The global strategic environment in 2019 remained polarized due to increased multi-polarity and great power competition between the United States on the one hand, and China, Russia, Iran, North Korea on the other. The past year continued to see instability in conflict prone regions such as South Asia, the Korean peninsula, South China Sea, the Middle East, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. Pakistan faced major external and foreign policy challenges coupled with a struggling economy amid rising inflation. Nevertheless, the most significant event of 2019 was the Pulwama-Balakot Crisis that triggered an attack by the Indian Air Force on Pakistani soil that prompted instant and proportionate Pakistani retaliation through the Pakistan Air Force’s “Operation Swift Retort” that resorted the status-quo-ante and re-enforced the efficacy of Pakistan’s Full Spectrum Deterrence Posture. Pakistan also made strides in facilitating the Afghan peace process that has enabled a political settlement of the war in Afghanistan and possible improvement in US-Pakistan relations. The major highlight of Pakistan’s foreign policy was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Washington D.C. that helped him forge a personal rapport with President Donald Trump. This was a success that mitigate the effects of years of anti-Pakistan narrative and rhetoric within think tanks and key government departments in the United States. Pakistan was also able to thwart Indian efforts of placing Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) blacklist and made considerable improvements in domestic laws and their implementation.
Full report can be read here: https://ciss.org.pk/PDFs/Strategic-Assessment-2019-CISS.pdf