Canberra [Australia], July 13 (ANI): Pakistan's foreign policy link> is in disarray as no country has come to offer it extraordinary support amid rising inflation and a balance-of-payments crisis. Arif Rafiq link>, president of Vizier Consulting, LLC, a political risk advisory company focused on the Middle East and South Asia, writing in Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said that Pakistan's relationship with long-time partner China is also facing a stress test. When former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan link>'s government fell in a vote of no-confidence in April, his detractors in the power elite claimed that the change of government would lead to improved ties with the world and an easing of the country's economic crisis. Khan, they said, had ruined Pakistan's relations with the West with steps like an ill-timed visit to Russia that coincided with the invasion of Ukraine. They also alleged that his government had harmed ties with long-time ally China, including by levelling accusations of corruption in projects that were part of the Belt and Road Initiative-linked China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, reported ASPI. But the foreign policy reset pursued by the new coalition government and the Pakistan Army, which had backed Khan until relations soured late last year, has yielded few tangible dividends.
In late April, a terrorist attack took the lives of Chinese nationals in the port city of Karachi. Beijing lost confidence in Islamabad's ability to secure Chinese nationals and has since requested permission to deploy Chinese private security contractors to Pakistan, reported ASPI. Meanwhile, Pakistani commentators tied to the ruling coalition have fostered the impression that concessions to the United States could be exchanged for economic relief measures. But Pakistan's attempted rebalancing to the West has done little in this regard. The International Monetary Fund continues to drive a hard bargain, insisting that Islamabad raise electricity and fuel prices, ramp up tax collection and make sizeable budget cuts. There is simply little appetite among Pakistan's bilateral and multilateral partners to continue to subsidise the Pakistani elite's reckless macroeconomic policies. In fact, Pakistan's economic distress and its grey-listing by the Financial Action Task Force have proved the efficacy of economic competence, reported ASPI. Moreover, America's deference to India reflects its perceptions of New Delhi's importance in its efforts to counter Beijing in the Asia-Pacific region link>. This imposes a ceiling on cooperation with Islamabad, limiting it to the non-strategic domain. Also, anti-US sentiment is rife in Pakistan, and it may be a factor in Pakistani electoral politics. Most Pakistanis, according to a survey by Gallup Pakistan, are now 'angry' about the removal of Khan as prime minister, and close to a majority believe his claims that his downfall was due to an American 'regime change' campaign, reported ASPI. (ANI)