Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar found himself in an embarrassing situation on September 21, when he claimed during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that US policy of China’s containment had failed. “When this policy of containment of China was launched somewhere early 90s, it was what eighth or ninth largest economy of the world…,” he said at the high-profile appearance that was organized by NYC-based think tank Council on Foreign Relations. “Now as we speak it has become the world’s second largest and probably within few years the Dragon would be the first largest economy of the world. What do we do with this containment policy? Has it worked?” he added.
Courtesy CFR Youtube channel
Stephen Hadley, who was moderating the event held on the sidelines of UNGA, denied the Pakistani prime minister’s claim with a light snub. “In some sense, I think, some of your comments may be a little troubling to the American audience,” was the curt correction that the caretaker prime minister received from Hadley, who served as a Deputy National Security Adviser under former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in George W Bush administration. Hadley is currently a principal of Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC, an international strategic consulting firm founded with Condoleezza Rice, Robert Gates (former defense secretary in George W Bush administration), and Anja Manuel (former diplomat and Rice’s aide).
If Prime Minister Kakar’s decision to attend the UNGA, the first by a caretaker, was to launch himself as a global leader, he fell short. Being new to the international stage, the caretaker prime minister looked under confident, unprepared, incoherent and struggling. His British English accent (probably the sole qualification that might have impressed his supporters in right places) was of little help, because his limited knowledge of American foreign policy and international relations put him in a spotlight that otherwise could have been avoided. Here is a rough transcript of his answer to a question about Pakistan’s relations with China that landed him in trouble.
“Pakistan enjoys strategic relationship with China. We are very clear that there are people who would qualify Pakistan as China’s Israel. It is probably more good analogy for American audience because you do understand and appreciate the value of Israel for United States. Pakistan and China has a lot in common in terms of the emerging threats within region. There are commonalities on certain issues, for example one China policy, Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan… We do share commonalities and share the stated goals that we would stand shoulder to shoulder with each other. And it is reciprocated by the Chinese side as well.
“Let me remind you that in 2012-2013, many people around the Western capitals were predicting that Pakistan is a failed state and its gonna be dysfunctional soon. In that context our Chinese friends intervened and they jumped with a sizable project which is their showcase project known as CPEC. From there the feeling in the market changed that Pakistan is not a failing state. Our economic revival started from there… energy, port, infrastructure. Now we are transforming into second phase…
“Our relationship has a lot of potential to improve. Strategically we have always sided with each other. When I am explaining and talking about the positive bonding between China and Pakistan, we do appreciate and understand at the same time that there is a misperception at a global scale or at regional scale that there is adverserial or maybe hot pursuit between two great powers of United States and China, we don’t see that happening. We don’t see that happening at all. We do see a sort of an economic competitiveness between the two great economies between different civilizations.
“Yes we do see that there is a midsized entities within our region and beyond our region which has incentivized this paranoid and insecure situation between the two huge bars. And if they do not exploit on that, there wouldn’t be enough attention for flirtation and the so-called containment of China policy which has become a jargon or for the people on the most in the center of the right here in the US or in the European continent.
“When this policy of containment of China was launched somewhere early 90s, it was what eighth or ninth largest economy of the world… Now as we speak it has become the world’s second largest and probably within few years the Dragon would be the first largest economy of the world. What do we do with this containment policy? Has it worked? Is there any alternate governance competitive system which needs to be altered or changed?
“And if that doesn’t realize, my own humble assessment is that containment policy would convert into engagement of China and this entire strategic calculus which we are seeing right now would be morphed… and would be changed and all the pertinent questions which it seems to be pointed at Pakistan and our relationship with china would alter and probably we would be witnessing the 1971 era when Henry Kissinger flew to Islamabad and did a rapprochement with China through Pakistani capital. So I do see an opportunity that there is an engagement economically, politically, socially, of China and Pakistan would be partners in that journey.”
At this stage, Stephen Hadley corrected the prime minister with a mild snub on his claim on US policy of containing China: “Prime Minister, I think some of us would say that we did not have a containment policy in the 1990s. I would say in the Bush administration we did not have a containment policy during our eight years, and the Biden administration would say they do not have a China containment policy now. So in some sense, I think, some of your comments may be a little troubling to the American audience.”
Kakar termed the rising wave of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism in India a “matter of deep concern” for the international community, including the United States. He linked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ideology of Hindu nationalism with Canada’s recent allegations against India pertaining to the killing of a separatist Sikh leader on its soil.