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Ijaz Khan: The Emerging Post, Post-Cold War World Order


Dr. Ijaz Khan is currently working as a visiting faculty at School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR). He taught at the Department of IR, University of Peshawar, since 1988 till his retirement as Professor and Chairman of the Department in July 2017. Ijaz Khan has done his masters from London and PhD from Peshawar. He is an internationally published researcher with more than twenty publications, both national and international.



His latest contribution is a book titled’ “Pakistan’s Strategic Culture and Foreign Policy Making: A Study of Pakistan’s Post 9/11 Afghan Policy Change” published by Nova Science Publishers, New York. He has also contributed a chapter on ‘Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’ to an edited volume 'Pakistan’s history', published by Oxford University Press. Ijaz Khan is frequently invited to International Conferences and Seminars. Dr. Khan is also active in Civil Society sector by contributing through lectures at various forums on Democracy, Human Rights and Peace, thus helping filling the gap between real life and academic pursuits. He is also a member of a number of International and National professional and related bodies. He is member of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), is on board of a number of academic institutions and also member Executive Council of Asian Politics and International Studies Association (APISA), an association that brings together academicians from around the world, looking at their subject from an Asian perspective.


The Emerging Post, Post-Cold War World Order: Bipolar, Multipolar, Anarchic or Pluralist?


Based on the article The Emerging Post, Post-Cold War World Order: Bipolar, Multipolar, Anarchic or Pluralist published by Dr. Khan, SPCIS has interviewed him to understand how Pakistan might react in the evolving multipolar landscape as well as how it might navigate in the complexities of the new global order. Also, SPCIS asked him to shared his views on whether China has the intention in the competition for global leadership in the context. The following is Dr. Khan’s answer.


The current emerging is increasingly becoming a world with no clear poles, neither two nor more than two. It can be described as complex multipolarity, Plural or as Dr. Amitav Acharya called it Multiplex. Simply it means relationships will overlap, rather than states aligning with one or other bloc. On one issue we are noting a grouping of states and on another issue we see another grouping. These groups are not exclusive as many states may be part of one group of states on one issue and of another on another question. China playing the role of arbiter between Iran and Saudi Arabia does not mean, Saudi Arabia is no closer to USA. Saudi Arabia also has become part of a proposed India, Middle East, Europe Corridor, viewed by many as alternate or even rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

While this may provide opportunities for third states, this also poses challenges. Those states with relatively stable economic and political conditions are better poised to get advantage of this complexity, however those that are wanting in these areas will find themselves more amenable to contradicting pressures. Complex Multipolarity does not mean absence of competition between states. Different powerful states do exert pressures to pull states away from the other side. Pakistan with a very weak economy and increasing political uncertainty finds it difficult to take advantage of it. Nikei Asia reported, China has refused to invest in any new projects in Pakistan as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of BRI, partly due to security concerns arising out of Pakistan’s political uncertainty, polarization and increasing terrorism. The USA also has lost interest in Pakistan post withdrawal from Afghanistan. The very harsh terms for IMF loan are seen in Pakistan as not being helped enough by USA. This does not mean, Pakistan cannot take advantage of the new International Relations, however has to start by addressing internal political stability and also accept, at least for the time being, its weak position and plan long term. Pakistan has to make a fundamental change in finding security in economy, rather than finding economy in security. As Pakistan since its very beginning has found economic health by being played against someone, whether it was against Soviet Union during the Cold War or Taliban in the post 9/11 two decades.


I (Dr.Khan) understand the dispute between China and USA is essentially economic, dictated by the requirements of free market economics. Even two or three small shop owners are put in competition to get maximum of the village market. China till 2010 was just a potential competitor. However, since then it has increased its economic presence more strongly the world over. Political influence follows economic influence. We need to understand, the Chinese style of diplomacy, which is different than that of United States. Chinese stay low key and consistent, planning long term. China has stayed out of any direct physical or political role, specially in far away regions. In addition to its style, more active role was required by its economic interests or was affordable by its economy. As its economy has grown, so has its interests and capability. It’s heavy international investment needs concerns for its security as much stronger, thus pushes for it to be more active. This conflicts with US already present there. Chinese role in Iran – Saudi reproachment is a very visible example of that active role. That role has altered the Saudi status as of being in exclusive US camp, but has not become Chinese ally either, as it continues to have very vital relations with USA, showing the emergence of complex multipolarity, in which China sees more space for it.


As Chinese investments grow, China will be pulled into militarily securing them along with its diplomatic role. That will further alarm US leading to increased US China rivalry in global political economy. Such developments are however not leading to the return to some type of the Cold War rivalry between US and Soviet Union. Though the Soviet challenge also essentially challenged capitalist system, not because it was dominated by the USA/West, but because it wanted to replace the whole capitalist system along with its political system. Chinese challenge is not against the capitalism or free market, but having more space in it. That more space has to be at the expense of US/ western space, thus conflict and competition.


There are no pure politics or pure economics. One always influences the other. While the the US China conflict is essentially about economics, it does influence their political relations and at times use political language, leading some to argue they are becoming two opposing poles. Their competition, not being on the fundamentals of the economy, it is not a zero-sum conflict, like US – Soviet was. The probability of them finding mechanism for regulating as different than ending their competition are stronger than them failing to. Their competition cannot end, their conflict can.


Contact: Dr. Ali

Interview: Pan Zhixiang

Editor: Sun Zhishan


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