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Foreign Policy Imperatives for Pakistan

 Foreign Policy Imperatives for Pakistan

Pakistan has been in want of a pragmatic and well-articulated foreign policy since 2008. What is more worrying is that the PML-N-led incumbent democratic dispensation displayed an outright reluctance to appoint a competent and astute person as a full-time foreign minister for nearly four years.

Because of Pakistan’s chronic foreign policy crisis, the world is rather unwilling to appreciate the invaluable sacrifices rendered by the country during the course of the costly war on terror. This unfavourable situation has immensely helped India in turning Islamabad’s regional enemies into its friends, and bank on them to clandestinely orchestrate terrorism and insurgency deep inside Pakistan. This can be called a diplomatic masterstroke by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; he has somehow succeeded to isolate Pakistan regionally, and he has made the US stop providing military assistance to Pakistan.

Being a responsible nuclear power with a moderately growing economy, Pakistan pressingly needs to adopt a coherent and robust foreign policy in order to maximise its security and economic interests in the region. If the present leadership further remains indifferent to its external affairs, Pakistan’s regional competitors and foes will find more and more space to systematically isolate and encircle Islamabad in a turbulent South Asia.

In effectively formulating a country’s foreign policy, both military and political leaderships are required to hold extensive deliberations on all possible pros and cons. In Pakistan, however, the military leadership appears to be largely calling the shots with regard to crafting and executing the foreign policy. Resultantly, there has been, to a great extent, a militarised policy, especially with country’s two western neighbours. Such a policy can hardly be reflective of the country’s public opinion — that is oft-disregarded.

There is no denying the fact that domestic policies and developments of a country leave lasting impacts on the timely formulation and execution of its foreign policy. Pakistan’s internal political, socioeconomic and security conditions are rather precarious: the economy is burdened with ever-increasing debt and stagnation; the democratic order is under threat, and the monster of terrorism and militancy continues to haunt the nation. Such obstructive conditions have hindered the leadership from seriously removing the ingrained structural flaws in the country’s foreign policy.

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About Ayaz Ahmed

The writer is a former senior researcher at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), and now an independent researcher and columnist based in Karachi.

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