Pakistans Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar said her country does not want to be pushed towards taking sides in the ongoing rivalry between US and China, stating that Islamabad has enough problems of its own.
In an interview, she said that Pakistan no longer has the appetite to pick a side between the world’s two largest superpowers, highlighting that Islamabad values its relations and wants to maintain a neutral balance with both the nations.
Khar’s interview was recorded before US President Joe Biden called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a dictator during a political event in California.
Beijing responded aggressively to the remark, saying it was a “serious contradiction of basic facts, seriously violate diplomatic etiquette, and seriously infringe on China’s political dignity”.
Pakistan maintains a critical and challenging position in the scenario as it has close ties with China while it also maintains a relationship with the US as well.
Analysts have expressed their concerns and warned that Biden’s remarks, and Beijing’s response, would make it even more difficult for Pakistan to maintain close ties with both US and China.
Khar further emphasized that Islamabad cannot be part of US-China rivalry as “splitting the world into two blocs is “threatening” for Islamabad”.
“As a nuclear-armed heavyweight of 250 million people, Pakistan is one of the most closely watched front-line states in the contest for strategic influence in Asia.
“While Pakistan’s old Cold War partner Washington in increasingly turning its focus on cooperation with Islamabad’s arch-foe India, China has swooped in to extend its sway in Pakistan — particularly through giant infrastructure projects,” she added.
Khar said that Islamabad look at the US-China rivalry with serious concern.
“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. 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. “
With the US-China rivalry working on strategic influencing countries in Asia, Pakistan may find itself in a difficult position and may be pushed towards expressing its inclination to a bloc, which many say would be Beijing.