Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Turns a New Leaf

Written By: Dr. Huma Naz Siddiqui Baqai

Pakistan’s foreign policy is a story of constraints and compulsions. The state of Pakistan has remained under tremendous pressures since its inception to make choices that were determined by both existential pressures from outside and within; pressure to its national identity, territorial integrity and independence.

The foreign policy goals identified by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1948 were as under: “Our foreign policy is one of friendliness and goodwill towards the nations of the world. We do not cherish aggressive designs against any country or nation. We believe in the principle of honesty and fair play in national and international dealings and are prepared to make our utmost contributions to the promotion of peace and prosperity among the nation of the world. Pakistan will never be found lacking in extending its material and moral support to the oppressed and suppressed peoples of the world. And in upholding the principles of the United Nations charter.” After sixty plus years Pakistan’s foreign policy seems to be on the track envisioned by Quaid-i-Azam.

Pakistan has been and is India-centric, both the states have invested in the politics of conflict and confrontation but the conduct of Pakistan in the last few years is commendable. Pakistan has emerged as a nation that has acted with responsibility. It has shown its desire to turn a new page in Pak-India relations and when the same was not responded to, has asserted its position as a nation that will not tolerate uncalled-for aggression. A more pertinent step has been its proactive role in improving bilateral relations in the region. The recent interaction between the top leadership of Pakistan and Sri Lanka further consolidated defence and security co-operation. Pakistan’s support to Sri Lanka in the UN Security Council, and UN Human Rights Forum has further strengthened the relationship. Sri Lanka openly acknowledges and appreciates Pakistan’s role in ending the militancy in Sri Lanka. More so, Pakistan-Nepal relations are on a better footing post-Pakistan Army’s assistance to Nepal during the devastating earthquake. However, most importantly, the improved relations with Afghanistan are a real game changer. There is realization of convergence of interest on both sides. Their fates are intertwined is a reality. The two states want to work with because of the changing economic and political realities of the region. This emerging trend must be cultivated and consolidated.

The recent confessional mischief statements made at the Dhaka University by Mr. Modi were also responded to by Pakistan with restraint. This attempt was portrayed by Pakistan as Indian’s desire to sabotage Pakistan’s relations with Bangladesh. Moreover, the international community should take notice of the fact that India which always talks against Pakistan, has made a public admission of helping Mukti Bahini in 1971. The Indian public diplomacy under Modi is indicator of Indian nervousness and its foreign policy failure in the region.

The recent confessional mischief statements made at the Dhaka University by Mr. Modi were also responded to by Pakistan with restraint. This attempt was portrayed by Pakistan as Indian’s desire to sabotage Pakistan’s relations with Bangladesh. Moreover, the international community should take notice of the fact that India which always talks against Pakistan, has made a public admission of helping Mukti Bahini in 1971. The Indian public diplomacy under Modi is indicator of Indian nervousness and its foreign policy failure in the region.

The Chinese investment in Pakistan has further enhanced relations between the two countries. A country that always had to make decisions dictated by its geography and economic compulsions is now, to a certain extent, free of it and may move on to make independent foreign policy decisions. The indicators are already there. Pakistan’s decision to remain out of the Yemen war despite pressures from the Middle Eastern countries and factions supported by them within the country is one of such decisions. Moreover, its new found ability to draw the much needed redlines for the United States in terms of relations with Afghanistan, and also to what extent Pakistan will facilitate US objectives in the region underscores the same fact. Pakistan has reaped the benefits of its geography, but they were largely conflict dividends for which Pakistan later paid a very high cost. For the first time now, the geography of Pakistan may be utilized to reap its real potentials of being a trade and energy corridor, giving Pakistan a relationship with the emerging superpower of the world on a strategic footing.

Pakistan’s relationship with the existing superpower, USA, has always been of a utility partner. It wanes away once the need is fulfilled. Pakistan has swung from being the most sanctioned ally to a front line Non-NATO Ally in the war on terror. The relationship is on somewhat better footing but is of accommodation at best with no strategic convergence whatsoever. Pakistan and US continue to doubt each other inspite of improved public diplomacy. The dividends of this new paradigm shift, where Pakistan is not just talking about looking east but is walking its talk in Pakistan’s foreign policy, should go a long way in allowing Pakistan to achieve the foreign policy objectives identified by its Founding Father and given its due stature in the region which is long overdue.

The writer is a journalist who contributes for print and electronic media.
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1 comment

  • Comment Link Muhammad Ali Anjum Muhammad Ali Anjum 27 July 2015

    Pakistan need to strengthen its political face which is only possible through the great leaders and of course the answer is in negative. So tily than the operation is not started against the corruption the strong results of foreign policy will keep the results same.

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