From Geostrategic to Geo-economics By Nawazish Ali

The question of whether Pakistan can shift from a geo-strategic to a geo-economics priority is complex. While geostrategic considerations have traditionally been a significant factor in Pakistan’s foreign policy, there is growing recognition of the importance of geo-economics in today’s globalized world. Shifting towards a geo-economics priority would require a significant shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy and strategic priorities, as well as a greater focus on economic diplomacy and cooperation. Understanding the difference between geostrategic and geo-economics is crucial for Pakistan to effectively navigate the complex geopolitical landscape of the 21st century.

Pakistan’s strategic goals have been deeply influenced by its traditional rivalry with India and its desire to exert political influence in Afghanistan. In Kashmir, Pakistan seeks a favourable resolution to the long-standing conflict with India. Pakistan desires a friendly and stable regime in Afghanistan that should prevent the resurgence of terrorist factions such as TTP, which could cause unrest along its Western borders. These political objectives necessitated investing heavily in acquiring and maintaining the requisite military capability for stability and peace within the region. This focus on military spending since its inception, and subsequently fighting proxy wars in Afghanistan, forced Pakistan for altering its strategic priorities from geo-economics to geostrategic. However, Pakistan alone cannot be blamed for it.

India asserts that the region of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of its territory, and Pakistan contests it as a “jugular vein”. The military capabilities of both nations have gradually increased manifold, making the situation more complex. India blames Pakistan for supporting Kashmiri freedom fighters, while Pakistan accuses India of sponsoring ‘state terrorism’ in Kashmir and supporting separatist movements in Baluchistan. Pakistan has been involved in two major conflicts along its Western borders for the past 50 years: the Afghan War and the Global War on Terror. These wars have had a significant impact on the country’s psychological, social, and communal makeup, leading to the spread of religious fanaticism, the erosion of moral values, widespread financial corruption, and diplomatic isolation.

Pakistan’s strategic goals have been deeply influenced by its traditional rivalry with India and its desire to exert political influence in Afghanistan.

The interactions between the United States, China, India, Pakistan, and Russia have been a mix of cooperation and competition, which has played a crucial role in shaping the regional dynamics in Asia. The relationship between the United States and China has always been contentious, with the United States being cautious of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In response, the United States has supported countries like India and Afghanistan to counter China’s influence. The United States and India have a strong relationship based on shared interests in democracy, economic growth, and security. However, the relationship between China, Pakistan, and Russia is complex, with a web of shared interests and divergent priorities. While China and Russia share a common authoritarian system of governance, they differ in their priorities regarding regional stability and economic development.

There are several countries involved in Afghanistan with conflicting political objectives. Each country has its own goals and interests, which pose a significant threat to Pakistan’s security on its western borders. India has invested in various developmental projects in Afghanistan, while Iran has used its strategic location to build an alternate land route to Central Asia. Pakistan has provided shelter, resources, and training to the Afghans in the hope of developing a friendly regime in Afghanistan. However, the difficult environment in Afghanistan has led to the growth of extremism and terrorism within Pakistan. Pakistan has been losing its ambition in Afghanistan, while China’s rise as a global superpower has made Pakistan a hub for trade and investment.

Pakistan has been struggling with an economic crisis for several years now. The country heavily relies on imports, leading to a chronic current account deficit. The Pakistani rupee has continuously depreciated, resulting in significant inflation. The unemployment rate has also increased, causing severe social and societal implications. The government has taken measures to address the crisis, including seeking financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the IMF has imposed conditions for the assistance, such as reducing public expenditure and increasing tax revenues. Unfortunately, these measures have proven to be double-edged, leading to further impoverishment of the masses and failing to address the root causes of the financial failure itself.

Pakistan’s evolution from a geostrategic to a geo-economic one will open up new opportunities. It has to be gradual. The country’s strategic location, natural resources, and young and dynamic human-resource will emerge as key drivers in this transition. This shift will not only help Pakistan to mitigate its security concerns but will also foster a more prosperous and stable future for the country. Going forward, Pakistan needs to build on these positive trends by eliminating financial corruption, promoting transparency, and continuing to foster economic collaboration with its neighbours. It is time to strive for better strategic stability in the region.



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