The global economic landscape has undergone profound changes since the end of the Cold War. This successive transition posed heinous challenges; simultaneously it offered opportunities to the states around the world to refurbish policies aligned with their interests. Notwithstanding the concurrence of the US-led global order, the rise of China has revamped the dynamics in favor of states that are eager to abandon the conformist security paradigm and want to restructure imperatives of security, progress, and development. In Pakistan’s context, the fallouts of unipolar world order coupled with domestic political and economic constraints beleaguered Pakistan. In the first decade of the 21st century, Pakistan’s foreign policy apparatus driven through the security-oriented calculus as Pakistan remain the coalition partner and front line state in the global ‘War on Terror’ thus continue applying the same security parameters to design its foreign policy vis-a-vis immediate neighbors and other regional states. Nevertheless, China’s BRI initiative of revitalizing the ancient Silk Road route put the economy at center stage and the helm of regional geopolitics start revolving around this mega Beijing-led initiative. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a pilot project set the platform for Pakistan to redefine its preferences from security-driven ambitions to economic-led policies.
The rhetoric of shift in the foreign policy became eminently visible during the government of PTI that decisively opted economy as vertex point of Pakistan’s envisioned path of progress and prosperity for the foreseeable future. In an account of this, the idea of human security echoes a shift from a state-centric security paradigm to social welfare. Human security has several dimensions, including water security, food security, community security, health security, environmental security respectively. Pakistan’s shift has pivoted around the country becoming a regional hub of economic connectivity in South Asia and is driven by the “sincere desire to re-cast Pakistan’s image as a peace-loving and useful member of the international community.” Henceforth, the stakeholders, policymakers are determined to ensure national economic security that remains imperative for Pakistan’s capacity to maximize its defense and deterrence and to spend greater resources on human welfare.
To have a critical appraisal of Pakistan’s Geo-economic vision, the understanding of the global economic model is a prerequisite. Contemporarily, redistribution in global economic power has given rise to a new era of great power competition, driven by great power competition between the US and China, instrumented by economic tools to achieve strategic objectives. This increased convergence of economic and security thinking and strategies to change into a noteworthy reformation of the global economic regime that governs international trade and investment. In addition to that in the new geo-economics world order, the balance and relationship between economics and security have also altered with a greater focus on relative economic gains given their implications for security; and extended apprehension over the security vulnerability posed by interdependence of undermining state control, self-sufficiency and resilience. On a broader canvas, the Chinese model of economic development (BRI) has attained resounding success and to an extent, Pakistan’s economic endeavors are converging with this [vary] project that has its outreach from Asia to Europe and Middle to Africa. Thus there is a clear preference of “economy” as modus operandi of diplomatic deliberations at inters- state level.
From Pakistan’s lens, sitting at the crossroads of South, Central, and West Asia makes it one of the key actors in the realm of regional multilateral affairs. To take full advantage of its geographic presence, Pakistan aims to shift its focus from geo-politics to geo-economics through interest maximization based on enhancing connectivity and paving the path for all-encompassing development. The reflection of the envisioned economic policy of inclusive growth and development can be witnessed in Pakistan’s civil, military leadership’s initiatives toward non- non-confrontational neighborhood policy. Normalization of ties with India is one major step towards realizing the shift from geopolitics to geo-economics.
To conclude, in pursuit of Pakistan’s prosperity, this holistic shift in its foreign policy trajectory opened up fresh corridors of diplomatic engagement. The new strides will not only enable Pakistan to ensure its domestic social and economic stability but will also assist Pakistan to accomplish the desired endeavors globally. Indeed, there is a dire need to execute a coherent and pragmatic strategy that cans in turn Pakistan’s geo-economics vision into reality.