“Little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is an adage that most people are familiar with. But, when scant or little knowledge is peddled as analyses and when this analysis, in turn, is employed and instrumentalized as a potential policy peg, it can become fatally hazardous. The reference here is to the statements of Naeem Akhtar where he has asserted that “China is on its way to assuming a “much bigger role in Kashmir” and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, has been veritably “adopted” by Beijing.
It’s the “growing influence of China” which has made it imperative to engage with Pakistan”. Akhtar has added that, “unlike earlier, the Great Game is being literally played in Kashmir”. These assertions, among other things reflect, at best, a fecund imagination or, at worse, muddled, juvenile thinking. Akhtar, in his attempts to make two plus two equals five ends up rendering two plus two equal to infinity. A word about geopolitical analysis might be warranted here to put the matter into perspective. Geopolitics, strictly speaking, is about the influence of geography on international relations and politics. In a way then, it is a sub branch or an allied discipline of international relations, which, in turn, pertains to interstate relations and politics thereof. Both these disciplines are broad and deep. Reducing to a factor then constitutes a fallacy of reductionism. Given this brief delineation of the nature of international relations and geopolitics, where do Akhtar’s assertions stand? Yes, there is a putative rivalry emerging between India and China but the name of the game, in terms of this rivalry, would fall in the domain of altering balances of power in the region. Disaggregated, this means augmentation and building of capacities, military, economic, politics of the two respective states. It is these more than anything else that can be a determinative influence on world and regional politics. Having said this, it would appear that Akhtar is making this fallacious pitch to underscore the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan. But, making Indo Pak dialogue contingent on facetious reasoning is as flawed as can be. Dialogue and rapprochement between India and Pakistan holds merit for intrinsic and inherent reasons. It should not and must not be related to made up and contrived reasons. World politics is in the midst of deep churn and fluidity; its nature and form lies in the domain of the “unknown unknown”. Putting it into perspective requires deep expertise and acumen; not amateur dilettantism.