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It’s time to take the right turn

The National Security Committee (NSC), the highest civilian-military coordination forum in Pakistan, has resolved to recalibrate the country’s foreign policy, amidst the pressure building up in the context of inclusion of country’s name in grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), followed by the visit of Ms Lisa Curtis, Deputy Assistant to the President and the US National Security Council’s Senior Director for South and Central Asia, to Islamabad. Although the purpose of her visit was clandestine, her meetings with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Ms. Tehmeena Janjua, and Minister for Interior Mr. Ahsan Iqbal were focused by the mainstream media. What exactly Ms. Lisa conveyed to Pakistan has not been made public, yet a US embassy statement shows that she has told Islamabad to take stern action against the Haqqani Network and other terrorist organizations. The message seems to be powerful and coercive enough to make Pakistan’s civil and military leadership agree on one point: Pakistan now needs to revisit and reshape its foreign policy.

What exactly is the foreign policy of Pakistan and what are its real motives and objectives? The answer to the questions is clear in theory but, in practice, Pakistan has never followed a foreign policy based on achieving long-term goals enshrined in it. Many factors contribute to this quagmire, but weaknesses and lacunae within the system of institutions of the country and the imperatives of its geo-strategic location contribute the most.

Internally, Pakistan has been struggling incessantly to find a way out of the political instability caused by a perpetual tug of war between dictators and the political rulers. Both blame each other for this dilemma and the public has remained a silent spectator owing, mainly, to their negligible, and undetermined, role in this context. Elections held by the military regimes could never win legitimacy in the eyes of the public and acceptance on the part of politicians. On the other hand, military establishment puts all the excrement over the undemocratic and egotistical attitude of the politicians, which, at certain times, proves spot on.

The geo-strategic location of Pakistan, which should have been an asset, has too proved to be a liability due to the unremitting challenges from the neighbouring countries, especially India and Afghanistan. To cope with these challenges, military strategies prevailed as the core interest remained the security and stability of the state from the outside world and next-door neighbours.

Nevertheless, with the onset of the 21st century, the dynamics of world politics has changed, and world has transformed from bipolar to a unipolar one; followed by multipolarity, casting a deep shadow on internal and external politics of every nation. The role of state institutions has now revived and all institutions, especially the ones concerning the outside world, have a significant say in formulation of foreign policy. Same is the case with Pakistan at present.

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About Mairajul Hamid Nasri

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The writer is a freelance writer and columnist. He can be reached at:

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