Silent Diplomacy: Decoding the US Approach to Pakistan

With the recent advancements and shifts in global diplomacy between the world’s two largest democracies, India and the United States, Pakistan, India’s neighbouring military powerhouse is certainly a cause for concern.  As Pakistan summons US embassy’s deputy mission chief there is no doubt as to the feeling of isolationism the Islamic nation is facing.  

There is certainly evidence that Democratic Party leader Joe Biden and his government have been observing strained relations and ineffective track two diplomacy with a shaky Pakistan, which is currently experiencing a shortage of funds and a destabilising economy, similar to its neighbour Sri Lanka almost 2,800 miles to the south.   

However, this raises a much larger question of what the US’s future prospects with Pakistan are and how it will manage to keep the country in check in light of recent developments with India at the White House.  

STRAINED US-PAKISTAN RELATIONS

Since their withdrawal from Afghanistan in May 2021, the United States, keeping its own national interests in mind, has shown a largely indifferent attitude towards Pakistan, with Biden’s administration not even making a single phone call to any Pakistani Minister in the past two years, demonstrating that for the time being, Pakistan’s deteriorating economy and domestic issues diminish its appeal as a U.S. partner and a suitable ally.   

While the blame -game and search for a plausible scapegoat still persists in Pakistan, over the good deal of Internal Security and Economic Problems that the country faces many analysts and Think tank members largely inculpate Imran Khan, the 22nd prime minister and the founder of Tehreek-e-Insaf, over the constrained relations between Us and Pakistan. Khan was removed from power in April after losing a vote of no confidence in his leadership, which he claimed was part of a US-led plot to remove him from office due to his independent foreign policy decisions regarding Russia, China, and Afghanistan and the whole cypher leak controversy which ruled Pakistani politics for a significant amount of time last year.  

BILATERAL TRADE  

Pakistan has experienced a substantial increase in US imports and direct investment in the past couple of years. However, the lack of attention from the Biden administration creates a tense environment among South Asian neighbours, impacting China’s foreign policy. Pakistan may seek to resume trade talks with China, potentially leading to increased Chinese exports to Pakistan.

Focusing into Bilateral commerce between the two Nations, Pakitan being a significant actor in the Global south and among its South Asian neighbours, at least till 2021, has seen the largest influx of import goods from the United States worth more than 5 billion Dollars and the most recent fiscal year observing a 50 percent increase in U.S. direct investment in Pakistan, reaching its highest level in over a decade. 

This undesirable and eerie silence on the part of Joe Biden’s administration contributes to an unarticulated hostile environment among Pakistan’s south Asian neighbours. This can have a significant effect on China’s independent foreign policy with Pakistan, which emphasises around key national security issues and terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistan, observing growing relations between India and the United States following the recent signing of the Artemis accord in the President’s mansion, will attempt to resume trade talks with China. This could lead to an increase in Chinese exports to Pakistan, we may be looking at an increase in Chinese goods to Pakistan as seen in 2021 when China   exported 23.5Billion dollars to Pakistan including refined petroleum (1.51 billion) and broadcasting equipment (1.71 billion).

IMPACT ON SOUTH ASIAN NEIGHBOURS

The implications of these restrained and disregardful developments between the United States and Pakistan impact its south Asian neighbours significantly. Recently, Anthony J. Blinken, the Secretary of State of the United States, made remarks about the Undemocratic Activities arising under the Prime Ministership of Sheikh Hasina of the Prominent National Party Awami League. She is also accused of imprisoning members and supporters of her rival Bangladesh National Party.  Notably, these statements come at a time when Bangladesh is about to conduct its next round of general elections in 2024, which will inevitably result in a dejected Bangladeshi government.   

Sri Lanka, another country in South Asia with historical ties to Pakistan, experienced power outages and fuel shortages at the beginning of 2022. The annual rate of inflation increased to 50%. With defaulted interest payments and soaring inflation, the island nation is once again in no position to engage in bilateral negotiations with the United States, With Sri Lanka owing 3 billion dollars to the International Monetary Fund. 

FUTURE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES   

The deteriorating US-Pakistan relationship favours India due to economic conditions. However, US hostility towards Pakistan may lead to tensions and increased Chinese influence, requiring a plan to counter China’s expansionism.

All of this leaves the relationship between the United States and Pakistan as a zero-sum game, as the United States, faced with the destabilising economic conditions of South Asia, can only turn its attention to India, which has been doing exceptionally well since the recent signing of the Artemis accords, which further strengthens National security and Space-Ties between New Delhi and Washington.  

Moreover, the US’s priorities and shifting foreign policy in the Indian subcontinent, with a key focus on Pakistan, may result in unwanted Tensions  between the two, allowing China, an economic superpower with its expansionist policies, to exert more influence in the region. Due to the strengthening of ties between the United States and India, they must address this issue immediately and devise a proposal on how to deal with The Red Dragon. 

In the end, the United States Government may not need to do much more than maintain an opportune silence on the country’s internal affairs and shaken National security and provide financial help with the help of international bodies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

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