Major Foreign Policy Challenges for Pakistan’s New Government – Geopolitics TOU

Major Foreign Policy Challenges for Pakistan’s New Government – Geopolitics


Major Foreign Policy Challenges for Pakistan’s New Government – Geopolitics

like thisIan Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, who was sworn in as Pakistan’s Prime Minister on April 11, 2022, has clearly cut short his work to address the country’s economic challenges as well as improve Pakistan’s relations with the US and the European Union – as shown in the recent slide below. . In one meeting a week April 14, 2022 Along with senior officials, Sharif asked his team to devise a strategy to get the country’s economy back on track, with a special focus on controlling inflation. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Pakistan’s economy is expected to grow. 4% in 2022 (Compared to 5.6% last year), while the World Bank has forecast a slightly higher growth rate (4.3%) For the year 2022. The main priorities for Sharif are to keep inflation in check and prevent further deterioration of the debt situation. Rising oil prices as a result of the Russia-Ukraine crisis have been a major blow to the country’s economy (petrol products accounted for 20% of the country’s total import bill in 2020-2021). Last month, days before the dismissal of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government (PTI) global rating agency, Moody’s estimated that Pakistan’s current account deficit would be $ 12 billion for the period from July 2021 to February 2022, compared to બ 1 billion. For the same period in the previous year.

Rating agency too Said: “We now expect the deficit to grow by 5-6% of GDP in FY2022 (end of June 2022) compared to our previous forecast of 4%. This further expansion will put further pressure on Pakistan’s foreign reserves, which fell to $ 14.9 billion by February 2022 from $ 18.9 billion in July 2021, enough to cover just two months of imports, according to IMF data. “

Both the US and the EU were unhappy with former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s stance on the Ukraine issue (Khan arrived in Russia a day before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine). Khan, who lost the no-confidence motion on April 10, 2022, blamed the U.S. along with opposition parties for plotting his downfall. Khan pointed to it List Sent by the US in which it was said that US-Pakistan relations would deteriorate if he continued as PM of Pakistan. Both the opposition and the military were upset by Khan’s criticism of the West. In his address, on April 2, 2022 Islamabad Security DialoguePakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa said that Pakistan has shared “long and excellent relations” with the US and Islamabad wants to maintain a balanced foreign policy.

If anyone goes to Shahbaz Sharif’s address after becoming PM, it is clear that he is likely to prioritize relations with China and Saudi Arabia. China has in the past praised Shahbaz Sharif for his efficiency and delivery on key infrastructure projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), even coining the terms ‘Punjab Speed’ and ‘Shahbaz Speed’. A report in Global Times Relations with Pakistan will improve only under the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). PML-N The government in Pakistan draws attention to Shahbaz Sharif’s commitment to further the CPEC. While much has been said about Imran Khan’s anti-Western stance, it is worth noting that Beijing was not particularly pleased with the pace of CPEC projects during the PTI government. In August 2021, Lieutenant General (Retd.) Asim Salim Bajwa With CPEC was replaced as Authority Chief Khalid Mansoor Who was appointed as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CPEC matters.

Sharif is also likely to focus on strengthening ties with Pakistan’s traditional ally Saudi Arabia. The Sharif family has close ties to Saudi Arabia Royal family (Saudi played a key role in ensuring a safe passage for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after he was ousted during a coup. October 1999). When Saudi Arabia provided assistance to Pakistan in 2018 to ease pressure on its foreign exchange reserves, relations soured after Pakistan expressed frustration with the Saudi-led Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for not taking a strong stance against India’s announcement. To remove Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2021, Saudi Arabia re-lent 3 Billion to Pakistan.

Relations with the US and the EU are important from an economic point of view. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review of the situation in Pakistan is scheduled for June, 2022. And both the US and the EU play a crucial role. The EU is an important destination for Pakistan’s exports in particular Wear and textiles. The US is also an important destination for Pakistan’s exports. General Bajwa mentioned this issue during his speech in Islamabad Security Dialogue Saying That America ‘is Pakistan’s largest export market. Pakistan’s talks with the IMF are also likely to resume. The two sides signed an agreement to that effect 6 billion loan Over a period of 39 months under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Sharif, known as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and has limited political capital, who is to run a separate coalition, is unlikely to take any major steps to normalize relations with India. In his first speech since being elected PM, Shahbaz Sharif also mentioned this, expressing his commitment to improving relations with India. Kashmir issue As an obstacle in terms of normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi congratulated Sharif Modi Tweet Sharif mentioned the need for a ‘terror free zone’, to which Sharif responded Outstanding issues It needs to be addressed between the two countries, including Kashmir.

As the Chief Minister of Punjab (2008-2013 and 2013-2018), Sharif spoke of bringing stronger and stronger trade ties between India and Pakistan in particular and between the two countries of Punjab in particular through the Wagah-Attari land route. Looking at some of the developments that have taken place in the last few months; Reopening of Kartarpur Corridor After more than a year and a half and other steps were taken to fill Religious tourism And with the conciliatory statements of the Pakistan Army, trade is likely to resume. Pakistan’s first National Security Policy Released in January 2022, it also focused on improving relations with India, including the economic sector.

Imran Khan also allowed the import of sugar and cotton 2021But at the last minute, the decision was reversed. Business lobbies in Pakistan as well as India (especially Punjab) are betting on resumption of trade as Pakistan imports. Essentials Such as sugar and wheat from other countries at very high rates.

In an interview with a senior Indian journalist Karan ThaparSenior PML-N leader Mushahid Hussain Syed said that while Pakistan could not put aside the Kashmir issue, there was room for progress between the two countries on 3C – commerce, cricket and culture.

Shahbaz Sharif’s foreign policy is likely to be driven by Pakistan’s economic interests and relations with Beijing and Riyadh will be given top priority. With the West, Sharif needs to consider Pakistan’s economic interests while not giving the impression that he is cauting the US. In the context of India-Pakistan relations, people-to-people contacts may expand and trade may resume, but in reality no major initiatives / measures are likely to be taken in view of Sharif’s local priorities and obstacles.

[Photo: Shehbaz Sharif,  via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

New Delhi based policy analyst affiliated with OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India. The India-Pakistan-China triangle is one of their areas of interest.

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