A Tough Week for Pakistani Diplomacy

Events lay bare just how strategically isolated Islamabad has become

As my last post noted, the events of the past week show that New Delhi is sitting pretty diplomatically, being courted ardently by both Washington and Beijing.  Conversely, they also laid bare just how strategically isolated Islamabad has become.

Pakistan’s most recent troubles began with President Obama giving President Asif Ali Zardari the cold shoulder at the NATO summit in Chicago three weeks ago.  Since then Washington has dramatically ramped up its campaign of drone attacks in the country’s tribal areas, which last week killed Al Qaeda’s second in command in North Warizistan.  Officials in Islamabad publicly denounce the strikes as violating the country’s sovereignty and they have helped drive a marked increase in anti-American sentiment.  Yet U.S. officials reportedly believe that they have very little to lose by defying Pakistani sensitivities. Continue reading

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Islamabad Looking for Love but Bereft of Suitors

Pakistan’s embarrassing rhetoric towards Beijing is a sign of strategic desperation

The playing off of two stronger patrons by a smaller or weaker country is a time-honored tactic in international politics.  So it is no surprise that Pakistan seeks to create geopolitical leverage by nuzzling up to China whenever a downdraft occurs in its relations with the United States.  But Islamabad’s current approach to Beijing is striking on two counts.

The first is the profusion of fulsome, even embarrassing, metaphors that Pakistan issues in an attempt to inveigle China.   The second is how ineffective the sweet talking has been in enticing Beijing to attach itself ever closer to the Islamic Republic, or in spurring Washington into fits of jealousy. Continue reading