Vol. 12 No. 1 (2024): Journal of Strategic Studies, Summer 2024

Assessing the Changing Dynamics of US-Pakistan Relations in the Evolving Geopolitical Landscape of South Asia

Dr. Taimur Shamil
Dr. Taimur Shamil holds a PhD in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. He is currently an academic based in New York.
Published June 28, 2024
  • Pakistan-US Relations,
  • South Asia,
  • Great power competition,
  • Pakistan-China relations
How to Cite
Dr. Taimur Shamil. (2024). Assessing the Changing Dynamics of US-Pakistan Relations in the Evolving Geopolitical Landscape of South Asia. CISS Insight Journal, 12(1). Retrieved from https://journal.ciss.org.pk/index.php/ciss-insight/article/view/360


Historically, relations between Pakistan and the United States have been exceptional and often underrated. Much of the discourse on Pakistan-US relations focuses on the downside of their bilateral engagement. However, a careful assessment of Pak-US relations highlights the areas where Pakistan and the US collaborated in crucial ways. A study of historical events such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the Taliban-US deal in Doha 2020 highlights Pakistan’s critical role as a strategic player and partner with the US. Pakistan is also an important country for the US in the sense that the latter has sought the former’s backing in crucial times such as during the US War on Terror after the 9/11 incident and subsequently, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. In parallel, as the great power competition between the US and China takes a new turn, Pakistan seems to be playing an essential role in the evolving global geopolitics and regional strategic stability of South Asia. In this process, China sees Pakistan as a key player in the region. Both China and Pakistan collaborate in several domains such as infrastructure development, energy, trade, and technology. However, developments such as Indo-US defense deals, their increasing strategic partnership, and official US statements suggest that the US has put its relations with Pakistan on the back burner as it assigns India the role of a net-security provider of the region. However, despite their strong partnership, US relations with India have faced challenges and downturns, especially after the planned killings of Americans and Canadians on their respective soil. In parallel, India is adhering to a policy of accommodation with China and is reluctant to get into serious confrontations against the latter. Against this backdrop, the paper argues that India’s tendency to hedge its bets makes it an unreliable partner for the US. Hence, the US should do a balancing act by strengthening its relations with other regional states especially Pakistan. The paper suggests that Pakistan and the US reinforce their relationship on consolidated grounds by mitigating mistrust and strengthening shared understanding to achieve peace and stability in the region.