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Since its creation in 1947, Pakistan has seen itself as a client state, rather than as a genuine partner. Most of its major decisions are built upon the convergence of interests with bigger states, and these invariably entail severe dependencies.

Pakistan is a prominent member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and an active member of the United Nations. Its foreign policy encompasses historically difficult relations with India, a desire for a stable Afghanistan, long-standing close relations with China, extensive security and economic interests in the Persian Gulf, and wide-ranging bilateral relations with the United States and other Western countries.

After September 11, 2001, Pakistan's prominence in the international community increased significantly, as it pledged its alliance with the U.S. in counterterrorism efforts and made a commitment to eliminate terrorist camps on its territory. Historically, Pakistan has had difficult and volatile relations with India, long-standing close relations with China, extensive security and economic interests in the Persian Gulf, and wide-ranging bilateral relations with the United States and other Western countries. It expresses a strong desire for a stable Afghanistan.

Pakistans primary foreign policy objectives are protection from external threats and the preservation of territorial integrity. Foreign alliances often have been based on mutualand sometimes ephemeralstrategic interests. Contentious relations with India dominate foreign relations and are largely due to perennial tensions over Kashmir, which was the basis of wars in 1948, 1965, 1971, and 1999. Various talks in 20035 have eased tensions but not mutual suspicions.

China has perhaps been Pakistans most consistent ally because of shared antipathies of other countries, such as India and Russia, but in the 1990s China assumed a more distant relationship as a result of Indias growing military prowess, Russias military decline, and other factors. However, China is alleged to have supplied Pakistan with nuclear weapons material, ostensibly to counter Indias nuclear weapons. Relations with Afghanistan have been harmonious and tense, often simultaneously. The two countries have a disputed border, but Pakistan supported insurgents in Afghanistan against Soviet occupation in the 1980s and was a key ally of the Taliban in the 1990s. Since their 1971 war, Pakistan and Bangladesh typically have had close ties based largely on shared opposition to India.

Under military leader Ayub Khan, Pakistan sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union; trade and cultural exchanges between the two countries increased between 1966 and 1971. However, Soviet criticism of Pakistan's position in the 1971 war with India weakened bilateral relations, and many Pakistanis believed that the August 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Peace and Cooperation encouraged Indian belligerency. Subsequent Soviet arms sales to India, amounting to billions of dollars on concessional terms, reinforced this argument.

During the 1980s, tensions increased between the Soviet Union and Pakistan because of the latter's key role in helping to organize political and material support for the Afghan rebel forces. The withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan and the collapse of the former Soviet Union resulted in significantly improved bilateral relations, but Pakistan's support for and recognition of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan is an ongoing source of tension.

Historically, Pakistan has had close geopolitical and cultural-religious linkages with Iran. However, strains in the relationship appeared following the Iranian revolution. Pakistan and Iran supported different factions in the Afghan conflict. Also, some Pakistanis suspect Iranian Government support for the sectarian violence that has plagued Pakistan. However, relations between the countries have improved since their policies toward Afghanistan have converged with the fall of the Taliban. Both countries contend that they are on the road to strong and lasting friendly relations. Pakistan has also provided military personnel to strengthen Gulf-state defenses and to reinforce its own security interests in the area.

By 2011 Pakistan and Iran wanted to boost trade to $10 billion a year. But to do that, they need to improve road, rail and air links. Its really interesting - a country of about 175 million in Pakistan and country of 75 million in Iran had a trade volume of about a billion dollars a year. That is less than what Iran trades with Afghanistan, a country that is significantly smaller than Pakistan. Pakistan is in desperate need of energy. Persistent blackouts are a constant concern. Iranian and Pakistani officials agreed to speed up construction of a natural gas pipeline despite objections from the United States.

For countries outside South Asia and the Middle East, relations generally are based on Pakistans perceived strategic value in the international system. Pakistans successful nuclear tests in 1998 initially led to international sanctions that were later eased as a result of concerns that an economically weakened Pakistan might provide nuclear material to other nations.

Estimates of the size of Pakistans external debt vary by source. However, observers generally believe that the combination of poor tax administration, high government expenditures, and heavy dependence on external funds has resulted in massive fiscal deficits that, at times, have nearly crippled the economy and rendered Pakistan one of the worlds most indebted countries. When the United States and international lending agencies imposed sanctions after Pakistans 1998 nuclear tests, the country was close to defaulting on external obligations. According to the World Bank and the State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistans total external debt was approximately US$3.4 billion in 1970, US$9.9 billion in 1980, US$20.6 billion in 1990, and US$36.1 billion in 2003 (about 52.6 percent of the gross domestic product).




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