Pakistan’s foreign policy has always stood flawed for decades but at no time it has been more apparent than in 2022 under Pakistan’s present PM Imran Khan. Foreign policy is not a cricket pitch where heightened aggressiveness and fast googlies ensures defeat of an adversary by toppling wickets. Regrettably, PM Imran Khan has not outgrown his Pakistan’s cricket captaincy.
PM Imran Khan decidedly started his tenure with a wrong footing against the United States, an overboard prime ministerial tilt towards China, an arrogant demanding posture against India and an ill-advised initiative to form an Islamic Bloc of Pakistan-Turkey-Malaysia to counter Arab dominance of Islamic world. All of these foreign policy directions of PM Imran Khan led Pakistan nowhere in terms of Pakistan’s national security and economic security.
Pakistan’s foreign policy under PM Imran Khan is endangered in 2022 with the two major determinants of a nation’s foreign policy, namely, national security and economic security not on sound footings. Pakistan’s national security and economic security were hithertofore been underwritten by United States, chiefly because of the Afghanistan factor.
The American exit from Afghanistan and United States belatedly realising Pakistan Army’s perfidious role in Afghanistan against the United States leaves no scope for a return of US munificence to Pakistan.
Pakistan PM Imran’ Khan’s and his Foreign Minister’s utterances on Afghanistan and intense Pak-China coordination on Afghanistan to bring a Taliban Government in Kabul would have been noted by Washington. Further noted by Washington would have been insistence of PM Imran Khan to retain the previous ISI Chief, even against the Pakistan Army Chief’s wishes who had been architect of Pakistan’s Kabul policy of PM Imran Khan.
While some may have been legacy issues but PM Imran Khan with a massive mandate ensured by Pakistan Army could have at least ensured Pakistan’s economic security and added substance to his election promise of a ‘New Pakistan’.
Pakistan’s economic security cannot be financially underwritten by Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s preferred strategic patron—China. Despite PM Imran Khan cavorting with Chinese Embassy during his election campaign and PM Imran Khan’s rush to Beijing soon after he became Prime Minister, the levels of Chinese financial bailouts for Pakistan did not materialise.
It was on China’s perceived strengths and support for Pakistan that PM Imran Khan arrogantly dismissed any chances of Pakistan going to IMF for financial bailouts. In no time PM Imran Khan retraced his steps and Pakistan had to go with a begging bowl to IMF to forestall Pakistan’s economic insolvency.
PM Imran Khan and preceding Pakistani PMs gambled heavy on China’s commitments to transform the economic landscape of Pakistan through the highly publicised China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistan stands used by China through the CPEC.
China’s strategic and economic landscape in last three years has been changed by China’s exploitation of the CPEC for its own strategic ends, only. CPEC has sin fact muddied Pakistan’s security and economic landscape with Pakistan headed to a dismal fall in China’s debt- trap.
Pakistan so falling into China’s debt-trap would end up with an enhanced security and strategic bondage to China’s Grand Strategy strategic blueprint in which the core aim is to challenge United States global predominance.
Therein lies the other big flaw of Pakistan’s foreign policy directions in 2022 and that is endangering the security of Pakistan by moving decidedly into China’s strategic orbit.
PM Imran Khan’s gamble on Afghanistan along with China has also not paid off. With Afghanistan headed towards humanitarian disaster which cannot be ameliorated without US and West’s assistance, Afghanistan is headed towards grave instability. This will seriously impact on Pakistan’s security and stability.
The United States and China in 2022 are in clashing power trajectories and Pakistan gravely risks collateral damage to Pakistan’s security and stability because of its ‘China Connection’.
PM Imran Khan cannot absolve himself on the plea that Pakistan Army controls Pakistan’s foreign policy and tangentially its economic directions too.
Pakistan’s Prime Ministers in the past like PM Nawaz Sharif had attempted to change the above Pakistani narrative by pleading better political and economic relations with India and the West would be good for Pakistan’s economic security.
Pakistan’s new National Security Policy 2022 also emphasises that Comprehensive National Security incorporating economic security is an imperative. But regrettably official sources quoted within Pakistan indicate that P Imran Khan has asserted that better relations with India cannot be undertaken with Modi Government in New Delhi.
Herein lay Pakistan’s foreign policy fatal flaws in 2022. Pakistan is ill-served in 2022 both by PM Imran Khan and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi.
PM Imran Khan is bereft of both political and strategic vision and lack of governance experience. A good Pakistani Foreign Minister at such a stage would have rendered sound advice to his Prime Minister as to the right directions in which Pakistan must steer itself revise its foreign policy templates on Pakistan’s national security and economic security.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi is perceptionaly regarded as a very arrogant, ambitious and flamboyant personality. The Pakistani Foreign Minister views himself as the rightful choice to be Pakistan’s Prime Minister. Towards that end, he not only chose to switch his political allegiance from Bhutto’s PPP to Imran Khan’s PTI but also subdued his ambitions temporarily to surface when PM Imran Khan critically falls from political favour of Pakistan Army.
With PM Imran Khan increasingly becoming a political liability for the Pakistan Army, it would not be long that the Army finds another alternative to PM Imran Khan.
Concluding, the overall picture remains dismal where Pakistan foreign policy positive directions are concerned in terms of Pakistan’s national security and economic security. Pakistan’s China-baggage will increasingly become a dead-weight millstone around Pakistan’s future.