The Relevance of Pakistan in the Changing Power Dynamics in Asia

There is no denying the fact that change is the only constant thing in this ever changing world.  The changing global trends, challenging governance and the changing nature of power are likely to raise tensions across all regions and types of governments.  Since these conditions are nigh they will contribute in increasing the threat of terrorism leaving the international order in a critical situation.  Tensions are heightening both within states and between states. Within states tension is witnessed as citizens are concerned what to expect from their governments. Likewise, the increasing tension between the states is intensifying the risk of interstate conflicts.  Regional rivalries are now bitter than before in case of Islamabad, New Delhi, Riyadh and Tehran.  A hobbled Europe and the undecided role of the U.S have not only created new space for Russian and China but could potentially strengthen regional and non-state aggressors.  Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Tehran and Beijing has accentuated the question regarding Pakistan’s role in the changing power dynamics in Asia.  The United States is no longer granting states any exemptions from US sanctions on Iranian oil imports.  Iran has replied defiantly threatening to close the state of Hormuz which is a strategically important choke point if it is prevented from using it to sell its oil. In the view of some analysts the oil crack down could not only result in a showdown between Iran and Washington but could impel US trade talks with China. So far Iran and Islamabad had been experiencing rather strained relations however on the contrary India had been contributing in ending Iran’s isolation by buying its oil.  Imran Khan’s visit to Tehran has been viewed by some observers as the beginning of a new power dynamic in the region.  Both the states have now pledged to fight armed groups along their border together. However, prior to PM’s visit to Tehran Iran has been accused of supporting terrorist camps including the Baloch separatists in its territory by Pakistan’s foreign office. Nevertheless, PM Imran Khan has attracted much criticism back home for admitting that terrorism in Iran had its roots in Pakistan.  Considering Imran Khan’s statement analysts contend that the Iranian President could have admitted the reality of terrorist organization operating in Iran to destabilize Pakistan’s security.  However, there is no denying the fact that Iran is certainly changing its point of view regarding Pakistan in light of Trump’s decision to economically strangle Iran.  Therefore, some international observers believe that now Iran is offering both sticks and carrots to Pakistan.  Tehran has offered to supply Pakistan with natural gas and more electricity and engage in bilateral trade. Moreover, there are plans of building a railroad connecting Tehran, Islamabad and Istanbul. However, Iranian idea of linking Gawadar port with Chabhar has attracted criticism in Pakistan as it could indirectly support India in her pursuit of becoming a regional stake holder.  Since both Islamabad and Tehran have pledged not to let others interfere in their brotherly relations. Therefore, some analysts believe that now Islamabad and Tehran will not allow New Delhi and Riyadh to interfere in their brotherly relations making the two old neighbors new friends.  Considering Riyadh and Washington’s bitter rivalry with Tehran some analysts believe that Islamabad should remain neutral. However, others believe that Pakistan should prefer the Iranian camp over the Saudi- American alliance. Since Pakistan is already in the US- Saudi camp owing to IMF therefore PM Khan’s visit to Tehran could be substantial in satisfying the FAFT regarding terrorism.  One view suggests that United States desire of involving Tehran in the Taliban peace talks could be the real purpose of Imran Khan’s visit to an economically sanctioned Iran.  However, most international observers contend that the US wants the Taliban to strike the final deal which could materialize the exit of the US forces from Afghanistan.  Considering the fact that Narendra Modi can be re-elected making situation worse Pakistan therefore needs internal stability and national consensus.  One popular view suggests that negotiations with Taliban will eventually fail since the Taliban are not willing to compromise therefore the US might not get an honorable exit.  It is feared once the US leaves Afghanistan It will certainly fasten all the blame on Pakistan.  There is a probability that Pakistan will be dragged in the bitter rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran by the US to please the Saudi’s.  Since Pakistan is financially depended on US and Saudi financial institutions therefore Pakistan could be easily pressurized through the IMF.  The exit of the US troops from Afghanistan could result in a strengthened US- India alliance against Pakistan and China. Pakistan certainly has a pivotal role in Asia owing to its geo strategic position therefore it has to take prudent decisions in order to safe guard its national interests. The intensified regional rivalries, the possible exit of US troops and the economic rivalry between the US and China are factors indicating the changing power dynamics in Asia.  Some international observers believe that one day Pakistan will either have to choose the U.S camp or the Chinese Camp. Likewise, it will also have to choose between Saudi Arabia and Iran as international politics is a tricky business.  Since global politics is all about safeguarding one’s interests therefore whether Pakistan should takes sides or remains neutral in regional and economic    rivalries is a tricky question.

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