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Navigating an unsettled world

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01.06.2020

IN an unsettled world where strategic tensions between big powers are mounting, Pakistan faces daunting foreign policy challenges in a turbulent global and regional environment. The pandemic has injected greater volatility into an international landscape already afflicted by threats to multilateralism, trade and technology wars between big powers and attempts by regional powers to reshape the rules of the game in their neighbourhood.

Understanding the dynamics of a world in disarray where unilateral actions and rejection of international norms by big powers and populist leaders hold sway is important as they have implications for the pursuit of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Four key policy areas pose immediate challenges and have to be simultaneously addressed: 1) Navigating the US-China confrontation 2) Dealing with occupied Kashmir and managing relations with an implacably hostile India 3) Helping Afghanistan win the peace but also preparing for less hopeful scenarios 4) Balancing relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Rising tensions between the US and China have a direct bearing on Pakistan. Even as Islamabad does not want this stand-off to affect its relations with either of the two countries, that is easier said than done. What has been described as a new cold war will intensify in a US election year when President Donald Trump has made China-bashing a central plank of his re-election campaign. He is both playing off a bipartisan political consensus and fortifying anti-China public sentiment that preceded the pandemic and has been strengthened by it.

Pakistan faces daunting foreign policy challenges in a turbulent environment.

The pandemic has also reinforced US plans to reduce economic dependence on........

© Dawn


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