Discussion paper

In recent years, Pakistan has seen a major shift in its foreign and defence policy orientation taking political pundits by surprise. This shift is an outcome of the domestic changes occurring in Pakistan as well as a rapidly changing global world order. At the core of this shift, however, lie the ideological underpinnings of Pakistan’s security establishment. On the domestic front, the rise of sectarian violence, terrorism and economic meltdown have all pushed the government to make certain strategic changes. At the same time, Pakistan’s first democratic transition has strengthened the country’s democratic institutions, allowing the newly elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to enhance his ties with the military establishment in steering the security policy of the country.

This new-found civil-military balance in Pakistan has not developed from a vacuum but is the result of a changing global environment that has compelled the civilian political leadership and the military establishment to work closely together. The shift in US foreign policy towards the Middle East highlighted by its recent nuclear negotiations with Iran and its potential withdrawal from Afghanistan, India’s enhanced global prominence and the overall rise of Asia have all contributed to Pakistan’s new security outlook. However, it is the recent US$50 billion Chinese investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that has most affected Pakistan’s foreign and defence priorities, ushering in a new era of Pakistan’s security policy outlook and, potentially, the global architecture of alliance blocs.

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