“Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us” are the words of the 35th President of the U.S. John F. Kennedy. This statement highlights the significance of the foreign policy of any country in the context of the international relations. And along with that, this above mentioned statement also needs to be taken in amalgamation with the complex and intricate nexus of domestic and foreign policy which varies with each state depending on their respective national interests. Pakistan’s foreign policy has been more of regional centric and dependency on great powers particularly the U.S. and China
Pakistan’s foreign policy under the current government of Imran Khan is quite clearer than it had been in the past regimes. The main focus has been on steering the relationship between Pakistan and its neighboring states along with the revived stature of Pakistan in the international realm. Pakistan has reinvigorated its stance against India and its illegal revocation of Article 370 and 35-A of Indian constitution. Indian P.M Narendra Modi has made a failed attempt to alter the status of Kashmir. Pakistan has strongly countered the false Indian propaganda of state sponsored terrorism by Pakistan. Imran Khan’s speech diplomacy had had a greater effect in the United Nations general assembly and international community at large.
On the other hand Pakistan is at the forefront of the ‘Peace talks’ between the Afghan Taliban and United States and its role has been appreciated by former U.S. president Donald Trump. Pakistan’s relationship with China has reached new heights after the initiation of the second phase of CPEC. Pakistan has offered mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran and wants to see both the nations working towards regional peace, stability and prosperity.
Challenges for Pakistan
Pakistan is faced with multiple challenges at the foreign and domestic front; some of them (foreign) are the following.
- Keeping Kashmir issue at the agenda of the United Nations and neutrializing Indian threat of false flag operation in Pakistan
- Indian immense propaganda in Afghanistan to foment anti-Pakistan sentiments among youth requires more people to people relations for allaying anti-Pakistani sentiments.
- Iran has long been under U.S. sanctions and having better history of economic ties with Iran under Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD)1964 leaves space for economic reengagement.
- Pakistan’s relations with Organization of Islamic Conference are sapless and require economic cooperation that may open doors for further strategic cooperation.
- Pakistan needs to maintain balance between China and U.S. relationship but preference naturally goes to immediate neighbor .
- Pakistan lags behind in space technology that India is eying for to achieve supremacy. India’s supremacy in space will add up it its sea, land and air capability as well. Pakistan needs to invest much in space and cooperation with China for keeping the balance with India.
- Pakistani diasporas can play a vital role to promote Pakistan’s narrative to other countries and also counter Indian lobby i.e. America-India Public Affairs Committee
- Pakistan should reach out to other Islamic countries for investment in Pakistan as completion of CPEC will open new avenues of economic opportunities in Pakistan
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Security Moeed Yusuf has recently said that Pakistan needs to tell the world about its narrative of promoting economic security, regional connectivity and peace.
The most important thing to analyze is the emphasis on economic security that was not visible in the foreign policy directions of Pakistan before. Mr.Moeed said that Islamabad was asking the world, including China and the US, to invest in Pakistan and become partners. As Pakistan is the world’s sixth largest population and offers attractive market to investors.
Pakistan needs to focus on manufacturing and exports that will uplift Pakistan’s stature in regional and global affairs.
India has been proactive to malign Pakistan in international community through massive propaganda campaigns that recently has been uncovered by the EU DisinfoLab terming this massive propaganda as “Indian Chronicles”. India made propaganda on various international levels including European countries and international forums. India’s fifth generation war against Pakistan dented Pakistan’s image that despite making unrelenting efforts against countering money laundering and terror financing has not made any satisfactory policies towards Pakistan. Pakistan still is in the grey-list and India has been struggling to push Pakistan into blacklist to strangle Pakistan’s economy. It can be expected that after the exposed network of organized false propaganda against, there should be a policy shift in western nations towards Pakistan.
Pakistan’s current government has been successful in saving lives of numerous of Pakistanis by ensuring adherence to government guidelines against covid-19. Pakistan’s approach has been lauded in various countries.
Global dynamics are undergoing shift due to covid-19 and other extra-regional circumstances.UAE and Bahrain have recognized Israel, Morocco have partly recognized and there is a new politics among Islamic countries that they are getting more closer to Israel than Pakistan.UAE has banned work visas for Pakistanis and Saudi Arabia has deported more than 285,000 Pakistanis which is alarming for Pakistan’s economic indicators.
Pakistan’s strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia needs renewed engagement and enhanced cooperation in the areas of security and economy.
A normalized, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan as well as regional stability. Pakistan’s defence cooperation with Russia can help maintaining the balance of power with India in conventional arms. To mitigate tensions with Modi government, Pakistan should keep international community alerted of Modi’s misadventures that he might plan a similar to so-called surgical strike of 27 February 2019.
Foreign policies of those countries are said to be more successful who make more friends and lessen enemies and invest more in knowledge economy, steer towards research and development goals. It can be hoped that Joe Biden (President-Elect) of the U.S. will maintain a balanced approach towards South Asia while dealing with Pakistan and India to maintain South Asia’s balance of power.
* Dr Musarat Amin is a strategic security analyst and the views expressed in this article are her own and do not purport or reflect the opinion of her organization. She can be reached at [email protected]