As Washington’s focus switches from war on terror to its rivalry with China, Pakistan finds it has lost priority billing in US foreign policy
With Islamabad clashing with India over Kashmir, and taking billions of dollars of investment from Beijing, it may decide its future lies with China
A month after Joe Biden assumed the US presidency, Pakistan is increasingly concerned that the direction of its future relationship with the United States could be determined by Washington’s competition with China and the role that neighbouring nemesis India might play in it.
Since assuming power on January 20, Biden’s administration has placed great emphasis on strengthening the role of the Quadrilateral Alliance comprising the US and its key allies in the Indo-Pacific geopolitical theatre: Japan, Australia and India.
Building a “stronger regional architecture” under the umbrella of the Quad to counter China’s expanding role in the Indo-Pacific has figured prominently in US government readouts about recent conversations between the US secretaries of state and defence and their Indian counterparts, as well as for Biden’s video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 8.
As China’s close ally and India’s historical enemy, “Islamabad will want to avoid getting in the crosshairs of US-China competition”, said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistan ambassador to the US, United Nations and Britain. “And while it seeks an improved relationship with the US, it is obvious to Islamabad that Pakistan’s strategic future lies with China.”