President-elect Biden is likely to continue with some of the remnants of Trump’s foreign policy toward Europe, which includes competing with China. However, on major issues of supporting illiberalism and Brexit as well as derision of European allies, Biden’s foreign policy for Europe would significantly differ.
India has very limited options. With this peace deal, it has become clear that the Taliban are bound to come into power sooner or later. So, India needs to prepare accordingly. In a recent visit to New Delhi, US Chief Negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad urged New Delhi to start a political dialogue with the Taliban and directly discuss their terrorism-related concerns. He said, “India is an important force in Afghanistan, and it would be appropriate for that [India-Taliban] engagement to take place.”
It has now become almost obvious that Pakistan and Bangladesh are in the same camp, with China leading from the front. This moment can be an opportunity for both countries to come closer to each other. Still, for that to happen, the two South Asian nations must be honest with each other so that they can capitalize on this moment to forge a lasting relationship.
The election of President-elect Joe Biden and his Vice-President Kamala Harris is most likely to end this vacuum of American policy for the region and engage with the region with strategic insight and assertiveness. Joe Biden was awarded Hilal-e-Pakistan, the second-highest civil-award of the country, and Kamal Harris has ancestral roots in India. The personalized nature of their relationships to both of these countries will indeed influence the interaction once the Biden administration leads the White House. However, in the spirit of previous American interactions with the region, the Biden administration’s interaction with South Asia will be clouded by two mega strategic matters: The rise of China and the Conflict in Afghanistan.
In the past Taliban have inclined towards Pakistan, with Pakistan playing an essential role in the peace deal between the US and the Taliban, however, the recent turn of events is showcasing a different stance taken by the Taliban. With the changing dynamic, the relation has been strained from both sides. Taliban on its front want to appease them and gain the support of the general public which is wary of Pakistan while at the same time they want to establish ties with other nation-states and build their own relationship with them that is independent of Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan is not seeking to support a full Taliban led government as it might have religious repercussions for the Pakistani state.
In the past, Pakistan has firmly stood tall in the face of external compulsion, and some believe that the country’s continued existence is a miracle in itself. As journalists mount pressure on the country to concede from within, will Pakistan stand this test? Whether or not there is any advantage to putting ideologies on a pedestal at the cost of national interest is another question altogether. Surely, Pakistan has suffered greatly from Covid-19, as has the rest of the world. Setting an anti-Zionist agenda as a reason for isolation suddenly seems childish in the face of increasing poverty and internal political dissent.
The election of President-elect Biden came at the heels of the global unrest and questions abound on the ability of the United States to lead the world as it had once. These questions of credibility of US commitment, resolve and political will not only come from the rivals of America (such as China, Iran, North Korea or Russia) but also from the allies whose trust in the American leadership was shattered and deeply broken by the cauldron-fraught presidency of Donald J. Trump.
As the balance oscillates between the world powers, a storm brews, realigning the regional and global dynamics of nations everywhere. The acceptance of Israel by the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries is one such outcome. With Saudi Arabia likely to follow suit, the normalization of relations between the Arab states and Israel brings a serious blow to Pakistan in light of the religious rhetoric under which Pakistan defined its policy towards Israel.
Unlike his predecessors, Trump, with his hyper-nationalistic agenda, has continued to withdraw from international conflicts where the US was previously a key member. Donald Trump’s term brought to implementation a series of questionable internal and foreign policies. The questions remain are; has the United States permanently withdrawn from the international forum and the mess it created in the world? Will Trump’s re-election mean another term of continued US absence from global conflicts, and will the successor in the White House finally act in a way more befitting of a global leader?
The international financial watchdog has given Pakistan a grace period. It might be its last chance to prove its seriousness to implement FATF recommendations. It has to uplift its efforts to get clean of the terror financing charges against it. In other case, it would have to face some severe consequences. The previous efforts by Pakistan show its willingness and eagerness to escape the list. One should hope for the best. It has three months to accelerate its efforts. Hence, the actual test starts now.