Pakistan’s lawmakers ousted former prime minister Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote, ending his four-year leadership after internal inflation eroded his support and he clashed with the powerful military of the country. Khan’s loss came after a fallout with Pakistan’s army over a range of issues, including interference in military promotions, his rocky relationship with the US, and poor management of the economy. At the same time, the opposition leader, Shehbaz Sharif, will almost certainly become the new prime minister, and is likely to immediately rebalance Pakistan’s foreign policy further towards the West. The key priority for the new administration will be maintaining its balance of power with India, through hedging via the US and China.
India and Pakistan have had a longstanding territorial conflict. This dispute has existed in the Kashmir region since 1947 when the two became independent, and escalated into three wars between them. India has officially stated Kashmir is an integral part of India after the Kashmir unrest between two states in 2010. Otherwise, Pakistan maintains that the final status of disputed territory in Kashmir must be determined by the people of Kashmir. The historic path plus Pakistan’s improved relations with China have frozen the relationship between the two countries in the past few years. Now that the new prime minister has taken power, India is paying attention to Pakistan’s development.
The other powerful country in South Asia, China, of course also cares about Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the primary project in the One Belt One Road initiative, which can be seen as a measure of China’s success. Similarly, Pakistan wants to improve their infrastructure and economic situation through the project. While the former administration was close to China, the new government seeks to fix ties with the US and Europe. This behavior may impact the future of the project, and make those projects which have not started become uncertain and cast a cloud on their relations.
The top two export destinations of Pakistan in 2021 were the United States and China, respectively, with the US receiving twice as much as China. The US is the biggest contributor of foreign direct investment for Pakistan as well, but their relations have deteriorated in recent years because of Pakistan hiding terrorists in their country and becoming closer to China. Now the new government wants to fix their ties, which means the US can extend its influence not only from India, but also Pakistan in South Asia, to counter China’s revisionist behavior.
In conclusion, based on complicated relations between the US, India and China in South Asia, Pakistan plays a primary role in this battleground. The new government’s behavior can affect geopolitics, which makes such stakeholders pay close attention on it.
Written by: Eddie C.
Edited by: Ari B