Is Pakistan Making a Mistake Choosing China Over The US?

Pakistan’s recent decision to decline an invitation to attend the second virtual Democracy Summit co-hosted by the United States and more than 120 countries have raised questions about the country’s foreign policy priorities. While Pakistan has cited its preference for one-on-one dialogue with the US and other nations that participated in the summit, the move is seen by many as a clear indication of Pakistan’s growing alignment with China. Whether this is a wise move for Pakistan in the long run.

The US-China Rivalry and Pakistan’s Position

Pakistan’s decision to decline the invitation to the US Democracy Summit stemmed partly from the US move to include Taiwan in the meeting while keeping China out. This move did not sit well with China, which views Taiwan as a part of its territory. Pakistan, like China, upholds the one-China policy and does not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. This has put Pakistan in a delicate position as it seeks to balance its relations with the US and China amid their growing rivalry.

Pakistan’s Alignment with China

Pakistan’s growing alignment with China is evident in its recent actions. At the democracy forum in Beijing, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Defence, praised China’s “democratic” system for reducing poverty and criticized the “so-called” US Democracy Summit for weaponizing democracy and human rights. Meanwhile, former National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf called for the US and China to collaborate on addressing global challenges like climate change and debt distress without engaging in power politics. Given Pakistan’s significant debt to China, this message made sense.

Pakistan’s Missed Opportunity

Despite its growing alignment with China, Pakistan may have missed an opportunity to present its perspective on the global stage by declining to attend the US Democracy Summit. Pakistan could have taken a more constructive approach by presenting its perspective and proposing ways to facilitate democratic debates and improve global approaches on issues that matter to it. Moreover, Islamabad must register concerns at both powers’ forums, urging them to cooperate on debt restructuring for countries facing debt distress and financing climate-adaptive infrastructure in countries like Pakistan.

Implications for Pakistan

Pakistan’s decision to decline the invitation to the US Democracy Summit raises questions about its foreign policy priorities and growing alignment with China. While Pakistan has cited its preference for one-on-one dialogue with the US and other nations, this move may ultimately limit its ability to present its perspective on the global stage. Pakistan must strike a delicate balance between its relations with the US and China while also presenting itself as an independent actor that can speak for itself without being subservient to any power center. The implications for Pakistan are significant, as its decisions in this regard will shape its foreign policy trajectory in the years to come.

Pakistan’s decision to choose China over the US puts the country in a precarious situation. While the country may benefit from China’s economic aid and support, it risks alienating itself from the democratic world and limiting its opportunities for international cooperation. Pakistan could have utilized the platforms of both major powers to present its independent perspective and advocate for its interests. It remains to be seen how this decision will impact Pakistan’s relations with the US and other democratic nations.

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