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Khan’s politics has reduced geopolitical space for Pakistan

Khan’s politics has reduced geopolitical space for Pakistan​

Ejaz Haider
10TH APR, 2022. 10:15 AM

Ejaz-Haider-BW-e1647417864298.jpg


The tenuous balance Pakistan was trying to create in a world spiralling into peer competition, alliance politics and rival blocs has been nearly destroyed because of the kinks of domestic politics. From hereon, regaining that balance, if at all, will not only be greatly difficult, it might prove well-nigh impossible.

But before we get to what has happened and why, it is instructive to cast a glance at what’s happening in the world and what kind of challenges the country faces.

Since Donald Trump’s presidential tenure, relations between the United States and China have moved from wary engagement and rivalry to near-adversarial competition. The shift that began with Trump has continued under President Joe Biden’s administration and is underpinned by bipartisan support. In other words, this trend will continue both for reasons that inhere in the structures of great power rivalry as also because of other developments.

One such development, violent, is Russia-Ukraine war. While it might appear that the ongoing conflict hogs the policy attention and news cycles and attention has diverted from US-China rivalry, the ultimate result of the war would be to further cement alliances and bloc geopolitics and return China to sharper salience.

Reason: the war has served to give fillip to a broader and broadening Western alliance at three levels: one, states that did not join the US-led NATO even during the Cold War — Sweden, Finland — have expressed interest in being part of that military alliance. On April 6, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that “NATO would quickly welcome Finland and Sweden into its ranks with open arms if they decided to apply.”

Two, the European Union has realised that interstate war can come to Europe, as it has, and the bloc has acted with great cohesion. This has resulted in lessening appeal for Eurosceptic parties, fiscal relaxation with reference to defence spending and gradual weaning off from Russian energy supplies through proposals such as REPowerEU, a three-step plan to reduce “Russian energy imports by 65 percent over the remainder of this year and completely before 2030.”

Three, EU has emerged as a strong bloc in its own right in two areas where it has traditionally followed the US: foreign policy and security. This trend will likely continue, especially with reference to boosting European military capabilities and EU’s more assertive approach to foreign policy, singly and in tandem with the U.S.

While Russia’s aggression has helped catalyse these developments and the current focus is on Kremlin, this newfound European cohesion and a realisation that Europe must be prepared for conflict will also impact EU-China relations. This was on display at the virtual summit last week between top EU diplomats and Chinese leadership. Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the afternoon session with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell.

Earlier in the day, the EU representatives also spoke with Li Keqiang, premier of China’s state council. Li said that China “opposes division of blocs and taking sides” and is pushing for peace “in its own way.” Von der Leyen was reported as saying that “We made very clear [that] China should not interfere with our sanctions” and Beijing’s support for Russia “would lead to major reputational damage” for China in Europe. “The European Commission chief said that the EU had not received any explicit assurances from China on the matter.”

This is, however, just one aspect. The much-hailed December 2020 EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), which was principally agreed to but awaits ratification and has had a rocky journey since March 2021, seems less certain now. China itself is focusing more on economic ties in the region through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). China and EU are also locked in a cycle of retaliatory sanctions. Going by the EU’s Ukraine experience and plans (the U.S has already taken measures to isolate and sanction Russia) to reduce reliance on energy imports from Russia and trade with that country, it appears highly likely that the European bloc will begin to lower reliance on trade links with China and relocate their Chinese supply chains. The process began during the pandemic but could now be informed by the exigencies of geopolitical developments.

The situation is further complicated by Russia’s dismal and incompetent military performance against determined Ukrainian resistance. With Russian military weaknesses exposed and its economy heavily-sanctioned, a weakened Russia has no real fallback position other than China. But while Russia will have to play second fiddle to China, it will also weigh Beijing down with the heavy cross it (Russia) bears now. It remains to be seen how China will calculate the cost of having Russia as a junior partner in its competition with the West.

All of this complicates matters for Pakistan, already reeling under political instability and polarisation, a constitutional crisis and depressed economy. Pakistan has a strategic relationship with China, but it is also heavily reliant on Western states — U.S, UK, EU — for its exports and help with international financial institutions, including the IMF. According to Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry, “Bilateral trade between Pakistan and the European Union went up by 78 percent to €12.2 billion in 2021 from €6.9bn in 2013, mainly due to implementation of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) plus scheme from January 2014.”

The United States remains Pakistan’s largest trading partner with 18.6 percent share of Pakistan’s exports. Additionally, it has influence with institutions and states that have helped Pakistan’s economy during the country’s recurring economic problems. As I mentioned in a Working Paper for Tabadlab:

“Pakistan has two primary concerns with reference to growing US-China tensions. Will it have to choose between the U.S and China? While Pakistan has a deep strategic partnership with China, Islamabad also has a long history of relations with the U.S. During the 1950s and 60s, Pakistan was referred to as the most allied ally. Despite ups and downs in US-Pakistan relations, the U.S remains Pakistan’s biggest export market. Pakistan’s military in the first four decades of the country’s existence, relied heavily on the U.S for military supplies. If relations between the U.S and China deteriorate further, the number of issues on which Pakistan will be expected by both the U.S and China to side with them will inevitably increase. If the U.S adds China to its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, Pakistan could face sanctions for its military exports from China and other joint-production programmes.”

This is not far-fetched, as we have seen with reference to the US/UK/EU concerns regarding Pakistan’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The tenuous balance I referred to in the opening is a real problem. I might also add that I have not referred to a number of other important states — Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, Australia — and their alliances with the West that are likely to further complicate the exercise of foreign policy and the choices Pakistan can make.

It is in this landscape that former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to drag the country’s relations with the U.S into domestic politics, as also negative statements with reference to Western states, has destroyed the balance which, ironically, was created by the hard work of some in his own government. Whoever now comes into power — and it could well be Khan — will have to do damage control and that, given the constraints of Pakistan’s economy, will further erode space for Pakistan to make independent choices. The biggest irony in all this is that Khan, in trying to present himself as the man with no external equities, has ended up reducing geopolitical space for the country.


The writer is a journalist with interest in foreign and security policies

 

Yousafzai_M

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What exactly has Imran Khan done to 'damage the balace'?

All he did was push for respect for democracy in Pakistan. After all thats what the US and EU promote everywhere don't they?
 

MIRauf

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What exactly has Imran Khan done to 'damage the balace'?

All he did was push for respect for democracy in Pakistan. After all thats what the US and EU promote everywhere don't they?
He didn't choose a certain camp, he tried to play balance for best interest / self respect and lost. Although COAS says no camp but has aligned itself to one.

To have similar independent foreign policy like let's say India, Pak needs strong economy which it lacks.
 

GriffinsRule

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He didn't choose a certain camp, he tried to play balance for best interest / self respect and lost. Although COAS says no camp but has aligned itself to one.

To have similar independent foreign policy like let's say India, Pak needs strong economy which it lacks.
Which camp is India in pray tell.
 

Patriot forever

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Khan’s politics has reduced geopolitical space for Pakistan​

Ejaz Haider
10TH APR, 2022. 10:15 AM

Ejaz-Haider-BW-e1647417864298.jpg


The tenuous balance Pakistan was trying to create in a world spiralling into peer competition, alliance politics and rival blocs has been nearly destroyed because of the kinks of domestic politics. From hereon, regaining that balance, if at all, will not only be greatly difficult, it might prove well-nigh impossible.

But before we get to what has happened and why, it is instructive to cast a glance at what’s happening in the world and what kind of challenges the country faces.

Since Donald Trump’s presidential tenure, relations between the United States and China have moved from wary engagement and rivalry to near-adversarial competition. The shift that began with Trump has continued under President Joe Biden’s administration and is underpinned by bipartisan support. In other words, this trend will continue both for reasons that inhere in the structures of great power rivalry as also because of other developments.

One such development, violent, is Russia-Ukraine war. While it might appear that the ongoing conflict hogs the policy attention and news cycles and attention has diverted from US-China rivalry, the ultimate result of the war would be to further cement alliances and bloc geopolitics and return China to sharper salience.

Reason: the war has served to give fillip to a broader and broadening Western alliance at three levels: one, states that did not join the US-led NATO even during the Cold War — Sweden, Finland — have expressed interest in being part of that military alliance. On April 6, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that “NATO would quickly welcome Finland and Sweden into its ranks with open arms if they decided to apply.”

Two, the European Union has realised that interstate war can come to Europe, as it has, and the bloc has acted with great cohesion. This has resulted in lessening appeal for Eurosceptic parties, fiscal relaxation with reference to defence spending and gradual weaning off from Russian energy supplies through proposals such as REPowerEU, a three-step plan to reduce “Russian energy imports by 65 percent over the remainder of this year and completely before 2030.”

Three, EU has emerged as a strong bloc in its own right in two areas where it has traditionally followed the US: foreign policy and security. This trend will likely continue, especially with reference to boosting European military capabilities and EU’s more assertive approach to foreign policy, singly and in tandem with the U.S.

While Russia’s aggression has helped catalyse these developments and the current focus is on Kremlin, this newfound European cohesion and a realisation that Europe must be prepared for conflict will also impact EU-China relations. This was on display at the virtual summit last week between top EU diplomats and Chinese leadership. Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the afternoon session with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell.

Earlier in the day, the EU representatives also spoke with Li Keqiang, premier of China’s state council. Li said that China “opposes division of blocs and taking sides” and is pushing for peace “in its own way.” Von der Leyen was reported as saying that “We made very clear [that] China should not interfere with our sanctions” and Beijing’s support for Russia “would lead to major reputational damage” for China in Europe. “The European Commission chief said that the EU had not received any explicit assurances from China on the matter.”

This is, however, just one aspect. The much-hailed December 2020 EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), which was principally agreed to but awaits ratification and has had a rocky journey since March 2021, seems less certain now. China itself is focusing more on economic ties in the region through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). China and EU are also locked in a cycle of retaliatory sanctions. Going by the EU’s Ukraine experience and plans (the U.S has already taken measures to isolate and sanction Russia) to reduce reliance on energy imports from Russia and trade with that country, it appears highly likely that the European bloc will begin to lower reliance on trade links with China and relocate their Chinese supply chains. The process began during the pandemic but could now be informed by the exigencies of geopolitical developments.

The situation is further complicated by Russia’s dismal and incompetent military performance against determined Ukrainian resistance. With Russian military weaknesses exposed and its economy heavily-sanctioned, a weakened Russia has no real fallback position other than China. But while Russia will have to play second fiddle to China, it will also weigh Beijing down with the heavy cross it (Russia) bears now. It remains to be seen how China will calculate the cost of having Russia as a junior partner in its competition with the West.

All of this complicates matters for Pakistan, already reeling under political instability and polarisation, a constitutional crisis and depressed economy. Pakistan has a strategic relationship with China, but it is also heavily reliant on Western states — U.S, UK, EU — for its exports and help with international financial institutions, including the IMF. According to Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry, “Bilateral trade between Pakistan and the European Union went up by 78 percent to €12.2 billion in 2021 from €6.9bn in 2013, mainly due to implementation of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) plus scheme from January 2014.”

The United States remains Pakistan’s largest trading partner with 18.6 percent share of Pakistan’s exports. Additionally, it has influence with institutions and states that have helped Pakistan’s economy during the country’s recurring economic problems. As I mentioned in a Working Paper for Tabadlab:

“Pakistan has two primary concerns with reference to growing US-China tensions. Will it have to choose between the U.S and China? While Pakistan has a deep strategic partnership with China, Islamabad also has a long history of relations with the U.S. During the 1950s and 60s, Pakistan was referred to as the most allied ally. Despite ups and downs in US-Pakistan relations, the U.S remains Pakistan’s biggest export market. Pakistan’s military in the first four decades of the country’s existence, relied heavily on the U.S for military supplies. If relations between the U.S and China deteriorate further, the number of issues on which Pakistan will be expected by both the U.S and China to side with them will inevitably increase. If the U.S adds China to its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, Pakistan could face sanctions for its military exports from China and other joint-production programmes.”

This is not far-fetched, as we have seen with reference to the US/UK/EU concerns regarding Pakistan’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The tenuous balance I referred to in the opening is a real problem. I might also add that I have not referred to a number of other important states — Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, Australia — and their alliances with the West that are likely to further complicate the exercise of foreign policy and the choices Pakistan can make.

It is in this landscape that former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to drag the country’s relations with the U.S into domestic politics, as also negative statements with reference to Western states, has destroyed the balance which, ironically, was created by the hard work of some in his own government. Whoever now comes into power — and it could well be Khan — will have to do damage control and that, given the constraints of Pakistan’s economy, will further erode space for Pakistan to make independent choices. The biggest irony in all this is that Khan, in trying to present himself as the man with no external equities, has ended up reducing geopolitical space for the country.


The writer is a journalist with interest in foreign and security policies



Actually not true he opened and expanded it, opened doors which were previously closed.

Its that independent foreign policy that cost him his seat.

His entire policy revolved around Pakistan interests which unlike in the past revolved around someone else's interests.
 

khansaheeb

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Very true. Politics needs politicians. There is a way to talk. That's the reason why an engineering mindset person cannot do a salesmanship job.
This is just an opinion of the Wadera class. US of the 50s is not the US of today. The world has changed from multipolar to unipolar to multipolar again. yes, we were expecting a reaction from those who aspire for world domination and we certainly got it in Ukraine. The new world dynamics was predictable and one proposition was the TRIPC block as a counter weight to the Western colonial enterprises. India is allowing itself to be used for it's own agenda and will sooner or later rise up as economically independent like China. The reason why the Pakistani ruling class is siding with the US is because of their investments, family links and kickbacks they get from the US. The PA high level military personnel too have huge business links within the US and don't want it compromised for any reason, even at the cost of Pakistan. The corrupt class in Pakistan have followed the path of personal gain at the cost of the Pakistani nation egged on by foreign entities. People of Pakistan have the right to decide which blocks or countries they want to be aligned to and it is done through the ballot box.
 

hussain0216

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IKs foreign policy is probably the best foreign policy we have had for decades

Put Pakistan first, ask others what they will do for us before we allow them to ask anything of us


Stand up for our country, faith and people

Treat enemies like they deserve to be treated



It was so refreshing for once
 

khail007

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In Pakistan usually, a criminal mindset prevails in politics, they know how to bend internationally and how to manage the institution in their favor and how to govern the slaves.

All the expenditures to manage greedy goons and payments to them were recovered in just a few hours by raising the cost of sugar to Rs 10/-. Such mindset prevails - Very true.

All sugar mills are the property of these corrupt politicos in opposition.

These corrupt leeches will suck the blood of Pakistan till the last drop else to prevent this people are to proactively resist them.

 

MIRauf

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Which camp is India in pray tell.
What answer would like to hear ? obviously you didn't like what I wrote or it so seems or perhaps I miss read you.

PS: As a Punjabi decedent, I am on neither side nor do I feel that I have to be. Zero, zilch side for either political party. I would just like to see betterment of Pakistan and Pakistanis. I highlighted the answer to your question reluctantly, although they 'India' are being pressured to be in one. However, I have this feeling ( sixth sense that nothing good will come off it or may be I am wrong about it, my sixth sense that is, about my answer to your Q ), or perhaps you will surprise me in a pleasant way.
 
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GriffinsRule

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What answer would like to hear ? obviously you didn't like what I wrote or it so seems or perhaps I miss read you.

PS: As a Punjabi decedent, I am on neither side nor do I feel that I have to be. Zero, zilch side for either political party. I would just like to see betterment of Pakistan and Pakistanis. I highlighted the answer to your question reluctantly, although they 'India' are being pressured to be in one. However, I have this feeling ( sixth sense that nothing good will come off it or may be I am wrong about it, my sixth sense that is, about my answer to your Q ), or perhaps you will surprise me in a pleasant way.

I was actually agreeing with you but it didn't come across that way. When you mentioned IK didn't choose a certain camp but the COAS seemingly has, I was posing the question as to the indicate how poorly the Army has chosen. We give too much deference to the idea of a strong economy as a necessity for an independent foreign policy. While it helps, its certainly does not preclude countries from making choices in their own best interest.

India, whether now or 50 years ago, when its economy was nothing to write home about, chose to have a non-aligned policy without picking camps and it benefited from both (I feel people here think Pakistan will suffer from both if it does the same).

COAS's immature address crying about not getting x, y or z from US or Europe shows how limited his actual scope of interest is and how shortsighted his view of Pakistan's long-term development is. It was embarrassing to the nth degree to see this lack of vision from our extension in chief and I am sure the same ideas/thought process is ingrained in the top army brass.

This leads me to think two things: First Pakistan army is actually afraid of getting into any conflict with India. The generals are not fit for fighting and leading a major war or confrontation (regardless of how the lower cadre feel or fare). They are content with using India as a boogy-man to keep themselves secure in their role as some bulwark against Indian invasion or whatever, which always seem imminent but is not actually happening. Indians are smarter than that and have been bleeding and killing us using proxies for the last 20years and at the same time telling us to do more now along with the Americans. This is how inept our military has become ... we can't even respond to their proxies much less pay them back in the same coin.

My second point being that bitching about not getting engines or whatever else shows how low they set their sights and goals. If it is such an extensional threat to the nation, they ought to fully commit to self-reliance and start industrialization of the country. 220 million people and yet we don't manufacture anything of note because they rather take the easy way out and buy everything while getting rich on commissions as well and then complain when other refuse to sell you stuff. We will be lucky if Chinese, after hearing him complain about their quality, they don't cancel the sub-contract completely and let Pakistan figure out its own shit.
 

Madni Bappa

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Getting embarrassed like this reduces your geopolitical space. Your overlords are incompetent and have become wealthy by stealing.

Wow just wow. In Twitter spaces some ex generals now have even replied in same tone. God help us man real sad situation 🥺

I was actually agreeing with you but it didn't come across that way. When you mentioned IK didn't choose a certain camp but the COAS seemingly has, I was posing the question as to the indicate how poorly the Army has chosen. We give too much deference to the idea of a strong economy as a necessity for an independent foreign policy. While it helps, its certainly does not preclude countries from making choices in their own best interest.

India, whether now or 50 years ago, when its economy was nothing to write home about, chose to have a non-aligned policy without picking camps and it benefited from both (I feel people here think Pakistan will suffer from both if it does the same).

COAS's immature address crying about not getting x, y or z from US or Europe shows how limited his actual scope of interest is and how shortsighted his view of Pakistan's long-term development is. It was embarrassing to the nth degree to see this lack of vision from our extension in chief and I am sure the same ideas/thought process is ingrained in the top army brass.

This leads me to think two things: First Pakistan army is actually afraid of getting into any conflict with India. The generals are not fit for fighting and leading a major war or confrontation (regardless of how the lower cadre feel or fare). They are content with using India as a boogy-man to keep themselves secure in their role as some bulwark against Indian invasion or whatever, which always seem imminent but is not actually happening. Indians are smarter than that and have been bleeding and killing us using proxies for the last 20years and at the same time telling us to do more now along with the Americans. This is how inept our military has become ... we can't even respond to their proxies much less pay them back in the same coin.

My second point being that bitching about not getting engines or whatever else shows how low they set their sights and goals. If it is such an extensional threat to the nation, they ought to fully commit to self-reliance and start industrialization of the country. 220 million people and yet we don't manufacture anything of note because they rather take the easy way out and buy everything while getting rich on commissions as well and then complain when other refuse to sell you stuff. We will be lucky if Chinese, after hearing him complain about their quality, they don't cancel the sub-contract completely and let Pakistan figure out its own shit.
Absolutely they also lie about limited resources when theyir people can't even design a basic armoured vehicle or MRAP.
 

PakFactor

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Wow just wow. In Twitter spaces some ex generals now have even replied in same tone. God help us man real sad situation 🥺


Absolutely they also lie about limited resources when theyir people can't even design a basic armoured vehicle or MRAP.

What tone? Example
 

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