Great Power Rivalry in Indian Ocean: Implications and Options for Pakistan

  • Ahmad Ibrahim Research Associate at Pakistan Navy War College (PNWC), Lahore
Keywords: Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Quad, AUKUS, Strategic Stability, Balance of Power, Security Dilemma, Arms Race


The Indian Ocean region holds immense significance due to its vital maritime trade routes and abundant natural resources. With intensifying China – U.S. competition for power in Indo-Pacific region, the geopolitical landscape in Indian Ocean is getting increasingly volatile. This research article delves into the geopolitical and strategic significance of the Indian Ocean and its evolving dynamics, primarily focusing on the perspectives of major global players: the USA, China, and India, and its impact on Pakistan. The study explores major developments currently taking place in Indian Ocean including China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Quad alliance, AUKUS agreement, Indo-U.S. strategic cooperation, India's assertive naval buildup, and emergence of new form of asymmetric threats in maritime domain. In the backdrop of neorealist “balance of power theory”, the research elaborates how the hegemonic power competition is upsetting the balance of power, intensifying security dilemma, and igniting arms race in Indian Ocean region. These developments potentially undermine strategic stability in Indian Ocean which could eventually lead to conflicts. The research specifically examines the economic, political, and strategic implications of intensifying power rivalry in Indian Ocean on Pakistan. In addition the study also proposes feasible options for Pakistan to counter the destabilizing consequences of power politics in Indian Ocean.