Pakistan’s foreign policy choices


US president Donald Trump’s policy speech on Afghanistan and South Asia has finally provoked Pakistan to reevaluate its foreign policy. The speech urged the country to ‘Do more’,“ demanding from Pakistan, to “demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and peace,” by ridding itself of the terrorist organisations it harbours that create mayhem in the neighbouring Afghanistan.

Sadly the tenor of the dictate embarrassed the nation and its leaders, who were already licking their wounds after being sidelined and snubbed at the Arab Islamic American Summit. Consequently a popular demand rose in the civil and military ranks asking our international allies to acknowledge the country’s significant sacrifices on the war on terror.

United States has been Pakistan’s significant ally. The relationship helped the new emerging nation find its niche in the world. During the cold war the relationship blossomed as both military, government and civil society of the country enjoyed support on the international giant. Simultaneously, Pakistan received substantial aid over the decades, helped US strengthen relationship in the Far East and covertly provided support in proxy initiatives.

A more diversified shift in the foreign objectives had been high on the wish list of the elite leadership in Pakistan as, foreign policy analysts often voiced their disapproval of the national diplomatic reliance primarily on security interests. South Asia has also been a difficult turf to strong regional alliances. SAARC platform bore little fruit for its members. Pakistan maintains strong ties with China But the country though believed in investing in Pakistan wouldn’t provide economic succor. The national diplomatic relationships with Afghanistan, Russia, the Middle East and, India have been bumpy mainly due to security issues.

Pakistan has to realize that the time has come to roll up our sleeves. The country is faced with peculiar political and economic tensions that can best be called confusion. The fact that the PML-N government didn’t designate a foreign minister for the most part of its tenure speaks of its inability to grasp the importance of international alliances.

It is imperative that a clear reimagining of our direction is sought. For the first time in history the civil and military establishment are thinking of a diversified support in the international milieu. The opposite would pull the country deep into international diplomatic isolation.

Khawaja Mohammad Asif, the new Foreign Minister would do well to meet with old and potential international peers. He knows that Pakistan benefits from having friends internationally who could support Pakistan in putting our economy into a gear. However, he would be wise not to disregard BRICS summit declaration and impress upon his government to enhance security in Pakistan by ensuring elimination of any found remnants of any outfits, named in the summit.

The military and government operations of the last few years have been impressive but those alone aren’t enough. More needs to be done.

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