The founding father of Pakistan set the contour for foreign policy with the key elements of peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial relations. Article 40 of the constitution elaborated it and showed strong commitment to the principals of peace and mutually beneficial relations. Since its inception, Pakistan’s foreign policy efforts revolve around these principals. However, the strategic location and identity, role or importance in Muslim Ummah are playing key roles in practicing foreign policy. From the very first day of the inception of this country two rival cold war forces, the USSR and the US have showed keen interest to court Pakistan. It has been going on, since the first invitation to the first prime minister of Pakistan, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan by the US and USSR. The prime minister’s visit to the US sowed the first seeds of aligning Pakistan with a western alliance under the leadership of the US. Pakistan signed SEATO and CENTO in 1954 and 1955 respectively. By signing these agreements Pakistan became a full ally of the West. USSR never liked this much and started to forge a partnership with India.Pakistan’s engagement with the US further strengthened due to the irrational behavior of India, the threat of USSR through Afghanistan and challenges in the field of economics and defence. Governor Ghulam Muhammad Khan, at that time was the finance minister of Pakistan, and urged the government to look for financial aid from the US to overcome economic problems of the nascent country. US diplomats and security apparatus were also looking at Pakistan as a strategic partner in the region, to contain communism and to secure oil rich Middle East countries. Mr. Ispahani, Pakistan’s ambassador to US, also worked to highlight the strategic importance of Pakistan in the region. The strategic location was the first entry point for the US and the West to build a relationship with Pakistan.Pakistan should not only rely on strategic location and its identity, it must also explore new ways and avenues in foreign policy. It should strengthen old practices and adopt new dynamics. It must apply the tools of digital diplomacy, economic diplomacy and development diplomacyChina, right after its independence, also recognized the strategic importance of Pakistan. Pakistan also extended a hand of friendship to China. Both countries deepened their friendship over the passage of time. China-India war of 1965, further deepened the relation between the two countries. China’s departure from allying with USSR also contributed to strengthen this relationship. These two incidents highlighted Pakistan’s strategic position and importance in the region for China. Apart from this, China and Pakistan have always enjoyed brotherly relations. The strategic importance of the country is also visible from the criticism on inclusion of Pakistan in the Belt and Route Initiative and the implementation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. These initiatives only reiterate the commitment of both the countries towards each other. Both countries consider each other as time tested friends. President Mr. Xi terms this relation as that of “Iron Brothers”. However, some countries feel that Pakistan is drifting towards China through CPEC and BRI. They are considering it as daunting to their strategic goals or ambitions. Therefore, they are putting efforts to malign CPEC and BRI. Owing to this Pakistan is facing challenges at diplomatic fronts and trying hard to devise a way for peaceful conclusion of this challenge.Strategic location dividend is also visible in the form of an emerging relationship between Pakistan and Russia. Despite the fact that both countries have bitter experiences in the past, but are now working to find new ways of engagement and strengthening relations. Religion is another area which also plays a key role in defining the foreign policy of a country. Pakistan came into existence in the name of religion and the ideology of Islam. From the start, Pakistan has been trying to ally with Muslim countries. The gradual development of Pakistan as a recognized defence and military power give an edge to Pakistan among Muslim countries. Pakistan is also the only atomic power among Muslim countries. All the Muslim countries try to forge cordial relations with Pakistan.The recent episode of Yemen and Syria strengthened this notion. Saudi Arabia and Iran both were trying to win the support of Pakistan. Although Pakistan kept its neutral status intact, still both the countries wanted its support. Disagreement between Qatar and Saudi Arabia again put pressure on Pakistan’s foreign office to solve it amicably. The Turkish and the KSA strife over Khashogji murder again brought pressure on the country’s foreign office, as Pakistan enjoys brotherly relations with both countries.Despite the past behavior of the US and the West, Pakistan again played a frontline role to counter terrorism and the fight in Afghanistan. Pakistan suffered more compared to other countries. However, unfortunately, it is still criticized due to its identity as a Muslim country.The discussion above can be summarized as, both strategic location and identity playing a role to bring in opportunities and challenges for Pakistan. Two prominent examples to elaborate the point are, Afghanistan peace process and struggle of Pakistan to overcome economic crises. Strategically, it has been admitted by all stakeholders that peace in Afghanistan cannot be delivered without the involvement of Pakistan due to its strategic location. On the other hand, Pakistan is also using its identity and strategic location to overcome economic crises. Pakistan has approached and secured good deals from Saudi Arabia, UAE and China. Now, Pakistan is in the process of securing a deal with Qatar.However, challenges are also multidimensional. Pakistan always has to walk on a tightrope. The most prominent examples from recent history are Yemen war, Afghanistan war, the tussle between China and the US, alignment of India with the US, unrealistic ambitions of India in the region, and Iran and the US relations. These challenges always keep Pakistan on its toes and its foreign office has to be alert at all times. Although, some people criticize the performance of the Foreign office of Pakistan, but my analysis shows that their performance is satisfactory in the context of challenges and available resources and international dynamics. The Foreign office has managed to secure its interest where they matter the most. However, the state of Pakistan will to have to strengthen the foreign office through human and financial resources. It is necessary to combat future challenges like the fifth generation warfare, rapidly changing international dynamics and extensive opposition to CPEC. Pakistan should not only rely on strategic location and its identity, it must explore new ways and avenues in foreign policy. It should strengthen old practices and adopt new dynamics. It must apply the tools of digital diplomacy, economic diplomacy and development diplomacy.Published in Daily Times, January 31st 2019.