Pakistan is currently facing major economic and political crises. These are partly of its own making but mostly the result of external shocks in terms of commodity prices that have exacerbated the nation's balance of payments.  The Pakistani military's unnecessary meddling in politics and resulting political instability have not helped either. The unprecedented floods in the country have further added to the severity of the challenges.  

US and China Compete For Influence in Pakistan. Source: Wall Street Journal

Pakistan's multidimensional crisis has spurred many in India and elsewhere to predict the Pakistani state's imminent collapse. Some disgruntled Pakistanis have also jumped on the doomsayers' bandwagon. What is often ignored in such oft-repeated dire predictions is Pakistan's size and its geopolitical importance in the world. Indian analyst Amit Bhandari has summarized it well in a recent Hindustan Times Op-ed: "Despite the severity of the challenges, Pakistan is unlikely to collapse — largely because of its geostrategic importance. A bailout by the IMF or friendly countries will happen".  Let me expand on Bhandari's comments:

1. The collapse of a large country like Pakistan will be very destabilizing for the South Asia region and the world. Pakistan is the world's 5th most populous country. It has a large military armed with nuclear weapons.

2. Pakistan's location is geopolitically very important. It borders Afghanistan, China, India, Iran and the Indian Ocean.  It has a coastline next to the sea lanes that transport the bulk of the world's oil. It is connected to multiple strategically important regions of the world:  Central Asia, Middle East, South Asia and West Asia.  

3. China, the United States and Gulf Arabs have expressed a strong interest in maintaining Pakistan's stability. All of them are offering assistance to Pakistan.  China will continue to support Pakistan as it tries to stabilize its financial situation, state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying, according to Reuters. Prince Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has offered to increase loans and investments of over $10 billion to Pakistan, according to Bloomberg.  American officials have said they support the IMF assistance to Pakistan, according to Dawn newspaper

4. Pakistan has received pledges of $10 billion worth of loans and grants to rebuild after devastating floods last year, according to Bloomberg News. The amount pledged exceeds the $8 billion that Pakistan sought at the United Nations Donors Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Debt to GDP Ratios. India 91%, Pakistan 87%. Source: Visual Capitalist

Pakistanis are no strangers to forecasts of their country's collapse. There have been many such forecasts over the last 75 years, starting with its birth.  Western and Indian forecasts of Pakistan's collapse are not new.  Lord Mountbatten, the British Viceroy of India who oversaw the partition agreed with the assessment of Pakistan made by India's leaders when he described Pakistan as a "Nissen hut" or a "temporary tent" in a conversation with Jawarhar Lal Nehru.

Here's the exact quote from Mountbatten: "administratively it [wa]s the difference between putting up a permanent building, a nissen hut or a tent. As far as Pakistan is concerned we are putting up a tent. We can do no more." The Brits and the Hindu leadership of India both fully expected Pakistan to fold soon after partition.

1999 DoD Forecast: Pakistan Disappears by 2015

A 1999 US Defense Department study titled "Asia 2025" forecast Pakistan's collapse by 2015.  It further said that Pakistan would become part of a "South Asian Superstate" controlled by India as a "regional hegemon". Two of the study's contributors were "South Asia experts" of Indian origin. Much of the South Asia section of this study appears to be wishful thinking rather than serious analysis.  Resilient Pakistan has defied this and many other similar forecasts of its demise since its birth. 

Goldman Sachs Forecast Over Next 50 Years

Goldman Sachs analysts Kevin Daly and  Tadas Gedminas project Pakistan's economy to grow to become the world's sixth largest by 2075.  In a research paper titled "The Path to 2075", the authors forecast Pakistan's GDP to rise to $12.7 trillion with per capita income of $27,100.  India’s GDP in 2075 is projected at $52.5 trillion and per capita GDP at $31,300.  Bangladesh is projected to be a $6.3 trillion economy with per capita income of $31,000.  By 2075, China will be the top global economy, followed by India 2nd, US 3rd, Indonesia 4th, Nigeria 5th and Pakistan 6th. The forecast is based primarily on changes in the size of working age populations over the next 50 years.  

OpenAI's ChatGPT on Pakistan's Possible Collapse

There's no question that Pakistan is in the midst of very serious political and economic crises. The nation is deeply divided politically. The country's economic performance is dismal. It is of paramount importance for Pakistanis to come together to deal honestly with their internal political and economic differences. Doing so will help Pakistan's large young population realize their full potential to join the ranks of the world's top ten economies. 

Here's a Wall Street Journal video on US-China Competition in Pakistan:"; title="YouTube video player" width="560"></iframe>" height="315" src="" width="560" style="cursor: move; background-color: #b2b2b2;" /> 

Views: 271

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 28, 2023 at 10:32am

Severe dollar crisis hobbles Bangladesh businesses | Business and Economy News | Al Jazeera

Severe dollar crisis hobbles #Bangladesh businesses.The #import-dependent nation is facing #economic hardship in the wake of #Russia’s invasion of #Ukraine as prices shoot up. #Hasina #Modi | Business and Economy News | Al Jazeera


Dhaka, Bangladesh – Spice trader Mohammed Enayet Ullah has made at least four attempts since November to open a letter of credit to pay for imports of cumin, cardamom and cloves, some of the most essential spices used in Bangladeshi cooking, only to be refused by banks due to a shortage of dollars.

Importers in Bangladesh need to open letters of credit with one of the country’s 61 scheduled banks to buy foreign goods and services. It is essentially a financial contract issued by an importer’s bank that guarantees payment to the seller in dollars. In case a buyer doesn’t pay up, the bank has to take on the liabilities.

But there is a severe shortage of greenbacks in Bangladesh due to its dwindling foreign reserves and a sharp drop in the value of its taka currency against the dollar. In the past six months, Bangladesh’s foreign reserves have dropped below $32bn from $39bn while the value of the taka has fallen by 27 percent from 84 to the dollar to 107.

The South Asian nation has been facing severe economic hardship since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago. In its import-dependent economy, rising global fuel oil and other commodity prices have caused nearly double-digit inflation and depleted foreign reserves.

To protect the declining reserves, the government had stopped all non-essential imports and reduced the supply of dollars to commercial banks. This has not only forced banks to refuse new letters of credit applications but also has made their promised payments to foreign suppliers for previous imports uncertain.

Local media reported that at least 20 banks with negative balances in their foreign currency holdings could not make these payments.

According to Bangladesh Bank, the central bank, the number of new letters of credit slumped 14 percent year-on-year in the July-to-December period, and payments of those debts declined by 9 percent, indicating defaults.

These numbers, however, don’t fully convey the perils of medium-sized importers like Ullah.

Ullah owns the spice trading company Hedayet & Brothers, which usually imports half of its annual $2m of essential spices ahead of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, in which local consumption at least triples in the South Asian nation. But now, with barely a month left until the start of Ramadan, he is worried that a failure to secure new supplies would put a big dent in his balance sheet.

“I will lose a huge business,” Ullah, who also acts as the president of the Bangladesh Spices Traders Association, told Al Jazeera, “Traders will be compelled to increase the prices of spices because of the increasing gap between demand and supply. Ultimately consumers will be the biggest losers.”

Fear of losing credit rating
Large businesses also have not been able to insulate themselves from the dollar crisis. In January, multiple ships carrying goods like sugar and cooking oil for the importer Meghna Group of Industries (MGI), a Bangladeshi conglomerate with $1.2bn in revenues, got stuck in Chattagram port for weeks as the guarantor Agrani Bank couldn’t make the payment to the foreign supplier due to a shortage of dollars. MGI, however, had paid the full amount to the bank for the products in local currency.


“In addition to direct IMF financing, such programmes have a ‘crowding in’ effect as other international lenders will become more amenable to finance the current account deficit of Bangladesh,” said Rahman, who is hopeful that will happen soon.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 2, 2023 at 2:16pm

#China blames ‘certain developed country’ (reference to #US) for #Pakistan’s #economic crisis. US policy is "the main reason behind the financial difficulties of a large number of developing countries including Pakistan" #Ukraine️ #Russia #sanctions

In an apparent reference to the United States, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Thursday said that the financial policies of a ‘certain developed country’ were the main reason behind the financial difficulties of a large number of developing countries including Pakistan and called on concerted efforts of all parties to play a constructive role in the economic and social development of the country.

“It must be pointed out that the financial policy of a certain developed country is the main reason behind the financial difficulties of a large number of developing countries including Pakistan,” Mao Ning said while responding to a question during her regular briefing held at the International Press Centre (IPC) in Beijing.

She said that the West-led commercial creditors and the multilateral financial institutions were the basic creditors for developing countries and called on concerted efforts of all parties to play a constructive role in the economic and social development of Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 3, 2023 at 11:05am

#India’s #Economy Looks Shaky Under the Hood.
The key driver of India’s economy—#domestic consumer #demand—is weakening after a brief post-#pandemic spurt . #Modi #G20Summit

India’s economy is losing steam in the one place that has been the South Asian nation’s strongest bulwark against a possible global recession: robust domestic demand.

India’s economy slowed further in the December quarter, figures released this week showed, as postpandemic pent up demand ebbed and the country’s manufacturing sector continued to weaken. Asia’s third largest economy recorded year-over-year growth of 4.4% last quarter, down from 6.3% in the September quarter.

Weakness in private consumption stood out the most. India’s private consumer spending, which comprises about 60% of India’s gross domestic product, rose just 2.1% year over year, compared with an 8.8% increase in the September quarter. It was mainly hurt by higher interest rates and elevated inflation. Slower growth in rural spending after some pandemic-era subsidies were cut could have also played a role.

Higher borrowing costs will probably continue to pinch pocketbooks, especially in urban areas, as the Reserve Bank of India remains laser-focused on reining in stubborn inflation. It has raised benchmark interest rates by 2.5 percentage points since May last year and will probably hike by another 0.25 point to 6.75% in April, squeezing household budgets further. Despite an aggressive rate-raising cycle, retail inflation jumped to a three-month high of 6.52% in January.

A closer look at other numbers in the GDP data also paints a worrisome picture. Import growth fell more sharply than export growth, again signaling weak domestic demand. And while fixed investment growth was a relative bright spot, it still slowed for the second quarter in a row.

Fizzling momentum at a time of high global economic uncertainty and tightening global financial conditions also spells trouble for the country’s monetary policy stance. A weak external environment wasn’t entirely unexpected, but the emerging evidence of rapidly slowing domestic demand makes the central bank’s job much harder. A heat wave or subpar monsoon could make things even more difficult by hitting agricultural output, and boosting food price inflation.

Nomura economists Sonal Varma and Aurodeep Nandi think markets are still significantly underappreciating the risks to India’s growth. They say the country’s growth cycle has peaked, and a combination of weaker global growth and tight domestic and global financial conditions could spell further trouble for exports, investment and discretionary consumption.

The International Monetary Fund still projects India will be the fastest-growing major economy in 2023—largely on the back of resilient domestic demand. The Indian government forecasts that India will grow 7% in the year ending in March 2023, and another 6.5% the following year.

Those numbers may turn out to be optimistic if private consumption doesn’t pick up the pace again soon.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 5, 2023 at 11:29am

Why Pakistan Cannot Be A Failed State – Analysis

By Ahsan Qazi

Why cannot Pakistan be a failed state? This has been a constant thought and a lingering question in the minds of many Pakistanis and others in the international community. Many would argue, and it appears correctly so, that Pakistan perhaps has failed as a state; however, this is a complex question that cannot be answered with a simple yes.

To truly assess Pakistan’s potential and lay out the possible solutions for Pakistan’s survival, the root causes of Pakistan’s constant political and economic turmoil must be assessed and formally recognized, which will provide the framework for Pakistan’s path to development as a modern state. A sociological perspective is needed to discuss the root causes of Pakistan’s political and economic troubles.

While the current economic crisis of Pakistan cannot be ignored, Pakistan does possess all the key elements to fully develop as a modern nation and save itself from a complete political and economic collapse. First, Pakistan has one of the best strategic geographic locations. Second, the economic opportunity through China is an added improvement to what Pakistan can achieve independently. Third, Balochistan’s mineral riches remain unexplored, which can help Pakistan strengthen its economy. Fourth, Pakistan’s tourism industry remains undeveloped and can further boost Pakistan’s economy.

Additionally, Pakistan has many renewable energy resources. With abundant sunlight all year round and given Pakistan’s high-altitude mountain range, harvesting solar energy is easier. The presence of abundant Lithium in Pakistan and potential wind energy plants that can be made operational are some of the key energy resources that can help Pakistan become fully independent. Finally, Pakistan has the most human resources or manpower.

According to the Human Development Reports, more than half of the population (64%) comprises people aged 15-29. Provided such strengths of Pakistan, for Pakistan to fail as a state would be an absolute tragedy and a massive paradox. The country is just ripe for innovation, ready to unleash its economic potential and join the global economies.

A Sociological Perspective
In 1938, Robert K. Merton discussed the patterns of cultural goals and institution norms in his “Social Structure and Anomie.” Merton stated that amongst the several elements of social and cultural structures, two key elements are very important. The first element, he wrote, “consists of culturally defined goals, purposes and interests, held out as legitimate objectives for all or diversely located members of the society.” He emphasized that while all societies have goals, motivations, and interests that are culturally defined, they are interlinked and involve varied degrees of status (“hierarchy of value”). To which degree? According to Merton, this is a question of empirical fact and can be answered through some hierarchical value. This indicates that not all members of society have the same opportunities to actualize the same values because they are placed differently within the social structure or various classes.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 5, 2023 at 11:29am

Why Pakistan Cannot Be A Failed State – Analysis

By Ahsan Qazi

Merton suggests, “The second element of cultural structure regulates, and controls the acceptable modes of reaching out for the goals. Every social group invariably couples its cultural objectives with regulations, rooted in the mores or institutions, of allowable procedures for moving towards the objectives.” According to Merton’s anomie premise, most people try to legitimately fulfill culturally acceptable objectives; however, people have limitations. Merton claims, “In all instances, the choice of expedients for striving toward cultural goals is limited by institutionalized norms.” Institutionalized norms obstruct people from achieving their cultural goals, which may result in deviation. When access and the means to achieving cultural objectives are denied to entire populations or specific individuals, anomie results. Deviant behavior emerges as a result, characterized by one of the following behaviors: resistance, withdrawal, ritualism, innovation, and/or conformance.

Crime, which Merton terms “aberrant behavior,” develops when social goals are acknowledged as legitimate, but the resources available to accomplish these goals are not available to everyone. Goals and means differ in various ways based on the class. It happens at all levels of society. This difference disorients an individual, leading to social challenges and psychological stress. Merton makes his assertion extremely clear by stating, “It is, indeed, my central hypothesis that aberrant behavior may be regarded sociologically as a symptom of disassociation between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured avenues for realizing these aspirations.” An effective equilibrium is achievable between two elements of social structures if “satisfaction accrue to individuals conforming to both cultural constraints, viz., satisfaction from the achievement of goals and satisfaction emerging directly from the institutionally canalized modes of striving to attain them.” When a balance exists between cultural goals and institutionalized means, everyone has the chance to compete and progress in all strata of society; hence, Socio-structural inequality between the classes is lessened to a great extent and in such a way that “positive incentives for adherence to status obligations are provided for every position [sic] within the distributive order.”

Merton proposed that if an imbalance between individuals’ goals and their status exists, strain results because of exerted pressure. He writes, “Examination of how the social structure operates to exert pressure upon individuals for one or another of these alternative modes of behavior must be prefaced by the observation that people may shift from one alternative to another as they engage in different spheres of social activities.” When people face strain or pressure, people adapt according to one of the five ways:

1. Conformity: The individual pursues cultural goals through socially approved means. According to Merton, “The mesh of expectations constituting every social order is sustained by the model behavior of its members representing conformity to the established, though perhaps secularly changing, cultural patterns.”

2. Innovation: If the individual does not find the legitimate means to pursue goals, the individual “innovates,” which means the individual looks to socially unconventional or unapproved means to obtain culturally approved goals. He mentions, “This response occurs when the individual has assimilated the cultural emphasis upon the goal without equally internalizing the institutional norms governing ways and means for its attainment.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 5, 2023 at 11:30am

Why Pakistan Cannot Be A Failed State – Analysis

By Ahsan Qazi

3. Ritualism: The individual uses the same socially approved means to achieve obscure goals modestly. The individual, in this stage, is “abandoning or scaling down” the “lofty cultural goals’’ and pursuing them in a way where his or her goals can be satisfied. Merton declares, “It is, in short, the mode of adaptation of individually seeking a private [sic] escape from the dangers and frustrations which seem to them inherent in the competition for major cultural goals by abandoning these goals and clinging all the more closely to the safe routines and the institutional norms.”

4. Retreatism: The individual rejects cultural goals and the means to obtain it. He then finds a way to escape it. Merton proposes that in this category, “They have relinquished culturally prescribed goals, and their behavior does not accord with the institutional norms.” Furthermore, “Defeatism, quietism, and resignation are manifested in an escape mechanism which ultimately led him to ‘” escape’” from the requirements of the society.”

5. Rebellion: The individual rejects the cultural goals and means. He then works to replace them. Writing on Rebellion, Merton highlights, “This adaptation leads men outside the environment to envisage and seek to bring into being new, that is to say, a greatly modified social structure. It presupposes alienation from reigning goals and standards.”

Merton’s analysis led him to conclude that the lower class commits more crimes. He based this conclusion by looking at crime statistics by class. Deviance or crime occurred because people in the lower strata could not achieve economic success via legitimate goals. To achieve their goals, people turned to illegitimate means. Merton provides the readers with an example of American culture. He points out, “…Contemporary American culture continues to be characterized by a heavy emphasis on wealth as a basic symbol of success, without a corresponding emphasis upon the legitimate avenues to march toward this goal.” In essence, the cultural value of success in American culture is placed so much on wealth that people are willing to achieve wealth through any means necessary.

Pakistan’s Political and Economic Turmoil
Given Merton’s sociological perspective on social structures and why anomie occurs, his sociological framework could be used to analyze Pakistan’s political and economic turmoil that seems to have no end. Since Merton proposed that culture and social structure are two core elements of a society, people develop their values, beliefs, goals, and identities in relation to culture, which is formed as a response to the institutionalized norms. The institutionalized norms provide a legitimate means for the public to achieve their objectives. If people can achieve their goals legitimately, people can achieve satisfaction in all strata of society. In Pakistan, the root causes of political and economic issues are various; however, the major issue in Pakistan remains that Pakistanis lack cultural objectives that can give the natives across the land a set of goals and the legitimate means to pursue those goals, which the people of Pakistan can pursue in unity.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 5, 2023 at 4:48pm

Bilal I Gilani
Who wants to partner with whom

Gallup International survey in 64 countries on who wants to partner with whom

•Among different religious groups, US is ahead of China in preference for economic partnership. However, the gap is narrowest among Muslim respondents.


Bilal I Gilani
A representative sample of men and women in Pakistan was asked the following question: “Which of the following would you prefer your country to partner with economically – ” 56% responded China, 13% preferred US, 8% said Russia while another 8% said Others

Gallup International


Bilal I Gilani
•Interesting to note that just like economic preference, low-income economies prefer China for security partnership.

Gallup International survey in 64 countries on who wants to partner with whom


Bilal I Gilani
Pakistan tops the world in terms of wanting to have security partnership with China

Gallup International survey in 64 countries on who wants to partner with whom


Bilal I Gilani
Out of the 64 countries that were surveyed, South Korea tops security preference for US, Pakistan tops preference for China, while Serbia tops the preference for Russia and EU for security partnership

Gallup International survey in 64 countries on who wants to partner with whom


Bilal I Gilani
•Popularity of economic partnership with China was found to be highest in Sub Saharan Africa followed by MENA region. The least support was found in EU (lower than even US)

Gallup International survey in 64 countries on who wants to partner with whom


Bilal I Gilani
•Younger populations are more amiable towards China when it comes to striking Economic partnership. 23% of respondents under the age of 34 preferred China. Only 11 % in 55+ age bracket across the globe.


Bilal I Gilani
Pakistan, UAE and Nigeria are at the bottom for economic partnership with EU.

Gallup International survey in 64 countries on who wants economic partnership with whom


Bilal I Gilani
Yemen, Pakistan and Russia top in willingness to pursue economic partnership with China.

Gallup international survey on who wants to partner with whom in the global rivals US , China , Russia

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 7, 2023 at 5:36pm

Pakistan’s Dystopian Warning to the World

Pakistan has touted itself as one of the world’s cradles of civilization, flourishing for thousands of years along ancient trade routes passing through the fertile Indus Valley.

Now it presents a dystopian vision of the future, bankrupt, unstable and threatened by climate catastrophe. Its fate offers a warning to other heavily indebted nations on the precipice, from Sri Lanka to Zambia.

Pakistan is due to hold elections no later than October, and political jostling is narrowing the nuclear-armed nation’s options.

Opposition leader Imran Khan, who was ousted from the premiership last year, is in a bitter standoff with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif over control of the country of 230 million. He’s held mass rallies in recent months to pressure the government into an early vote, while the authorities have filed numerous cases against him and issued a warrant for his arrest.

As Islamabad fiddles, the country is burning up its foreign reserves, and investors see a growing risk of default. The government is living hand to mouth, reliant on outside loans from China while negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for the remaining funds in a $6.5 billion bailout — its 13th since the late 1980s.

Pakistan already got a taste of economic disaster last year when deadly floods displaced millions. Such calamities are unlikely to be a one-off, with climate scientists forecasting massive increases in river flows as a result of melting Himalayan glaciers, inundating farmland and obliterating infrastructure — interspersed with drought.

Pakistan could hardly have a more strategic location, lodged between Iran and India and with China and Afghanistan to the north. That, plus its sheer size as the world’s fifth-most populous nation, make it too big to be allowed to fail.

The question is who, both in and outside the country, is going to come to its rescue.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 8, 2023 at 6:55pm

Key Reflections: Bruce Reidel interviewed by Sajjan Gohel

* The Taliban victory in Afghanistan has given an enormous boost to the morale of terrorists throughout the region.

* The role of ISKP in Afghanistan is very murky as it is not a monolithic organisation and has ties to Taliban factions. These include the Haqqani Network who also have a long association with al-Qaeda.

* The Pakistani military’s strategic support for the Taliban in Afghanistan strengthens the forces of terrorism that threaten the very nature of the Pakistani state.

* Iran has aspirations to be the dominant player in both the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

* Backed by Iran, the Houthis in Yemen are a very well organised, disciplined organisation and have advanced their strategic interests in Yemen against Saudi Arabia.

* The combination of location, leadership, and success in counter-terrorism has made Jordan a key and stable ally against al-Qaeda and ISIS.


SG – Dr. Sajjan Gohel

BR – Bruce Riedel

SG: So that’s just another additional challenge that we’re going to have to face on top of everything else that is occurring. You have mentioned several times in our discussions about Pakistan. So, let’s look at that a little further in depth. What can we say about the role of Pakistan in the region? Are they still potentially going to be an ally in name, but will question marks still remain about their role? The fact that President Biden has still not spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan as yet—does that matter? The fact that it seems Pakistan’s military worked with the Taliban to enable their takeover of Afghanistan in 2021—what can we say about the role of Pakistan and where that’s heading in 2022?

BR: I think the single issue that worries me the most in the current global environment is whether or not the Pakistani army, particularly the officer corps, and particularly those officers associated with the intelligence department, ISI, come away from Afghanistan with a sense of victory in jubilation. After all, a very convincing case can be made that the Pakistani army has now defeated two superpowers in the course of the last several decades—first the Soviets, and now the Americans. Will that sense of enthusiasm that they’ve done it again—will they now start turning their attention to enemy number one, which is India. And will they look to increase tensions in Kashmir and elsewhere to try to put pressure on the Indians to compel the withdrawal of Indian forces from the Kashmir Valley. It’s too soon to say whether that’s going to be the case, but I’m very concerned about that.

In that environment, is Imran Khan going to be a hedge, is he going to be a constraint on them? Imran Khan is all over the map on these issues in the course of his career, but most recently, since he became prime minister, he’s been very closely associated with the Pakistani army. That’s not a reason for ignoring him. If we can talk to Vladimir Putin, we can certainly talk to Imran Khan. That doesn’t mean we’re going to agree. There are going to be many things we disagree on. But it’s very, very important to engage the Pakistanis on these issues. Pakistan is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population. It has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. It is China’s number one ally. This is a very, very important country in its own right. Leave aside Afghanistan. Pakistan should be considered one of the most important countries in the world for the United States to engage with. Iran, in many ways, is a Pakistan wanna-be—it doesn’t have nuclear weapons yet, it doesn’t have delivery systems, it doesn’t have a working military-to-military relationship with China. This is a country that we need to pay much more attention to, and that starts with a phone call from the president to Imran Khan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 8, 2023 at 8:48pm

The Biden administration’s two-track Pakistan policy misses the mark
Madiha Afzal Thursday, March 2, 2023

As I have long argued, Pakistan, the fifth-largest country in the world and a nuclear-armed nation, ought to be seen by the United States on its own terms and not through the prism of its neighbors. A cold shoulder risks pushing Pakistan further toward China — which is neither an inevitable nor desirable outcome for the United States. What’s more, Pakistan’s multiple crises — political instability, economic malaise, and rising insecurity — warrant greater American engagement, not less, and certainly more than the current administration’s policy of fractured engagement from the United States.


he U.S.-Pakistan relationship has weathered several bumps in the road over the past two years, including, most prominently, the fallout from the Afghanistan withdrawal and the Taliban takeover. The Biden administration has now settled on a bureaucratic division of labor in its policy toward Pakistan: a lack of engagement from the White House; robust, well-defined engagement from the State Department; and a continuation of long-standing military and defense ties. The new equilibrium is different from the past: President Joe Biden is the only U.S. president in recent memory not to have engaged with a Pakistani prime minister (neither Imran Khan nor his successor, Shehbaz Sharif). The bilateral relationship is also notably no longer centered solely around America’s interests in Afghanistan, as it was prior to August 2021: there is an effort by both sides to broaden its base.

Unfortunately, the overall relationship is weak at best. Here are the factors that have shaped the relationship over the last two years:

At the beginning of the Biden administration, Pakistan recognized the need to redefine the bilateral relationship, until then focused on Afghanistan, as the U.S. withdrawal from that country drew close. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government pitched the need for a comprehensive relationship with the United States, one based on “geo-economics” — Pakistan’s catch-all for trade, investment, and connectivity — as opposed to a relationship focused on security concerns. The Biden administration wasn’t responsive, and the relationship got off to a cold start. At the time, the United States was focused on Afghanistan and the need for Pakistan to exercise pressure on the Taliban to push it toward an intra-Afghan peace. Then, as the Taliban undertook a systematic military takeover of Afghanistan while the United States withdrew, the relationship cooled further. In the months afterward, although Pakistan helped in evacuations from Kabul and in taking in Afghan refugees, the ignominy of the withdrawal — that the war ended with a clear Taliban victory and in view of Pakistan’s close relationship with the Taliban — pushed relations to a relative low point.


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