Stranded between unstable Afghanistan and a huge India is a country of Pakistan which faced some extreme conditions in recent times. While on the one hand, the relations of the country with India remained hostile; on the other, Afghanistan always blamed Pakistan for insurgency in the country. Fortunately, Pakistan has its all-weather friend in the form of the People Republic of China, which sits in the north of Pakistan. The location of Pakistan allows her to have access to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean throughout the year. The very location of Pakistan allowed her to have one of the most significant corridors for trade in the form of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). On the south-western side of Pakistan lies Iran, which is in ideological warfare with the United States of America. Despite having the first country to accept Pakistan and the religious connection, the relations of Pakistan with Iran remained in the doldrums. India needs Pakistan to reach the landlocked country of Afghanistan, which shares a border with Pakistan at the Durand line. As China is emerging as a new superpower of the world, it remains in the national interest of Pakistan to capitalize on the CPEC to get economic as well as social stability. So, the geo-strategic location of Pakistan offers a great mix of opportunities and challenges, and it can be used to improve the status of the country in the world.
The Relations with India:
One of the main reasons for Pakistan to emerge as the security-centric state is the presence of the aggressive neighbor in the form of India, as the government suggests, which does not leave a chance to harm Pakistan. Both countries went to war four times over the disputed territory of Kashmir, which is the oldest unresolved dispute of the known history. Since the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, Kashmir remained the bone of contention between the two nations.
The geo-strategic location of the country enforces it to put a significant chunk of its budget towards the military. For this very reason, the military emerged as the most influential institute in Pakistan and showed too much interest in handling and regulating politics in Pakistan. India often blames Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in India. From the Mumbai attacks in 2008 to the Uri attack in 2016 to the Pulwama attack in 2019, India always blamed Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in India. In the latest military engagement when airforces of both nations engaged in aerial combat, Pakistan’s airforce shot down two military aircraft of India and captured one pilot, who was given back to India after a couple of days.
Both nations are in pursuit of having more and more weapons to get the upper hand in the war. The Indo-Pak border, or as we say it Redcliffe line, is considered as the most dangerous border of the world along with the line of control that separates Pakistan’s administrated Kashmir to Indian administrated Kashmir. Experts believe that as far as the Kashmir issue persists, the relations between the two nations cannot get healed. The peace of south Asia is undoubtedly at stake as far as two nuclear powers continue to come closer to each other for all the wrong purposes.
The long-lasting friendship with China:
Talking about the People Republic of China, it is the biggest ally of Pakistan in the world. The friendship with China is too essential for Pakistan that Pakistan gave a piece of Kashmir to China to settle a dispute with China. The project of CPEC, which is of great importance for Pakistan, offers it a way to tackle its economic crisis. The $62 billion project is a part of One Belt One Road initiative of China, which is connecting the world and is one of the reasons for the emergence of China in today’s world. Many view China as a new global giant, which is starting a new phase of the colonialization of the world by targetting the poor and economically vulnerable states. China is developing a port in Gawadar, a city in the province of Balochistan, which will give it a way to have oil trade with countries of the Middle East.
Relations with war-torn Afghanistan:
Afghanistan is yet another country that often blames Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism on its soil. If we go back to the past, we can analyze that Pakistan supported America against USSR in the cold war in Afghanistan. The local and the imported boys from Saudi Arabia, or as they are being called as Mujahideen, were trained by the Pakistani military against the Soviet Union. As the Soviet Union got defeated and came to its knees in 1991, these Mujahidens started to make factions and began to launch attacks around the globe. The insurgency of 9/11, which pushed the world in another war, was also orchestrated by these men. America blamed Pakistan for backing these Talibans, due to which the relations between Pakistan and America also became volatile. Pakistan saw an upsurge in local attacks as terrorists attacked every corner of Pakistan from Karachi to Kashmir. Now, as the 19 years old war of America in Afghanistan comes to an end, it is too early to say anything about the future behavior of these armed fundamentalists in the form of the Taliban.
Pakistan and Iran Relationship:
Towards the southern-western border of Pakistan lies Iran, which is also finding stability as the tensions between her and the USA continue to rise. Despite having a religious connection with Pakistan, the relationship between the two countries continued to toggle between two extremes. As the situation stands today, both countries are having good relations since the arrival of the new government in Islamabad. Pakistan also finds itself in a hard position when she has to take a side in the Saudi-Iran conflict.
Concludingly, Pakistan is located at a very critical location with respect to longitude and latitude, and the location of Pakistan offers a great mix of opportunities and challenges. But it is as it is, and the country must strive to improve its relations with its neighbors. Some advancements in the relations with India can prove fruitful as it will not only reduce tensions between the two countries but also in the whole world in general. By having good relations with India and Afghanistan, the state can allocate the significant portion of its budget to education and healthcare as the literacy rate of the country still stands at a mere 58% as per the latest reports.