A read-out issued by the US State Department: “Secretary Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process.”
In a jiffy, Dr. Muhammad Faisal of Pakistan’s FO responded by a tweet: “Pakistan takes exception to the factually incorrect statement issued by the US State Department on today’s phone call between PM Khan and Sec Pompeo. There was no mention at all in the conversation about terrorists operating in Pakistan. This should be immediately corrected.”
What was then? The change of guards in Islamabad was being uncommonly felt in power corridors of Washington. A tremor being sensed in the mansions of diplomatic enclaves where bullying, intimidating and browbeating emanating from whacking Superpower was not only the norm but also the de rigueur curriculum in teeny-weeny ones, say, Pakistan. A drastic change it was indeed.
Pakistan’s FM Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi while addressing a news conference at FO categorically said: “I will say, yes, their (US) press release mentioning terrorists’ operating in Pakistan is contrary to the facts.” He further said: “The impression that has been given in their press release, which mentions terrorists operating in Pakistan, is in contrast with reality. And I say this with full confidence.”
Qureshi said that upon his return to the post of Foreign Minister after seven years, he had observed, that “things have changed.” Quoted to Dawn, “There have been realignments,” he explained. “The world has changed. It is different from what it used to be. Pakistan is no longer the darling of the West.”
“Political and economic centres are shifting eastwards. The world is becoming increasingly multi-polar and is no longer uni-polar…” FM observed.
What does the entire episode depict? Nothing but the new definition of Pakistan’s foreign policy according to which foreign policy is to be based upon raison d’état. Nothing will be concealed from the people of Pakistan. From now onwards, every talk will be on record and in line with right to information: state-to-state concords will be in public knowledge. Foreign policy will be aligned on equal partnership bases with other nations whose corner-stone will aptly be the highest bench-mark of dignity, self-respect and self-esteem.
The change in foreign policy is not just flimsy or unsubstantial. It’s veritably the exalted impression of decorous sovereignty in which retrograde master-slave symbiosis is no more. Gone are the days of “do-more” when Uncle Sam’s stick-and-carrot policy once used to aggravate the national ignominy. It doesn’t mean at all that Pakistan is in war-mongering hysteria with superpower. Nor, like North Korea or Iran, it’s going to nuke the United States as per “Marg Bar Amrica” mantra. No, it’s not. It’s rather a fundamental course correction in Pakistan’s foreign policy. FM Qureshi further said that foreign secretary was also present during the entire phone conversation between PM Khan and Sec Pompeo. It depicts that, unlike the wretched past, not state-to-individual but state-to-state tie-up is the top-most priority. Hitherto, Indian business tycoon Sajjan Jindal used to violate visa for unannounced meeting with Nawaz at the hill resort town of Murree. Pakistan’s foreign secretary was to be pulled out during the meeting of Nawaz and President of the USA. What a ludicrous state of affairs that was!
The US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert’s predicament was evident when she was asked about Pakistan’s call for immediate correction to the readout; Nauert answered that both sides had a “good call.” When inquired by a reporter to kindly read the “terrorist operating in Pakistan” portion, then Nauert politely refused by just saying: “We stand by our read-out.” It also validates the Pakistan’s stance regarding the read-out. Were the words regarding “terrorists operating in Pakistan,” Americans would readily have been playing the audio-recording. It also hints at American past practice by which they were accustomed to surface the multitude of reckless accusations and no one here in Pakistan had a spine to challenge them. Indubitably, it’s one of the reasons behind Pakistan’s growing isolation in international comity in which national narrative eventually bit the dust. How could a country, being castrated by a regular foreign minister for four and a half years, put forth its narrative before the world? How a country, being represented by the PM who cut a sorry figure by reading Parchees—writing pads— before the then President Obama, could be overweening. Out-and-out, a sorry state of affairs made the national account enervated before the global caucus.
Though naïve, at this initial stage, to fore-spell the futuristic course of foreign policy. Yet it is my hunch, under the aegis of Khan qua his premiership, Pakistan will guard her interest and will propagate her peaceful and harmonious narrative vocally before the multinational coterie. Pakistan will reach out some Eastern friends like China and even Russia to augment its narrative. PM Khan’s tweet to stand by Turkey in recent US-Turkish diplomatic spat is also a promising beacon in Islamic world. Last but not the least, Pakistan’s quest for peace with all neighbors indicates how Pakistan is sincere to alleviate poverty from sub-continent. All these are none but an auspicious beginning.