Caught between the United States and China: Critical Junctures in Pakistan’s Foreign Policy

Boni, Filippo (2021). Caught between the United States and China: Critical Junctures in Pakistan’s Foreign Policy. In: Pande, Aparna ed. Routledge Handbook on South Asian Foreign Policy. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 311–323.

URL: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.432...

Abstract

Pakistan's foreign policy has been profoundly influenced by the conditions that the country was facing at its birth, with irredentist claims from Afghanistan, a disputed territory with India, weak political institutions, and the lack of strong political leaders. Against such backdrop, Pakistan's response to these challenges has been to look for an external balancer to India's economic and military superiority, a role that was played by the U.S. and China throughout the country's history. While the U.S. has zoomed in and out of the region, China has represented Pakistan's first port of call when relations with the U.S. deteriorated, and at times when Washington was not directly involved in the region. In recognising such a historical trajectory, this chapter argues that since 2011, Pakistan's foreign policy has taken a decisive turn towards China, in a shift that is qualitatively different from the previous ones.

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