KARACHI: Pakistan has been listed the 14th most powerful country in Asia on the Lowy Institute Asia Power Index, according to a recently released report on the subject which aimed to qualify and track the wealth and influence of nations on the continent.
The Australian think tank outlined that the inaugural index ranked 25 countries in Asia based on their overall influence, which was calculated using eight measures of power and 114 sub-indicators.
The eight measures listed in the index were economic resources, military capability, resilience, future trends. diplomatic influence, economic relationships, defence networks and cultural influence.
Pakistan was 14th on the overall power ranking, scoring 15.1 out of a maximum of 100. However, the report based on the listing underlined that the country was an ‘underachiever’ in terms of influencing the behaviour of other states and the course of international events, as it did not exert as much authority in global affairs as the resources on offer to Pakistan seemed to suggest.
Other key findings highlighted in the report noted that three of the four largest economies in the world were now from Asia and that global wealth and power was ‘shifting eastwards’.
The Sydney-based institute also cautioned that even though the strategic and political dynamics of the world were changing as Asia transformed, conflicts within the continent ‘would define war and peace in the twenty-first century’.
Pakistan on the Asia Power Index
Pakistan was 14th on the list of 25 countries ranked according to their overall power ranking on the index, scoring 15.1 out of a total of 100. The strongest performance indicators for the country were military capabilities and the forecast of future trends, according to a short, country-specific analysis by Lowy Institute which accompanied the report.
Pakistan was 18th on the list of Asian countries with most economic resources, and had a score of 3.8 out 100. This measure of power listed the economic strengths of a country in terms of GDP at purchasing power party, international leverage, technological sophistication and global connectivity.
In terms of military capability, Pakistan was 7th on the list of 25 countries, scoring 27.5 out of 100. The military prowess of nations was ranked keeping in mind defence spending, weapons platforms, armed forces and organisation and signature capabilities relative to other powers.
The country was the 19th most resilient Asian nation, and scored 28.5 out of 100 on this ranking, according to the Australian think tank. The resilience was measured using different indicators for geo-economic security, geo-political security and internal institutional stability inside Pakistan.
The future trends measure of power bode slightly better news for Pakistan, as the country came in 7th in Asia, with a score of 7.6. This listing was calculated using the projected distribution of economic, military and demographic resources in Pakistan by 2030.
Besides these resource measures, Lowy Institute also studied influence measures such as diplomatic clout, economic relationships, defence networks and cultural influences of Pakistan in the global arena, and the results are not altogether encouraging. For example, the country is 14th, 20th, 14th and 17th on these lists respectively. It also has a negative power gap score, indicative of the ‘underachievement’ of Pakistani state power in international bodies.
However, there were some ‘noteworthy indicators’ underlined in the report by Lowy Institute which Pakistan needs to monitor going forward.
The working age population in the country is expected to grow by 41.63 million people between 2015 and 2030, and will drive the demand for job growth.
Militancy remains a problem in Pakistan , and the country was ranked most politically unstable in the Asia Power Index, with 908 violent protests recorded between 2013 and 2017. In order to project power more effectively, the country has to tackle this issue on an emergency basis.
According to the Australian body, Pakistan is the only country in the Asia-Pacific that does not have a long range ballistic missile system. This could prove to be a significant game-changer in the security arena, even though Pakistan is pursuing the development of tactical weapons to offset this imbalance.
In terms of trade relationships, Beijing is the biggest partner of Islamabad, and the business between the two countries equals $13.3 billion, which is 43 per cent of the total regional trade of Pakistan. The US is second on the list, with a 17 per cent stake in our business sector, and the trade between the two countries is worth $5.6 billion. Indonesia, India and Japan are other big business partners of Pakistan, the report noted.
Cultural influence of Pakistan is most evident in India, Lowy Institute highlighted. 59 per cent of Google searchers in the country indicate interest in India, and almost 18 per cent of Pakistanis express a desire to travel to India. The United States is second on this indicator too, as tourism and student exchange programmes form the basis of the cultural links between Islamabad and Washington. Australia, Malaysia and China also have cultural ties to Pakistan.
The defence networks of Pakistan are mainly based in the United States and China, the report maintained. Pakistan and US have a security pact and fight together in wars, according to Lowy Institute. The countries conducted 11 joint military exercises in the last five years, and are engaged in arms transfers too.
Beijing and Islamabad, although strong defence partners, have not fought any wars together, but have held 7 joint military exercises in the last five years and exchanged more than $3 billion worth of weapons. Australia and New Zealand are minor defence partners to Pakistan.
The report drew important conclusions about power dynamics in Asia, and maintained that the United States is the most influential external actor in the region. It has a ten-point lead over China on the overall power ranking, and has an elaborate network of military alliances in the heart of Asia which China has not yet matched.
In addition, cultural influences from the West, especially in terms of news and media consumption, and academic collaboration, further strengthen the position of Washington as a key player in Asia.
In terms of economic relations, however, the Chinese are overtaking the United States and emerging as the second most important superpower in the Asia-Pacific. China is also ahead of the US in terms of diplomatic clout and future trends, and by 2030, China’s GDP is forecast to be almost twice the size as that of the United States at purchasing power parity.
Japan and India are identified as major powers in Asia by Lowy Institute, and are also called the ‘cultural powerhouses’ of the region. Interestingly, Russia, North Korea and Taiwan are only ‘middle powers’ in Asia, while Singapore, Australia and South Korea are ‘over-performers’ in terms of projecting their power as sovereign states, Lowy Institute outlined.
Overall, as a new world order takes shape and power shifts eastward, it is estimated that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in Asia, compared with just over a tenth in the West, the report concluded.