Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Outlook: Navigating a New Era of Great Power Competition

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A discussion with Dr Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistani Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, on Pakistani foreign policy at a time of flux in global geopolitics.

Pakistan has long been an important partner for the West, first during the Cold War and then in its campaign in Afghanistan. However, the relationship has often been an uncomfortable one in recent years, given Pakistan’s growing closeness to China and ‘grey listing’ by the Financial Action Task Force. Following a downturn in Pakistan’s ties with the US in the early years of the Trump administration, the relationship improved in 2019 following a bilateral reset, notably over cooperation on Afghanistan. Now, as the US winds down its military presence in Afghanistan, what lies ahead for Pakistan’s ties with Washington under a Biden administration, and with the West more broadly? In particular, how does the increasing competition between China and the US affect Pakistan’s interests, especially as the US grows closer to India in an effort to balance against the challenges posed by China’s rise?

Under Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has adopted a more proactive foreign policy, particularly on questions around regional security, and has seen shifts in its relationships with key partners in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Event speaker

Dr Maleeha Lodhi unpacks what these changes mean for Pakistan and outline Islamabad’s foreign policy and security priorities.

Dr Maleeha Lodhi was until October 2019 Pakistan’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, the first woman to hold the post. She was Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain from 2003–2008 and served twice as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US (1993–1996, 1999–2002). She also served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Affairs from 2001 to 2005. Dr Lodhi has received the President’s award of Hilal-e-Imtiaz for Public Service in Pakistan and is a member of the advisory board of the annual Global Risk Report of the World Economic Forum.

This event is chaired by Dr Neil Melvin, Director of International Security Studies, RUSI.

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