Dissed by the US, distrusted by India, and held at arm’s length by China: it’s hard to think of a country that needs friends more and has less success winning them than Pakistan. The latest news is that Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of the ISI, flew on a “secret” trip to China. Some have suggested it was less of a trip and more of a summons, as a result of recent Chinese allegations that Pakistani-based terrorists are active in restive western China. As Ishaan Tharoor observes in TIME,
In reality, it’s still unclear what leverage against the U.S. Pakistan can genuinely gain by playing the China card. Beijing’s tendency to conduct its diplomacy quietly and out of view deepens the mystery, but it also obscures what may be a rather tetchy moment between the two neighbors.
Pakistan’s most successful foreign policy venture in recent months appears to be allowing the embattled government of Bahrain to hire Pakistani mercenaries to bolster its security forces. This enraged Iran, but further endeared Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, perhaps the closest friend Islamabad has left.US-Pakistan relations continue to deteriorate, with Pakistan banning free movement of US diplomats in the country; nobody seems to know where all this leads.