Pakistan’s Quest For Regional Peace Amidst Hostile Neighbors – OpEd


Pakistan has consistently pursued a policy of peaceful coexistence towards its South Asian neighbors, aiming to foster a stable and cooperative environment in the region. The country’s efforts to promote peace, improve living standards, and establish stable diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties reflect its commitment to regional harmony. However, the responses from its eastern and western neighbors, India and Afghanistan, have been far from cooperative, demonstrating actions that threaten Pakistan’s national security and regional stability.

Under its peaceful coexistence policy, Islamabad has repeatedly extended offers for dialogue to resolve outstanding disputes with India. Despite these efforts, New Delhi’s stance towards Pakistan has been severe and inflexible. India has consistently linked Pakistan to alleged cross-border terrorism while engaging in extraterritorial and extrajudicial actions within Pakistan. This aggressive posture is further evident in India’s attempts to isolate Pakistan on international platforms like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). A stark example of this hostility occurred in May last year when the Pakistani foreign minister visited India for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit after a 13-year hiatus. The then Indian Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, harshly described the Pakistani FM as a representative of the terror industry, highlighting India’s lack of interest in accommodating Pakistan. This antagonism persisted during the 18th Lok Sabha election campaign in India, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued to project Pakistan as an adversary to galvanize its voter base. Such derogatory rhetoric from Indian leaders reflects a deep-seated reluctance to improve bilateral ties.

The slim hopes that new governments in Islamabad and New Delhi could bring a fresh perspective to India-Pakistan relations have further dimmed. Indian leaders’ repeated threats to annex Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and suggestions of exchanging Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOJK) for Kartarpur indicate diversion tactics. These actions suggest that even if the new government in New Delhi offers an olive branch, it would likely have a contrary underlying intent with a short shelf life. Therefore, Islamabad must practice strategic patience and remain cautious if New Delhi proposes dialogue, particularly on the Kashmir dispute, as such overtures may be deceptive. Many analysts advocate for the resumption of dialogue and trade between India and Pakistan to achieve regional peace. However, India’s persistent tendency to harm Pakistan leaves little room for cooperation. The situation demands that Islamabad adopt a firm stance regarding India until the latter ceases its hostile intentions. A peaceful neighborhood is achievable only through mutually constructive efforts to foster regional stability.

Pakistan faces similar challenges with its western neighbor, Afghanistan, which continues to jeopardize Pakistan’s national security. Despite hosting over four million Afghan refugees for more than four decades and advocating for international recognition of the Taliban government post the U.S. and NATO withdrawal in August 2021, Pakistan’s efforts have been met with hostility. Pakistan, alongside China, has offered Afghanistan connectivity with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and access to the Gwadar Port. However, these gestures have not been reciprocated with cooperation for regional peace and stability. Afghanistan has consistently overlooked Pakistan’s contributions and instead supported terror groups such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Despite Pakistan’s efforts to seek the Afghan government’s cooperation in addressing rising terrorism from Afghanistan—a commitment the Afghan Taliban made during the Doha Dialogue—the interim Taliban regime has failed to curb the offensive actions of Afghan-based terrorist groups. Kabul’s use of these groups as bargaining chips demonstrates a reluctance to work with Pakistan for regional peace.

Even after the surge in terrorism in Pakistan from Afghanistan, Pakistan has kept its border with Afghanistan mostly open. However, the Taliban regime’s inability to control terror group infiltration forced Pakistan to take stringent measures, including closing borders and deporting illegal migrants. Afghanistan’s policies towards Pakistan harm its own people, as Afghan traders, patients, students, and family members face significant hardships due to restricted border crossings. Pakistan has always facilitated these basic needs, and Afghanistan’s antagonistic stance only exacerbates the suffering of its citizens.

Despite Pakistan’s persistent efforts to maintain cooperative relationships with both Kabul and New Delhi, both countries have shown an unwillingness to collaborate with Pakistan. Their actions aim to destabilize Pakistan through various means, including financing, supporting, and training proxies to conduct terrorist activities within Pakistan. These hostile actions necessitate a strict and firm response from Islamabad to any state that seeks to harm it.

While Pakistan should remain open to cooperation in areas of socio-economic development and regional connectivity between East and West Asia and Central Asia, it must not overlook or tolerate any malicious attempts to destabilize the country internally or internationally. The adverse conditions created by its neighbors are detrimental to Pakistan’s internal peace and regional stability. Islamabad must clearly communicate its intent to protect its nation from both traditional and non-traditional security threats posed by these states and their proxies. Additionally, Islamabad must assure an immediate, precise, and effective response to any state that attempts to harm or destabilize Pakistan. A peaceful neighborhood requires collective effort and genuine intentions, not just from Pakistan but from all regional actors. It is not solely Pakistan’s responsibility to ensure regional peace; it necessitates a collaborative approach from all South Asian countries.

In conclusion, Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace and cooperation is evident, but the persistent hostility from its neighbors necessitates a firm and strategic approach. Only through mutual respect and constructive efforts can a peaceful and stable South Asian region be achieved.

Ali Khan Bangash

Ali Khan Bangash is a student of MPhil in International Relations at Quaid Azam University Islamabad.

4 thoughts on “Pakistan’s Quest For Regional Peace Amidst Hostile Neighbors – OpEd

  • June 21, 2024 at 12:05 am

    Terror Factory…what do you expect from peace loving neighbors.

  • June 21, 2024 at 1:38 am

    Let me get this straight. Osama bin laden was kept hidden, the Taliban were nurtured aling with countless terror organizations. An army run country with genetic hatred for democracy and intense jealousy because they oversee a failed state while the 5 th largest economy in the world powers along. The author needs to drink more than tea to wake up. You live in a failed terror state: Try ro focus on getting out of debt first.

  • June 21, 2024 at 8:47 am

    This article is clearly written through the eyes of someone wearing ‘rose colored glasses’. The author slags India for its ‘illegal occupation of Kashmir’, but then goes on to say Pakistan is peace loving toward its neighbors! You can’t threaten someone and then say you are no threat to that someone!

    The Kashmir dispute goes back to partition of The Raj in the late 1940s, and through that entire time Pakistan has never desisted from fostering secessionist movements, some violent, in that region. Pakistan has needled India from the ‘get go’. This is based on the spurious assumption that a Muslim majority region like Kashmir should belong to Pakistan.

    India certainly displays religious intolerances to those who are not of the Hindu faith, but Pakistan takes religious intolerance to an entirely new level. The growth of the religiously intolerant BJP has probably been fueled by Pakistan’s much more extreme religious intolerance toward Hindus. Push leads to pushback!

    If Pakistan stops fostering trouble in India’s backyard, then peace overtures by Pakistan may be taken more seriously. After all, India has far more in common with Pakistan than either Pakistan or India have in common with China.

  • June 24, 2024 at 11:54 am

    This article need not be taken seriously. It is a reflection of the increasing desperation of Pakistan’s rulers to deflect attention away from the crumbling economy at home and blame others for the self-inflicted damage and destruction.
    “Pakistan has consistently pursued a policy of peaceful coexistence towards its South Asian neighbors”
    by consistently exporting cross border terrorism. The chicken has come back to roost.


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