Pakistan’s Foreign Policy in 2024: Balancing Relations with Key Global Players


Pakistan’s foreign policy in 2024 continues to navigate a complex geopolitical landscape marked by shifting alliances, regional tensions, and evolving global power dynamics. As a pivotal state in South Asia, Pakistan’s strategic location, economic aspirations, and security concerns necessitate a delicate balancing act in its relations with key global players. This essay examines Pakistan’s foreign policy strategies, focusing on its interactions with major powers such as the United States, China, Russia, and its regional neighbors, India and Afghanistan. The analysis highlights the opportunities and challenges Pakistan faces as it seeks to balance these relationships while advancing its national interests.

Historical Context

To understand Pakistan’s foreign policy in 2024, it is essential to consider its historical context. Since its inception in 1947, Pakistan’s foreign policy has been influenced by its rivalry with India, its strategic partnership with the United States during the Cold War, and its evolving relationship with China. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and subsequent U.S. and Pakistani support for Afghan Mujahideen fighters further complicated regional dynamics. The post-9/11 era saw Pakistan become a frontline state in the U.S.-led War on Terror, which significantly impacted its internal and external policies. As global power structures shift, Pakistan continues to adapt its foreign policy to address new challenges and opportunities.

Pakistan-United States Relations

Strategic Partnership and Security Cooperation

The relationship between Pakistan and the United States has historically been characterized by periods of close cooperation and significant tension. In 2024, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is multifaceted, focusing on security cooperation, economic ties, and regional stability. The U.S. recognizes Pakistan’s strategic importance in counterterrorism efforts and regional security, particularly concerning Afghanistan and the broader South Asian region.

Economic and Development Assistance

The United States continues to provide economic and development assistance to Pakistan, supporting various sectors such as education, health, and infrastructure. This aid is aimed at promoting stability and development, addressing the root causes of extremism, and fostering economic growth. The U.S. also encourages Pakistan to implement economic reforms and enhance its trade and investment climate.

Challenges and Divergences

Despite cooperation, significant challenges persist in U.S.-Pakistan relations. Divergences over issues such as counterterrorism strategies, human rights, and nuclear proliferation often strain the relationship. The U.S. has expressed concerns about Pakistan’s alleged support for militant groups and its nuclear program, while Pakistan has sought greater recognition of its security concerns, particularly regarding India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan-China Relations

All-Weather Strategic Partnership

Pakistan’s relationship with China is often described as an “all-weather strategic partnership,” reflecting deep-rooted ties based on mutual strategic interests. In 2024, this partnership continues to strengthen, with China being a crucial ally and economic partner for Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), remains a cornerstone of bilateral relations.

Economic and Infrastructure Development

CPEC has brought significant Chinese investment into Pakistan, focusing on infrastructure development, energy projects, and industrial zones. This investment aims to enhance Pakistan’s connectivity, boost its economic growth, and address its energy shortages. The success of CPEC is seen as vital for Pakistan’s economic future, providing opportunities for job creation and industrialization.

Geopolitical and Security Cooperation

Beyond economic ties, Pakistan and China cooperate closely on regional and global security issues. Both countries share concerns about regional stability, particularly in Afghanistan, and have collaborated on counterterrorism efforts. China’s support for Pakistan in international forums, including its stance on the Kashmir issue, further solidifies their strategic partnership.

Pakistan-Russia Relations

Reviving Historical Ties

Pakistan’s relationship with Russia has undergone significant transformation over the past decade. Historically, the two countries were on opposite sides of the Cold War divide, but recent years have seen a thaw in relations. In 2024, Pakistan and Russia are working to expand their bilateral cooperation in various sectors, including defense, energy, and trade.

Defense and Security Cooperation

Defense cooperation between Pakistan and Russia has grown, with joint military exercises, arms deals, and training programs enhancing their strategic ties. This cooperation is aimed at diversifying Pakistan’s defense partnerships and reducing its reliance on traditional allies. Russia’s willingness to engage with Pakistan reflects its broader strategy to expand its influence in South Asia.

Energy and Economic Collaboration

Energy cooperation is another key area of Pakistan-Russia relations. Russia’s expertise in energy development and its interest in participating in Pakistan’s energy projects, such as the North-South gas pipeline, offer opportunities for mutual benefit. Expanding trade and investment ties is also a priority, with both countries seeking to enhance their economic engagement.

Pakistan-India Relations

Enduring Rivalry and Diplomatic Stalemate

The relationship between Pakistan and India remains one of the most challenging aspects of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The longstanding rivalry, primarily centered around the Kashmir dispute, continues to impede meaningful dialogue and cooperation. In 2024, bilateral relations are marked by occasional escalations, mutual distrust, and a lack of substantive diplomatic engagement.

Potential for Confidence-Building Measures

Despite the adversarial relationship, there are opportunities for confidence-building measures that could pave the way for improved relations. Track II diplomacy, people-to-people exchanges, and trade initiatives could help build trust and create a conducive environment for dialogue. Resolving less contentious issues, such as water disputes and cross-border trade, could serve as a starting point for broader engagement.

Regional Stability and Cooperation

Regional stability and economic cooperation in South Asia hinge on improved Pakistan-India relations. Both countries could benefit from collaborative efforts to combat terrorism, enhance trade, and address shared environmental challenges. International actors, including the United States and China, have a role to play in encouraging dialogue and facilitating conflict resolution between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations

Navigating Post-Taliban Afghanistan

Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan is crucial for regional stability and security. The withdrawal of U.S. troops and the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan have created a complex and uncertain situation. In 2024, Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan focuses on maintaining stability, preventing cross-border terrorism, and managing the flow of refugees.

Economic and Trade Cooperation

Pakistan is keen to enhance economic and trade ties with Afghanistan, recognizing the potential for mutually beneficial cooperation. Improving cross-border trade, investing in infrastructure projects, and supporting Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts are key priorities. Enhanced connectivity through road and rail links can facilitate trade and economic integration in the region.

Security and Counterterrorism Efforts

Ensuring security and preventing terrorism are paramount concerns for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Collaborative efforts to combat terrorist networks and enhance border security are essential for regional peace. Pakistan seeks to engage with the Taliban-led government to address security challenges while advocating for an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.

Pakistan-Gulf States Relations

Economic and Labor Ties

Pakistan’s relations with the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are characterized by strong economic and labor ties. The Gulf region is a significant source of remittances for Pakistan, with millions of Pakistani expatriates working in these countries. In 2024, maintaining and expanding these economic ties remains a priority for Pakistan.

Strategic and Security Cooperation

Strategic and security cooperation with the Gulf states is another critical aspect of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Military cooperation, joint exercises, and defense agreements strengthen these relationships. Pakistan also seeks to balance its ties with rival Gulf powers, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, to avoid entanglement in regional conflicts.

Energy Security and Investment

Energy security is a key consideration in Pakistan-Gulf relations. The Gulf states are major suppliers of oil and gas to Pakistan, and ensuring a stable energy supply is vital for Pakistan’s economic stability. Additionally, attracting investment from the Gulf in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, and real estate is a priority for Pakistan’s economic development.

Balancing Relations with Key Global Players

Strategic Balancing Act

Balancing relations with key global players requires a nuanced and pragmatic approach. Pakistan’s foreign policy in 2024 emphasizes maintaining strategic autonomy while leveraging partnerships to advance its national interests. Navigating the U.S.-China rivalry, managing relations with Russia, and addressing regional tensions are central to this balancing act.

Leveraging Economic Opportunities

Economic diplomacy plays a crucial role in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Attracting foreign investment, expanding trade, and enhancing economic cooperation with global and regional partners are key priorities. Pakistan seeks to capitalize on its strategic location and economic potential to foster economic growth and development.

Ensuring Security and Stability

Security and stability are paramount considerations in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Addressing internal and external security challenges, combating terrorism, and promoting regional peace are essential for creating a conducive environment for development. Strengthening defense and security partnerships with key global players enhances Pakistan’s security capabilities.

Engaging in Multilateral Diplomacy

Multilateral diplomacy is a vital tool for advancing Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives. Active participation in international organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and regional forums like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization enables Pakistan to influence global and regional agendas. Multilateral engagement also provides platforms for addressing common challenges and fostering cooperation.

Future Prospects

Economic Growth and Development

The future prospects of Pakistan’s foreign policy hinge on its ability to achieve sustained economic growth and development. Enhancing economic cooperation, attracting foreign investment, and implementing economic reforms are essential for realizing this goal. Economic stability and growth will strengthen Pakistan’s position in the international arena.

Regional Integration and Cooperation

Regional integration and cooperation are vital for Pakistan’s long-term stability and prosperity. Strengthening ties with neighboring countries, fostering regional trade, and addressing shared challenges such as terrorism and climate change can enhance regional stability. Collaborative efforts in South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East can create a conducive environment for peace and development.

Leveraging Strategic Location

Pakistan’s strategic location at the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East offers significant opportunities for enhancing connectivity and trade. Capitalizing on this location through infrastructure development, trade corridors, and energy projects can boost Pakistan’s economic prospects. Strengthening connectivity with neighboring countries and regional blocs will enhance Pakistan’s role as a regional hub.

Promoting Peace and Stability

Promoting peace and stability in the region is essential for Pakistan’s security and development. Addressing conflicts, fostering dialogue, and supporting inclusive political solutions are crucial for regional peace. Pakistan’s proactive engagement in peacebuilding efforts and conflict resolution can contribute to a stable and prosperous region.


Pakistan’s foreign policy in 2024 is characterized by a complex balancing act, navigating relations with key global players while advancing its national interests. The multifaceted nature of Pakistan’s interactions with the United States, China, Russia, India, Afghanistan, and the Gulf states reflects the dynamic and evolving geopolitical landscape. By leveraging economic opportunities, ensuring security and stability, and engaging in multilateral diplomacy, Pakistan seeks to achieve sustained growth, regional integration, and global influence. The future prospects of Pakistan’s foreign policy hinge on its ability to adapt to changing global dynamics, foster economic development, and promote peace and stability in the region.

This article is written by Shaan Abbas. Shaan is a research analyst at the Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies (IIPS).

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