Diplomacy: A game changer for Pakistan

The last sixteen years have seen an increasing desire on part of the international nations to have their cake and eat it too. The deafening, “with us or against us,” persuasion has exposed a greater part of the world into horrific wars. Consequently, the number of people to have become internally displaced or refugees staggers at 10.1 million, since 2001, according to Brown University’s publication, ‘Cost of War.’

The great world wars, a century ago, had made possible a shift in the rhetoric of the international states: allowing us to be more flexible, gentle and benevolent. Thus a softer image of the powers was sought. And the world seems to have had become a safer place.

But, was it?

Soon, the quiet diplomacy that was deemed as the art of restraining power by Henry Kissinger began posturing signs of stress as the world powers were divided into two camps. Diplomacy became combative and flexed its muscles for global supremacy.

The muse of diplomacy in Pakistan too has changed hands over the time.

In an interview to international media Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s new Foreign minister presented his measure of diplomacy by proffering advice to the United States to change its game in Afghanistan declaring that no solution to Afghanistan could be spelled without Pakistan.

The foreign minister rejected India’s role in the Afghan peace. He reiterated his erstwhile jingoistic stance vis-à-vis India citing his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj’s disparaging address at the United Nation’s General assembly. Sushma had painted Pakistan as a hatchery for terrorist factions while promoting the softer and more humane image of her country.

Asif also avoided commenting on the U.S. president’s statements about Pakistan, rejected the fact that there was spat between Pakistan and the United States, and was absolute in his claim that the two countries would work out their differences.

While some analysts would wish to bring the old school diplomacy back, we have to work with what we have got. Building Pakistan’s image in the world is no easy task. It is important, however, that we do not lose face by frothing retaliation in the international milieu.

Asif’s challenge is the positive, calm and eloquent articulation of what represents the spirit of Pakistan and not a N. Korea-like image that is bent upon annihilation of the rest.

Despite a suspect democratic caliber of the political parties, Pakistan is striding a promising growth rate of 5.7 per cent in 2016, according to World Bank. More children are being enrolled in schools in the previously Islamist-led regions and the rest of the country, and the military operations against the extremist terrorists are bearing results. Pakistan has endured most civil-military casualties than any country in the war against terror, a testament to our commitment to wage out extremist ideology.

Still worryingly, in the recent by-elections in Lahore, right wing Jamaatud Dawa’s Milli Muslim League Party, MML, participated and got 5822 votes. The MML, formed only last month, claimed that it would also contest in the Peshawar election. The election commission, intelligence and the interior ministry are seemingly at loggerheads as to how the party got its registration to contest.

Finally, our foreign ministers candour could charm the world especially if he can manage to align the civil military leadership to ensure that the remnants of the extremists are not allowed to mainstream and are completely wiped out.

While there may be nothing fast or easy about diplomacy we have to capitalize on friends, keeping enemies closer. We still have some friends left in the world.

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