US Indo-Pacific Strategy and Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: The Hedging Option

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Abstract

Pakistan finds itself at the horns of a strategic dilemma as the US-China rivalry intensifies in international politics. At the heart of the dilemma is the spectre of choosing between the United States (US) and China which has the intended effect of raising costs for Pakistan’s foreign policy. Recent commentaries on Pakistan’s foreign policy advocate the need for Pakistan to strike a balance between China and the US. In contradistinction to such commentaries, the present article makes a more nuanced case for the ‘hedging’ strategy. Hedging involves policies that advocate a mixture of return-maximization and risk-contingency planning that circumvents the dominance of major powers. The article argues that Pakistan’s hedging strategy necessitates the avoidance of binaries in international politics, prioritisation of economic gains and domestic political stability. Pakistan’s hedging option is contextualised with respect to the US Indo-Pacific strategy as outlined in the Department of Defense 2019 report.

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