Although foreign policy hardly figures in election campaigns ahead of the July 25 in Pakistan, there are serious challenges that the next government will face on the external front.
Growing estrangement with the United States, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, tension with India and relations with China will be the major foreign policy issues the new government will have to deal with.
The US-Pakistan alliance that emerged after 9/11 seems to have come full circle: The turbulent relations between the two countries have come almost to a breaking point.
The downturn that began following the US Navy Seal raid on Osama bin Laden's house in May 2011 and the air attack on a Pakistani border post that killed more than a dozen soldiers and officers at the end of the same year has not come to an end. It has transformed relations from a strategic alliance to more of a transactional arrangement.
Both civil and military aid from the US was curtailed during former President Barack Obama's second term. Now the residual transactional relationship has also come under strain after sitting President Donald Trump announced his administration's South Asia policy earlier this year and suspended military assistance. Like its predecessors, the Trump administration demands unquestioned cooperation, ignoring Islamabad's interests.
Washington has linked aid to Pakistan taking action against the Afghan Taliban groups operating from its border areas and if it does not get what it wants, it could declare the country a terrorist haven.
Surely such radical moves cannot succeed. Still, they would put greater diplomatic pressure on Islamabad to crack down on suspected militant sanctuaries and take action against the Taliban leadership allegedly operating from Pakistan.
At the same time, the US' leverage over Islamabad has weakened over the years, with Pakistan diversifying its relations with other regional powers particularly its growing strategic partnership with China. Yet a complete breakdown of relations between Washington and Islamabad is not an option.
Dealing with this tense situation will be a very serious challenge to the new Pakistani leadership, almost comparable to what the government faced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.