Pakistan doesn’t want to pick sides in growing US-China rivalry: Minister Khar

Islamabad, Jun 22 (PTI) Pakistan has enough problems of its own and does not want the added headache of a new Cold War between China and the United States, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar has said.

Khar insisted that an all-out rupture between the US and China would present Pakistan, an all-weather ally of Beijing, with an unpalatably binary strategic choice.

“We have a history of being in a close, collaborative mode with the US. We have no intention of leaving that. Pakistan also has the reality of being in a close, collaborative mode with China, and until China suddenly came to everyone’s threat perception, that was always the case,” Dawn newspaper quoted Khar as saying in an interview with Washington-based news outlet Politico this week.

“We are highly threatened by this notion of splitting the world into two blocs. We are very concerned about this decoupling anything that splits the world further,” she said.

The minister said Islamabad had no appetite to pick a side in the growing global rivalry between Washington and Beijing as Politico highlighted the problems countries like Pakistan face in maintaining good ties with both Beijing and Washington.

The interview was recorded before US President Joe Biden called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a dictator at a political event in California on Tuesday.

The comment earned a swift and angry response from Beijing which said the remarks “seriously contradict basic facts, violate diplomatic etiquette, and seriously infringe on China’s political dignity”.

Politico recalled that Khar grabbed headlines in April when a leaked memo appeared in The Wall Street Journal in which she was cited as a warning that Pakistan’s instinct to preserve its partnership with the US would harm what she deemed the country’s “real strategic” partnership with China.

She declined to comment on that leak, but took a more bullish line on continued American power in her interview, saying the US was unnecessarily fearful and defensive about being toppled from its plinth of global leadership, which she argued remained vital in areas such as healthcare, technology, trade and combating climate change.