Pakistan’s place in today’s geopolitical transition
The deterioration of China-US relations over the past two years, the latter declaring China its strategic rival and the trade war between the two, has thrown the entire world in geopolitical transition.
With the US enveloped in political and economic crises, its global primacy stands disputed and it now appears China will soon surpass it as the world’s foremost economy with a technological lead no less.
From a geopolitical standpoint, the strategies being employed to contain China and Russia reflect classic power-play, are unlikely to succeed, and might instead imperil global peace. For example, using maritime dominance as a tool to resist Eurasian integration and contain the rise of mainland powers is simply not going to work.
The new evolution of global society has been caused by changes in demography, generational shifts, technological advances and structural change in the world economy.
This changing world order with uncertainties relating to US global policies and outlook have caused anxiety in governments and economies across the world. But the strategic competition between the US and China cannot mask the huge interdependence between the two. Even now, it would be a rookie mistake to consider China-US relations as a zero-sum game.
The fact of the matter is, things have changed but not entirely. From North Korea to Afghanistan, all conflicts and issues continue to require cooperation between China, the US and Russia. In Pakistan’s immediate region too, this cooperation is desperately needed to help the cause of peace and reconciliation underway in Afghanistan. With a negotiated political settlement on the horizon coming out of talks between the Afghan Taliban and the US, Pakistan-US relations will also undoubtedly get better.
Regionally, Pakistan has been making serious overtures to prioritize its economic development and improve relations with its neighbors.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed this desire for mutually beneficial relations with the US, especially as Pakistan might be the one actor that can play a pivotal role in helping with deteriorating US-China relations.
Since February’s Pulwama attack, Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed states have remained in a tense stand-off with India persistently rejecting avenues for de-escalation and the resolution of the Kashmir dispute seemingly the only key to lasting peace.
India’s declared policy, now on record, is to isolate Pakistan with reports that it is actively trying to subvert CPEC projects, and is imposing global power-play on the fragile strategic balance in South Asia. But by opposing the belt and road initiative, India loses a precious opportunity for its own development and may cut itself off from the Eurasian development mainstream entirely.
Regionally, Pakistan has been making serious overtures to prioritize its economic development and improve relations with its neighbors. On Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has spoken about tranquility and open borders. On India, he has signaled a determined effort to improve relations including normalizing trade. The fact of the matter is, a peaceful and progressive South Asia that is economically well-integrated can open huge prospects for development and economic opportunities to the world.
For Pakistan, emerging geopolitical scenarios present both challenges and opportunities. But the order of the day remains to maintain strategic stability in South Asia and pursuing an enlightened vision for mutually beneficial cooperation; one that advances the socio-economic development of our people but also the people of the entire Indian Ocean region.
— Salman Bashir is a Pakistani diplomat who served as the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.