Reassure thy neighbour

Pakistan has recently revisited its foreign policy and has made impactful changes to it. The major one being, easing the visa rules for 66 countries. The second major foreign policy shift is the tilt towards Russia for economic and military agreements, which would have been unimaginable a few years ago, when Pakistan was almost entirely dependent upon US assistance. Up until 1989, speaking about amicable relations with Russia was basically a crime. Another major development that took place in Pakistan is the inauguration of a Russian Language Centre in Lahore.

The composition of international blocs is changing and Pakistan, sensing that it should reduce its dependence on the US and should look for alternative allies, took a big leap towards Russia. It has been a welcome change. Pakistan has also organised the ‘Aman-17’ International Naval exercises with navies of 12 countries in the Arabian Sea against piracy, terrorism and smuggling this week.

At the same time, Pakistan’s former Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is currently heading a military alliance comprising 39 countries, which is meant to counter terrorism.

On the other hand, The US seeks Pakistan’s help for peace in Afghanistan and negotiations with the Taliban. Pakistan is willing to play a positive role for the success of US-Taliban talks.

All seems to be going well, however Balochistan, the largest province in the country which houses the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC), has emerged as a serious issue for internal peace in Pakistan. Deadly terror attacks in neighbouring countries, Iran and India were carried out just ahead of the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s historical visit to Pakistan. The organisations which claimed responsibility for the attacks provided a chance for Iran and India to point fingers at Pakistan.

This week’s suicide attack on Pasdaran-e-Insqalab (Revolutionary Guards) in Iran’s south-eastern province of Sistan, bordering Pakistan’s Balochistan, the second in two months, has proven to be a whistleblower for Pakistan. The attack on the guard’s resulted in 27 casualties and 13 injured. Iran blames international forces, referring to the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, however Jaish al Adl, a terror network, responsible for several attacks in Pakistan and Iran claimed responsibility. Jaish al Adl is an offshoot of Lashkar e Jhangvi and Al-Qaeda, which was formed in Pakistan through terror networks. It follows an anti-Shiite and anti-Iran Agenda.

On Thursday, a local militant of Indian-Occupied Kashmir rammed his explosives-laden car into a bus carrying paramilitary troopers in Lethpora village near Awantipora along a highway in Pulwama district of Kashmir, killing 42 troopers. The incident is dubbed as the worst terror attack in Kashmir in three decades. International media reports that Jaish e Muhammad claimed responsibility of the attack. Pakistan has condemned the attack, despite India’s finger pointing.

Pakistan needs to take concrete steps to assure their neighbours that it has nothing to do with these groups. Pakistan will have to strongly dispel the notion that its territory is a breeding ground for terror networks.

In regards to Iran, Pakistan has to reassure them that agreements with Saudi Arabia will not pose a threat to Iran’s internal peace.

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