In the last decade, no serious efforts were made by the political elite to strengthen the country and its essential organizations and institutions. No foreign country would have been able to use economic leverage or diplomatic coercion against Pakistan if the successive governments during the last 14 years had worked on self-reliance and self-sufficiency. It is our own making that we find ourselves in this predicament. Instead of pursuing an approach of national integration to build the economy and improve financial stability, we unfortunately remain rather indulged in blame game for a political power surge. Pakistan’s foreign policy has also become the casualty of a raging domestic politics.
Indubitably, the US and the EU are major export markets and thus a source of forex for the country. China, under the CPEC, has invested in the country at a critical time. The Saudis have traditionally supported Pakistani economy through concessional oil supply and deferred payments. Pakistani traditional and longstanding relations with these countries must not be jeopardized due to domestic political disputes. The economic diplomacy of Pakistan and the vision of becoming a connectivity and tourism hub is incumbent upon Pakistan being viewed as a peaceful, friendly, and open destination.
Foreign policy decisions are always in line with national interest of the country and not steered by the emotions or domestic political narratives. We can take the example of foreign countries like Turkey. Despite the alleged coup attempt by US, Turkey continues to pursue defence production with US and Western countries. Turkey also continues to abide by its diplomatic understandings with US and Israel despite popular domestic public sentiment as well as Global Muslim sentiment being against these countries. Turkey has also denied sale of military equipment to Pakistan as well on behest of US.
Independent foreign policy rests on the country’s economic independence and inherent economic and governance strength. Chronic dependence on bailouts, loans, and economic largesse from abroad for which governments have to seek perpetual help from other countries is hardly consistent with an independent foreign policy. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, no political party focused on revenue generation in Pakistan and relied on borrowing for unsustainable development and social support projects, thus we were not able to break this begging cycle.
Till the time we do not strengthen ourselves and put up a united front, our competitors and enemies will continue to exploit our weaknesses. We can choose to call that foreign conspiracy as well. But we need to understand that such things only happen when we are divided and polarized. Indulging in blame game and crying hoarse about it will not solve the issue. The only way we can fight out these challenges is when we sit together, overcome the differences, and adopt a unified approach to tackle the abysmal economy and weak governance that surrounds Pakistan and concerns all Pakistanis beyond the rhetoric of mundane politics.
About Author: Humais Sheikh is an Independent Defense Analyst from Islamabad. He has completed his Masters in Defense and Strategic from Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad.