Globalization in 21st century has transformed politics, economy, defense,social mobility, technology, etc. and its multidimensional impacts can only be dealt with by devising dynamic foreign policy. Relationships with other states and international organizations on the globe are directed by national interests which are ultimate objectives of a wise foreign policy. No one is permanent friend or foe in international relations and that statement can not be equated with a hypocritical approach rather dynamic factors which are not controlled by a single nation becomes actors for change in foreign relations. Realism is the basis to formulate result oriented foreign policy. Geography, economy, public interests, national sentiments, regional or international politics, etc., may be the determinants of a foreign policy. Geopolitical reality of Pakistan always play vital role to constitute contours of its foreign relations. In post independence scenario defense, economy and relations with Muslim world emerged as a priority for us. Now enmity prevailing with India in east, an emerging global player China in the north, fragile Afghanistan in west and complicated Iran in south west makes regional politics complicates for us. Whenever a state is in a volatile situation not only interests rather threats need to be countered. Counter measures can never be designed without having an idea about psyche and interests of opponent parties. Current scenario demands a dynamic foreign policy to protect national interests by analyzing international and regional politics. There are three shells affecting Pakistan’s foreign relations and we need to avoid conflicts during our movement in these shells.
Global scenario took a dramatic turn with US stretched forward policy after dissolution of USSR. US traditionally leads capitalist approach with a democratic face. In 1990s, south American states experienced pink tide, social democratic leaders like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Lula De Silva in Brazil and Evo Morales in Bolivia emerged as charismatic leaders who criticized US policies. Economic crunch in 2008, was a big jolt for capitalist design s of economy and bail out packages rescued the world economies. US intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya represented presence of uni-polar world. Chinese economic miracle earned status of global player but it wisely adopted a foreign policy of regional cooperation by promoting Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Russian strategic ties with China are being perceived a multi polar global politics in near future. It is global shell for Pakistani foreign policy and situation is very complex now. US has close relation ship with Pakistan but we are no more a strategic partner and our role is mostly cling with Afghan issue. US has strategic partnership with India to counter China and for preservation of domination in Indian ocean. Land-lock geography of Afghanistan cannot efface role of Pakistan on the US canvas of Afghan picture. We cannot afford Indian presence on Afghan soil which definitely perturbs situation in FATA and Baluchistan. CPEC is a mega project which may revitalize our economic growth. Remember one thing, US is largest business partner for Pakistan and destiny for our exports. We should concentrate on economic cooperation which will make our penetration in western markets easy. Bilateralism in case of China and US for maintaining our military deference and economic prosperity is need of the hour but it is like a walk on a rope. Our trade deficit with China is enormous and must be balance d because it is decimating our local industry. Only way is trade agreement with China on same footings as ASEAN countries have. Bangladesh has zero duty for it’s garments industry in Chinese market. Export processing zones along CPEC which are only hope for industrial development in Pakistan should be materialized as soon as possible. Normalization of relations with Russia and active participation in SCO will enhance importance of Pakistan in region and Indian influence can be neutralized. Economic gains for country and moral support for Kashmir are two major objectives of Pakistan in international shell of politics.
Second shell where we have to move wisely is relation with other Muslim countries. Arab-Persian tussle is at its height in Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Iran are at daggers drawn due to enervating proxy war in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya. Mutual conflicts have indulged another player, Turkey in politics among Muslim nations. Gulf region is active to reshape it ‘s foreign relations but Qatar is alienated. Israel is normalizing relations with Arab states. Most powerful Arab state, Egypt accepted Israel in 1978 because Henry Kissinger, who was secretary of US during Arab-Israel war of 1973, had the stratagem that in Middle East no big war is possible without Egypt. Richard Nixon said, we can change our friends but not neighbors.
Turkey is emerging as a power in Muslim world but its feud with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states has engendered a new angle of antagonism. Turkey and Malaysia extended their full political and moral support for Pakistan for Kashmir issue. But one thing must be kept in mind, there are almost five million Pakistanis working in Gulf countries who are major source of foreign remittance. Our one fourth imports are related to petroleum industry dependent on Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia. We have to make relationship with gulf states more deep and effective without any interference in proxy war. Our foreign policy needed double edged sword like mechanism to grab economic and political support. Malaysia and Turkey are inspiration for structural reforms in economy which is a lesson to be learnt. Two spheres, education and technology are best option for cooperation with these two states.
Third and last shell for movement of foreign relations is our regional policy. Indian government utilizing Hindutva agenda to attract masses and enmity with Pakistan is tool for it to get public support. Recently , it’s conflict with China in Ladakh may demoralize it. Conditions will become severe in Kashmir soon because Modi government will emphasize on changing the demography of Kashmir to undermine Muslim majority in valley. Israeli model of settlement in West Bank will be an inspiration for them. Afghanistan became a platform for Indian intrigues against Pakistan with US cooperation. Indian national security advisor, Ajit Doval is Pakistan centric and publicly expresses his ambition to destabilize us. Afghanistan need to be engaged with new approach because it is not only our neighbor rather our trade partner with surplus values. Peace and stability in Afghanistan will provide us with an opportunity to grab market there on one hand and access to markets of central Asia on the other hand. Afghans have tribal society where different groups or Afghan intelligentsia decide policies not the institutions. Afghan intelligentsia means different groups should be interacted with frequent mutual visits, seminars, expos, etc. We have to convince them CPEC and trade opportunities for them can overcome their land-lock compulsions. Iran does not have cordial relations with Pakistan after 1979 and India took the advantage of it. Iran need to be convinced that CPEC will be a lucrative deal for them to join China for trade. Iran had cold relationship with Pakistan because of our alliance with US. People to people contacts should be established with Iran to divulge the reality that India is moving towards US camp and Israel is also it’s important ally.
In the nutshell, we can say three shells are encircling our relation with external world and we have to move within them by avoiding clashes and grabbing opportunities. Appropriate foreign policy cannot be formulated without having an idea about psyche of opponents. Prime objectives are economy, defense and socioeconomic development which can only be achieved with realistic and rational approach.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.