Wali Aslam, Bradley A. Thayer
Islamabad’s alliance with Beijing is a strategic blunder because China is a poor alliance partner.
Why Pakistan Should End Its Alliance with China
Pakistan has made several major grand strategic mistakes since its creation in 1947, including the attack on India in 1971, which led to Pakistan’s dismemberment. However, Pakistan is in the midst of making another grave mistake, and it is one seldom discussed. This is the high cost of its alliance with China. Due to the poverty in its long-term, strategic planning, Islamabad’s conception that the Sino-Pakistani alliance is key to Pakistani security introduces dependence on Beijing and creates the avenue for Beijing’s exploitation and manipulation of it—with the result that Pakistan finds itself less secure and alone in the world. We argue that Pakistan should reverse course. The alliance with China ultimately serves China’s ambitions above Pakistan’s. Islamabad should extricate itself from its alliance with China, and improve its position by aligning with other, democratic states.
The rise of China has had profound impact on Pakistan’s strategic calculations. A more powerful and outwardly amicable China causes a natural reaction in Pakistan to align itself more closely with China in order to balance against India, its long-term adversary. Pakistan’s leadership believe that an alliance with China will somehow replace the long-term Pakistani dependence on the United States in mediating its relations with India. They also think that this relationship will help improve Pakistan’s poor economic situation.