Pakistan does not want another problem to choose China and US: Khar

Web DeskJune 22, 20235166 min
Pakistan does not want another problem to choose China and US: Khar

WASHINGTON: Pakistan already has enough issues and does not need a new Cold War between China and the United States, according to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar.

Ms Khar told the Washington-based news source Politico this week that Islamabad had no desire to take sides in the burgeoning global rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

The interview was conducted before US President Joe Biden referred to China’s President Xi Jinping as a dictator during a political event in California on Tuesday. Beijing responded quickly and angrily, saying the remarks “seriously contradict basic facts, seriously violate diplomatic etiquette, and seriously infringe on China’s political dignity.”

Political observers in Washington warn that Mr. Biden’s words, and Beijing’s reaction to them, will make it more difficult for nations like Pakistan to maintain relations with both China and the US.

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Political observers in Washington warn that Mr. Biden’s words, and Beijing’s reaction to them, will make it more difficult for nations like Pakistan to maintain relations with both China and the US.

Minister says splitting of world into two blocs ‘threatening’ for Islamabad

Politico, in its story on Ms Khar’s interview, also emphasised the difficulties that countries like Pakistan confront in keeping good relations with both Beijing and Washington.

“As a nuclear-armed heavyweight with a population of 250 million people, Pakistan is one of the most closely watched front-line states in the contest for strategic influence in Asia,” the newspaper said.

“While Pakistan’s old Cold War ally Washington is increasingly focusing on cooperation with Islamabad’s arch-foe India, China has swooped in to extend its clout in Pakistan, particularly through massive infrastructure projects.”

Ms Khar, however, insisted that an all-out rupture between the US and China would present Pakistan with an unpalatably binary strategic choice. “We are highly threatened by this notion of splitting the world into two blocs. We are very concerned about this decoupling … anything that splits the world further,” she said.

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“We have a history of being in a close, collaborative mode with the US. We have no intention of leaving that. Pakistan also has the reality of being in a close, collaborative mode with China, and until China suddenly came to everyone’s threat perception, that was always the case.”

According to Politico, Ms Khar made headlines in April when a leaked note appeared in The Wall Street Journal, in which she was quoted as warning that Pakistan’s urge to protect its connection with the US would jeopardise the country’s “real strategic” partnership with China.

She declined to comment on the leak, but in her interview in Brussels, she took a more bullish stance on American power, saying the US was overly fearful and defensive about losing its global leadership, which she argued remained vital in areas such as healthcare, technology, trade, and combating climate change.

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