LAHORE: Canadian historian and professor of history at Oxford University, Margaret Macmillan sat down with F S Ajazuddin to discuss the relations between countries in one of the most contentious parts of the world: South East Asia.
Starting with a slideshow, F S Ajazuddin introduced the many conflicts between India, Pakistan, and China, elaborating on the complex mesh of foreign relations between the three geographically and economically strategic states.
The conversation then moved on to Professor Macmillan’s book, “The week that changed the world, Nixon & Mao.” Reading passages from the book, Ajazuddin illustrated the detailed character analyses Margaret had made of Chairman Mao, President Nixon, and Secretary Kissinger.
Hampered by a sore throat, Macmillan was unable to say much and could only add periodically to Ajazuddin who dominated most of the session, but thoroughly involved the crowd with the many quips he made and the tales he told.
The two also talked in particular detail about the role of the Soviet Union in shaping relations between the countries of the region in the cold war and how Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 had shaped the world in many ways.
However, the conversation was one of the most relevant at the entire event as the two historians talked about the historical relation between Pakistan and China, how deep this bond between the nations goes, and exactly what the limits of this alliance are. Perhaps the most interesting analogy was when Professor Macmillan described Pakistan as “China’s Israel.”
The topic of CPEC came up quite naturally and the session proved to be an excellent exercise in international relations and diplomacy. The explanation of what China and Pakistan stand to gain from CPEC was laid out in detail. The question of whether Chinese economic expansion was in any sense similar to colonialism was also brought up and in response to a question asking whether “China will be the new East India Company?” the professor replied, “Well in many ways it already is.”