The foreign policy is an enduring exercise of keeping sentiments of public at utmost priority and build state’s potential to fight national case at international level. To govern effectively, the state institutions should be rational with motivation to design or establish effective principles.
The foreign policy is not about claiming what you are good at, it is about packaging your weakness as potential strength. Foreign policy is not about populism, it is about structural strength of the state to perform in the interest of the state’s populace. In developed states, the structural strength of state’s institution is strong enough that changing of governments and their functionaries doesn’t affect the major contours of governance and policy frame work.
In Pakistan, politicking takes precedence over the policy making to run state’s affairs effectively. Pakistan’s history is replete with the facts where rulers used arbitrary powers to manipulate state’s institutions for their parochial interests. The democracy is not about giving arbitrary powers to executive, but holding delicate balance between state’s institutions and believing on transition of power. In our country, policies had been buttressed to safeguard the myopic interests and to prolong the rules of institutions or politicians-cum-authoritarians. There is a dire need to understand the fact, foreign policies aren’t much focused on reactions. Unfortunately, we had made the foreign policy submissive to some institutions, where it is the delicate process.
The foreign policy means it’s the voice of each portion of society. The bedrock behind our failure in gaining the fruitful foreign policy is just the myopic view of issues of regional and global importance. The policies are result of politicking and had been made to deal with reactions rather than to steer it for long term consistency.
What has made the India to maintain relations between two opposites like I ran – Saudi Arabia and Russia-America? Answer is consistency in political system and trade-oriented policies. No doubt, there is huge support to the opinion America was in search of his predecessor in this region and this uplift the value of India. This view has weight. But, what made it to maintain relations with Arabs, Russia and Iran? Basically, in this world of globalization, there is need to understand that trade, consistency in policies and lobbying work.
The atrocities in Kashmir by Indian forces can become the concern for human right activists but, unfortunately will not alter the foreign policies of world powers toward India. It’s the harsh reality we should acknowledged. What we do from here or lessons from past we should learn? We have viable geographical position, bulge of youth and most important the overseas Pakistanis.
First, the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan can reef some relief from powers who influenced the world’s view. There is need to maintain the constant policy towards Afghanistan i.e. peace and stability at any cost. At the western border, there is huge stakes of Chinese, Russian, Turkey and other countries along with Trump administration. They all want peace some due to trade other for reason of relief.
Sadly, India with its Afghan aides not willing to let peace prevail in region. The obvious reason for this is to keep Pakistan engage on its western side. Pakistan, indeed, would be huge beneficiary if this peace process would flourish. Afghanistan would also flourish financially. There is a need of consistency in foreign policy toward Afghanistan, by engaging the world and highlighting the importance of peace process in the regional progress.
Second is the lobbying which India did effectively in past against Pakistan. India lobbied his stable political system. India portrayed itself as biggest pioneer of democracy which is just stable in transfer of power. Pakistan must hire effective lobbying firms and even send Pakistani nationals to promote the state’s national narrative.
Third, the effective trade-oriented foreign policy is direly needed. Pakistan lacked such perspective because of the reason that no one from top leadership was really interested to pursue this goal. There is a need of stable atmosphere of governance, prevalence of rule of law and assuring or facilitating the returns to foreign investors. For this hurdles have to be removed as promised by PM Imran Khan.
Fourth, the role of the media can’t be underestimated. There is an immediate need that representatives of Pakistan go on international media and represent soft image of Pakistan. The documentaries on Kashmir cause and terrorism that hurts Pakistan more than any country should be publicized with zeal and most importantly with English subtitles.
Fifth and the foremost, consistency towards foreign policy is pivotal to mark the importance at international level. At this stage, Pakistan is not in a position to compromise on internal and regional security issues. Consistent policies, not personalities, with strategic views should be considered.
To conclude, foreign policy is the final outcome of a state’s stance on regional issues, political consistency and the lobbying at international fora. It may be a hard path for Pakistan but surely is productive for its cause. Regional security position and geography of Pakistan can benefit the Pakistan, if far-sighted policies are formed at the earliest. Coping Indian influence at international level with persistence will be a key success factor for PTI’s government, but this would not be an easy goal to achieve. Yet it is possible!