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Given The Global Power Shifts, Pakistan Must Review Its Foreign Policy Choices

It seems that People’s Republic of China and Russian Federation are still waiting on the foreign policy stance of Biden Administration while at the same time, United States, Europe and the whole world is coping with the pandemic shocks.

Now, China and Russia are trying to find out the common ground to counter the US strategic interests in South East Asia.

China has not only overcome the pandemic in a very short period but its economy has shown a significant and consistent boom. On the other hand, world economies are still tangling with pandemic led shocks. Given its size and connectivity with outside world, China’s economic boom has a positive and long lasting effect on the world economy.

China has not only successfully invented the pandemic vaccine but also exported it to Pakistan and the neighbouring countries and later to the whole world. It has not shown any notable response to the change of regime in the United States although during the Trump regime both nations were at a trade war. But this is also true that due to heavy taxes on Chinese commodities within US, there was a significant rise in domestic production which supported the local industry of US and ultimately raised the employment opportunites.

Now the Chinese regime wants to end the trade war with the new Biden administration. Similarly, the Biden administration will also  normalize its relations with China. It will do so not at the cost of trade imbalance, which as a matter of fact started during the obama administration and had adverse effects on the US economy.

The United States will not only secure its economic interests with China but in South East Asia as well through a calculated approach. It is worth noting that Japan and South Korea are strong allies of the United States in the region. The new emerging economies of Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam also tend to be in the US camp.

The Biden administration will also follow the same strategic policy of a “Nuclear free zone” in the Korean penninsula which was initiated by the former US President Donald Trumph. Japan and North Korea have played a vital role in this strategic plan. Mr. Joe Biden also knows the importance of Japan in the region because he was a part of the plan during Obama administration. The Obama adminstration had taken some important strategic decisions in this regard. It provided military assistance to Japan and had taken a keen interest in promoting Japan – India relations.

Therefore, to contain China in South East Asia, the US will capitalize on strong alliances in the whole region from India to Japan. After taking oath as President, Joe Biden called Indian Prime Minister Narindera Modi. If India follows the US strategic plans, then it will definitely get concessions on different fronts.

Keeping in view this perspective, the Chinese president has some serious reservations especialy on the militarizaton of the region. But at the same time, he does not want to escalate the situation in the region and wants to normalize trade relations with Japan. The North Korean president met with Chinese leadership before his scheduled meeting with presidnet Trump. So at this stage, it is not easy to deny the Chinese influence in the region.

After the demise of Castro and the end of the Vitenam war, the role of Russia in the region seemed to vanish but Russia has regained its role in the Middle East after the second tenure of Obama presidency. The US stopped aiding Syrian opposition and Russia fully supported president Assad’s regime which ultimately resulted in the defeat of Syrian opposition.

Former US President Mr Donald Trump reshaped its strategic policy in the Middle East and not only improved its relations with Saudia Arabia and the Arab world but also played a vital role in promoting diplomatic ties between Israel and the Arab world. But the Biden administration wants to review the nuclear deal with Iran if Iran stops the enrichment of uranium. On the other hand, Russia supported the nuclear deal of Iran and later both Iran and Russia backed the Assad regime and were part of joint military adventures in the region.

Russian Federation is also building strong military and technological ties with Israel and China is following suit. Moreover, Arab countries are one of the biggest markets of Chinese products. Saudia Arabia is one of the key suppliers of oil to the China. China is keen to further its relevance in the Middle East.

In case of a new nuclear deal with the United States, Russia and China would need to be very careful in considering the interests of their allies in the Middle East. At the same time, Arab-Israel relations will have an impact on international politics. Pakistan also needs to review its foreign policy choices keeping in view the regional and global politics.

The withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan will create a space for regional actors like Russia, China, India and Pakistan. They would attempt to secure their interests and thus, a competitive environment will be a new regional reality. India has been actively building ties with Afghan government through development projects. China has its influence in Afghanistan through Pakistan. In the future, it is highly likely that the two will work together to secure their interests in Afghanistan. It will be a tough challenge for Pakistan to retain its influence across the western border due to competition from India.

Keeping in view the regional and global dynamics, Islamabad needs to review its foreign policy choices to uphold its national interest.

 

 

 

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Naya Daur