Balancing Act

Pakistan has often found itself navigating through the shifting dy­namics of international relations, particularly in its relationship with the United States. While the US has been urging Pakistan to reconsider its construction of the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, Pakistan has made it clear that it will stay committed to its regional alliances.

Despite the initial tit-for-tat exchanges earlier this year, Pakistan and Iran seem to have pivoted towards greater cooperation, as ev­idenced by the meeting between our Minister of Industry and the Iranian Ambassador on bilateral partnerships for the future. Hope­fully, our forthcoming MoU with Iran will only further strengthen our neighborly ties with Iran.

Parallel to this, Pakistan’s recent overtures in Saudi Arabia are an important balancing act in managing these regional connections. Saudi Arabia’s alignment with the US, particularly in its opposition to Iran, has made it quite difficult for us to juggle our relationship with the two nations in the past. Pakistan’s historical ties with SA have, however, often necessitated our dependence on them, and we cannot let our ties with Iran get in the way of this. The fact that Pak­istan has engaged with both nations in some form or another with­in the span of a weekend underscores the kind of approach that we need to navigate these waters ahead.

Economic developments are also reflecting the importance of this regional dependence as well. While Pakistan’s trade with the US has declined, our surge in trade with China has reached an all-time high. Our exports to China are a massive part of our goal to reach the 3 billion dollar mark by the end of the fiscal year, so we cannot let our regional alliances be superseded in any way by Western influences, a trend being seen in other parts of the world as well.

At this critical juncture, Pakistan’s regional partners are linchpins for its economic stability and progress. Despite global influences, this is a positive and pragmatic approach we are taking to our foreign pol­icy. Previously Iran was all ignored by the government and it is good to see the new government showing a level of initiative to improve rela­tions with Iran – they are our most readily available business partner. However complicated the Saudis make this connection for us, we have to navigate and mediate rather than choose sides moving forward.

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