing Australia over India to counter China after New Delhi failed in Afghanistan, will prove to be another strategic disaster. The world has suffered enough owing to the West’s post-imperial nostalgia. It is time they leave their pride behind and as the Chinese president said at the UNGA, “we need to advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are the common values of humanity.”