Pakistan faces a strategic dilemma as it has no role in Biden's alliance-building against China and the US is looking to end its "endless war" in Afghanistan, reported Asia Times

Salman Rafi Sheikh, writing in the Asia Times said that the US geopolitical shift to contain China is evident from the recent first-ever Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) summit-level meeting, which sought to put the US, Japan, India and Australia on the same strategic page.

The virtual meeting is being followed up by an extensive foreign tour by America's military and diplomatic chiefs this week to Japan, South Korea and India, where they will look to affirm US military links and build deterrence vis-à-vis China.

Pakistan has no role in Biden's alliance-building against China. Indeed, the US currently does not have a permanent ambassador in Pakistan as relations plumb their lowest ebb in two decades, or since the beginning of the Afghanistan war, reported Asia Times.

The prospect of an end to the war in Afghanistan and the beginning of a new era of US-China confrontation has created a geopolitical conundrum that Pakistan is struggling to crack.

With Pakistan now seen as a strong economic and military ally of China, the question confronting Pakistani policymakers is: can Pakistan afford to jump on the US anti-China bandwagon and can it manufacture a non-terrorism-related geopolitical reason to revive its ties with the US? Sheikh questioned.

Not only has China invested billions of dollars in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure and related projects in Pakistan, it has also in recent years become the country's top supplier of weapons systems.

With Pakistan and China deepening their strategic ties, the Biden administration's drive against China is a serious predicament whereby Pakistan cannot readily take sides, reported Asia Times.

While Pakistan's economic ties with China have gathered apace, it still maintains import trade links to the US. By taking an overly pro-China policy, Islamabad would risk its trade and still-substantial economic assistance from the US.

Whereas China is now Pakistan's biggest economic partner via the billions invested in CPEC projects, the US is still Pakistan's top destination for exports, which include textile and agricultural products, said Sheikh.

Meanwhile, despite China's multi-billion-dollar investments, Pakistan's economy is still in the doldrums and in persistent need of US-led International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout packages.

The IMF is known to view China's CPEC investments in Pakistan as a debt trap. As such, IMF packages have been linked with requirements of making the CPEC more transparent and open to scrutiny, which in turn has stressed Pakistan-China ties.

Further, Biden looks to build an alliance of "likeminded" democracies against authoritarian China, Islamabad won't easily shift the focus of Pakistan-US relations from security to economics.

The big question confronting Pakistani policymakers is how to maintain trade and economic ties with the US without hurting relations with China.