India’s recent increased investment to improve its naval capacity will be seen as a threat by Pakistan, but not much can be done about this unless the country starts investing heavily in improving its sea power. In military matters, the armed forces’ naval department lies virtually ignored compared to other arms of defence. However, even though experts on this side might be getting perturbed by the India’s increasing naval capacity, for once, trumping Pakistan has really not crossed the minds of the top Indian naval brass. The Indian navy far surpassed Pakistan’s seafaring capacities long ago, and an increased investment in this sector has nothing to do with us. China’s investment into Gwadar, Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and Sanodia deepwater port in Bangladesh is a means of opening up routes along the Indian ocean and to counter Western pressure to keep expansionism to a minimum in the South China Sea. The rationale behind this is sound on the Chinese side; if Chinese influence is expanding along to fronts, it will be harder for any rivals to keep it in check.

In steps India, as the only viable candidate to oppose this growing influence. It is obvious that India’s improving ties with the US are predicated on the former’s potential ability to counter China’s sea power in the east. The disputed Paracel Islands among others, and the suspected militarisation of one of the islands by China is only one of the many fears of the US with regards to China’s growing power in the east. India is seen as the perfect counter-balance to this in this region, considering the US can only commit so much of its naval power so far away from home. The joint naval exercise planned for later this year will have Japan, India and the US as participants. The inclusion of India in particular is a clear indication of it looking to set itself against China.

It is important to draw a distinction for Pakistan at this juncture, regarding its relationship with both neighbours. While obviously maintaining a close alliance with China is paramount, there is no point in looking to openly challenge India in a matter in which Pakistan is only relevant by association. Since this battle is not ours, but is linked to CPEC and China’s investment in Pakistan, the smart thing to do for this side would be mind its own business, and quietly focus on the developmental advantages of this mega-project. Meanwhile China and India can keep fighting over regional supremacy for the region, with the former much more likely to come out victorious due to the power it has already managed to accumulate.