The arrival of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has put more than just human lives across the world at stake with the incumbent world order also under threat with China taking the lead in a new world order. Islamabad, however, should not opt to pillion-ride with Beijing on every issue and must engage in a skillful balancing of its relations with other crucial countries as well.
These thoughts were expressed by former foreign secretary Riaz Hussain Khokhar during a webinar on the ‘Impact of Covid-19 on Pakistan’s International Relations at Regional and Global Levels’. The online discussion was organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on Thursday as part of its ongoing webinar series ‘Covid-19: Global Challenges, National Response’.
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Regarding the pandemic, Khokhar said that Pakistan’s friendship with China has once again withstood the test of time.
This strong relationship can also prove vital in bringing much-needed reforms to the weak health infrastructure of the country as well as vulnerable sectors such as education, agriculture, science and technology, and environment, which have been exposed in the wake of the pandemic.
He warned that Pakistan’s Covid-19 graph for positive cases, as well as for deaths, is expected to go up with time and hence it must put its act together at the earliest as failure may make things very difficult for the country to handle.
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Khokhar advised Islamabad to maintain balanced relations with other countries such as the US alongside China because of its national interests.
In this regard, he said that US President Donald Trump is trying to whip up hysteria about China ahead of elections in November, and the tussle between the two countries, including the issue of the South China Sea, could make the US pile pressure on Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2020.
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