Post-crisis global realities.

Byline: Maleeha Lodhi

THE future holds much uncertainty with an unfolding health crisis convulsing the world. But the reality that will continue to shape the post-pandemic world is this. While unprecedented global cooperation and a collective response will be needed to negotiate multiple challenges - threats to public health, economic recovery, food security, looming recession and unemployment - many countries will tend to turn inwards and act on their own. This paradox did not emerge during the pandemic. It has been evident in recent years but thrown into sharper relief by the Covid-19 crisis.

The world is in fact passing through one of history's most unsettled periods with a number of trends reconfiguring the international landscape: retreat from multilateralism at a time of multipolarity, anti-globalisation sentiment, erosion of a rules-based international order, trade and technology wars between big powers and the rise of populist leaders who reject internationalism, pursue ultra-nationalist policies and act unilaterally.

This backdrop hardly prepared the world for what was to come when the deadly virus defied national boundaries and crossed continents in its remorseless spread. The ongoing crisis showed how interconnected and interdependent the world is and that no country can deal with the challenge on its own. But it also exposed the deep divisions between and within countries as they struggled to confront the havoc wrought by an unforgiving enemy.

Logic and pragmatism dictated international cooperation. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres put it: 'To prevail against the pandemic today, we will need heightened solidarity.' But is this what we are witnessing? The short answer is, not really, because more disharmony than 'solidarity' has been on display.

Obviously, countries had, first and foremost, to focus on their own health emergency. But their effoArts to contain Covid-19 would have benefited from collaboration on travel and trade restrictions, bordAAeAAAr closures and sharing of virus data and information.

Geopolitics, not solidarity, holds sway.

It was the unseemly row that broke out during the pandemic between the two global powers, the US and China - who have the world's most consequential relationship - that served to underline how geopolitics, not solidarity, remained the overarching reality.

The latest tussle came against the backdrop of intense trade and political tensions between the two countries. The trigger was...

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