Analysis: Why the United States values a financially secure Pakistan

Over the past few weeks and months, the United States has made it abundantly clear that it closely monitors Pakistan’s economic and security developments.

Over the course of the past three months, Pakistan has been mentioned in passing or specifically in more than a dozen statements. In each of these statements, the tone reflects a level of concern that has never been seen before.

The most recent statement from the State Department emphasized that Washington was aware of Pakistan’s financial issues and supported efforts to rebuild the economy. It also expressed hope for economic stability in the country.

Dawn was informed by a spokesperson for the State Department that the nation needed to collaborate with international financial institutions to improve its economy. She was asked if Washington shared the nation’s widespread concern that Islamabad is on the verge of economic collapse.

In order to “put Pakistan on a sustainable growth path” and “restore investor confidence,” the US official stated, “We encourage Pakistan to continue working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the implementation of reforms, especially those that will improve Pakistan’s business environment.”

“Doing so will make Pakistani business more competitive and assist Pakistan in attracting high-quality foreign investment.”

When Dawn asked Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari a similar question, he responded: “As long as we are willing to help ourselves,” others would continue to help Pakistan.

“We must take the necessary steps at home to assist them in assisting us.”

At a recent conference held in Geneva, the foreign minister mentioned that the international community had pledged to provide approximately half of the funds that Pakistan required for reconstruction following the floods in 2022. The remaining 50% must now be contributed by Pakistan.

In addition, the foreign minister emphasized the importance of reaching a “conclusion with the IMF” and responding to the proposal to renegotiate our debt made by Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, and Antonio Gutteres, the secretary general of the United Nations.

“Pakistan’s macroeconomic stability is a topic of conversation between the Pakistani and US governments, including the US Department of State and our counterparts, the Department of the Treasury, and the White House,” the official from the State Department said to put the situation in perspective.

Rivalry among the superpowers of South Asia, but why is Washington so concerned with Pakistan’s economic stability and other issues? The world cannot afford to see a nation with a nuclear arsenal on the verge of extinction, according to conventional wisdom, and our nuclear program is the driving force. However, the issue is far more complex than this conventional wisdom suggests.

“Pakistan is the fifth largest country in the world and the second largest Muslim country – that’s with a large army and an extensive nuclear infrastructure,” states Hassan Abbas, distinguished professor of international relations at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Pakistan is also the country with the second most Muslims.

“Anyone who cares about maintaining global stability and international order could suffer greatly from Pakistan’s economic collapse. The United States of America, a major global power, is naturally concerned.

“Secondly, the US would not like Pakistan’s economy to collapse while it is steered by a democratic government that is attempting to normalize its relationship with the US,” he adds.

Additionally, he highlights the rivalry between the major powers in South Asia: In order to prevent Pakistan from excessively leaning toward China, it is in the US’s best interest to convey to Pakistan that it wishes to remain engaged and cooperate whenever possible.

This viewpoint is shared by John Ciorciari, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He makes the observation that donors like Saudi Arabia and China always have implicit strings attached to their aid, despite the fact that they may not have many explicit conditions.

“China will look to Pakistan for good opportunities for development, such as the energy corridor that connects China’s western provinces to the Arabian Sea and the strategically important port of Gwadar,” Pakistan will also be sought out by China for assistance in geopolitical issues such as Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as the Taiwan Strait.

Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, concurs. The possibility of Pakistan’s economy collapsing poses a significant threat to the country’s overall stability. As a result, it makes sense for Washington to want Islamabad to get back on track after its economic crisis.

He asserts, “I’m not sure if the US fears the Pakistani economy will collapse, but I do think it’s keen to do what it can to help avert that outcome—including supporting efforts to get things back on track again with the IMF.” “I’m not sure if the US fears the Pakistani economy will collapse.”

Kamran Asdar Ali, a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin who used to be the head of the South Asia Institute, uses historical context to explain why the White House is so worried about Islamabad’s financial health.

Pakistan’s relationship with the United States has been linked to a number of US security concerns in the region since the 1950s: During the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s, it was closely associated with politics; In the 1980s, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Iran’s revolution took center stage. In the early 2000s, this relationship was rekindled following the events of September 11, 2001.

It also accepted and supported Pakistani military regimes, which in turn received assistance, both military and non-military. The US state was closest to Pakistan’s military and civilian elite throughout all of these phases. “With the change in Afghanistan in 2021 and the shift toward a China containment policy within the US,” he notes, “it has clearly shifted its regional preference to India.”

He argues, however, that economic volatility may also lead to a less stable government in Pakistan, which may have an effect on the military as a whole—Washington’s long-term partner in the country.

A stable parliamentary system with checks and balances could be argued to be Pakistan’s most effective economic strategy. As a result, in the event of an uncertain future and an economic downturn, Pakistan could once more become a fertile ground for extremism.

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