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Indo-Pacific

Pakistan pivots to center as US and China vie for regional supremacy

Islamabad attempts peace with India, wary of being seen as Beijing's proxy

Pakistan's most powerful man Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa is seen at a military parade in Islamabad, Pakistan.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- Even though he wasn't supposed to smoke on the flight, the two-star general was doing it anyway. And nobody onboard, not even the crew, would dare stop him.

It was 2017, and Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, then the chief spokesperson of the Pakistan Army, the world's sixth-largest and only nuclear-armed Islamic military in the world, was on board a Pakistan International Airlines flight, flying back to Islamabad from London.

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