Pakistan, USA and China

The relationship between Pakistan and US hit a new low under Imran Khan. On a high, accusing US of conspiracy to remove him from premiership-this in no way endeared him to them. His continuing accusations addressed to different people and entities without any base or proof, only prove one thing. He is not a reliable partner. He changes narratives as suited to him. His accusations have increased hatred against USA among his followers, which are substantial.

For the future, let us take a look at some ground realities.

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First, US future alignment is compatible with India not Pakistan. As CPEC is a new era of economic outreach by China. Interestingly, China has opened its first Consulate in the port city of Bandar Abbas. A 25-year strategic pact was signed between Iran and China. China declared developing the Makran Coast. ‘Tehran will receive 400 billion dollars in investment for infrastructure projects.’ [India, Armenia discuss using Chabahar port to boost connectivity (2021) Hindustan Times.]

Second, CPEC be a vibrant part of China’s outreach by not only beefing up security measures but also cutting through the red tapes’, involved in awarding of contracts to the Chinese.

Third, Pakistan must maintain good relationship both with US and China, Pakistan’s balance needs to manage bilateral relationship with both cleverly as both have been strategic in different areas of Pakistan’s needs.

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Fourth, the US-China rivalry, is not only placing pressures on Pakistan but also impacting her relationship towards other countries of the region. An increased nexus between India and US increases sensitivities between Pakistan and India. It also steps up intelligence and military capabilities on both sides. ‘Yet, while India’s determination to check Chinese power may be hardening, its capacity to do so seems to be faltering. India’s economic woes, compulsion to divert military resources to its land borders with China, and deepening dependence on Russia are among the factors limiting prospects for synergy with America’s Indo-Pacific approach.’ [ Sameer Lalwani, “Revelations and Opportunities: What the United States Can Learn from the Sino-Indian Crisis,” War on the Rocks, July 10, 2020]

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Fifth, Pakistan will be well advised to strike a balance with the super powers, super power to be and other regional players while constantly negotiating its way forward. Any effort to change its alignments to a different block backed by China and including Malaysia. Turkey and Iran from the prevalent one that is U.S aligned including UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia shall backfire.  This makeover will be a complete departure from the national economic interests of Pakistan.

So, the ball is in the US court to determine upon areas of cooperation with Pakistan. Backdoor channel to keep the navigation away from public eye. Deciding upon a module that addresses important yet ‘benign’ areas of cooperation. It can be female education, gender equality, empowering transgender youth, trade and so on.

Sixth, it will be in Pakistan’s favor to accept help and monitoring in these areas that make up the very social and economic fabric of Pakistan.

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The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

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