fbpx

A truly independent foreign policy especially for small and medium sized powers is not possible

Pakistan is the only hope for the people living in this country.

Why are we unable to have an independent foreign policy?
In the world of diplomacy, professionals recognise that a truly independent foreign policy especially for small and medium sized powers is not possible.

There are two reasons: first, because of the limited capabilities of the state and second, because of all the events that have taken place. This, in fact, has made the world a global village. Whatever happens in one country has a deep influence not only on the immediate region but also on the world at large.

Moreover, all countries have become inter-connected as well as inter-dependent, therefore, the earlier concept of a sovereign state is now more in terms of a theory rather than in practice.

All countries have become inter-connected as well as inter-dependent; therefore, the earlier concept of a sovereign state is now more in terms of a theory rather than in practice.
Military is still a dominating factor in the formulation of the foreign policy of Pakistan, do you agree?
There is absolutely no doubt that the armed forces of Pakistan have been very active participants occasionally, even the initiator and sometime the enforcer of the national will.

This is more dominant when we have authoritarian military regimes but even when we have elected civilian governments, the armed forces remain in a dominant position.

In fact, this is not only because of the history of Pakistan’ India relations, because of the turbulent region where we live in, but also because of the frequent military interventions that have taken place in Pakistan.

Another reason is the perception in many quarters that it is only the armed forces of Pakistan which can understand the complexities of national security. Only the armed forces have the skill and expertise to formulate a policy that protects the national interests.

Why do we always notice the role of individuals in the making of foreign policy rather than our institutions like National Assembly or Senate?

True, for the very simple reason that the Senate and the National Assembly in Pakistan are more a rarity than regularity. In fact, our politicians spend no time to gain a professional and well-considered position on the issues of national interests. They are either driven by narrow personalised agenda or by inadequate understanding of what is really right or wrong for the country.

Finally, because many of them feel rather than getting interested in the intricacies of foreign policy, they should devote their time and energy to domestic wheeling and dealing at which they are far more skilled.

True, for the very simple reason that the Senate and the National Assembly in Pakistan are more a rarity than regularity. In fact, our politicians spend no time to gain a professional and well-considered position on the issues of national interests.
Economic determinants are the driving principles of the foreign policies of major superpowers like the US, China, India, etc. But why is our foreign policy so much passive towards the economic objectives instead we remained ideology centric?
It is very true but each country is reflecting its own history.

In fact, Pakistan’s turbulent historic past, its traumatic birth and conflict-ridden history of relations with India have all combined to create a syndrome that political scientists call a ‘national security’ syndrome. Wherein the ideology of the state and the factors which account the country’s independence and sovereignty have dominated the debate.

Furthermore, in any case please remember that it is a wrong perception that economics alone drives the foreign policy agenda of the US, China or India.

Actually, these two are closely inter-linked, so they should not be seen in isolation because a state cannot have one without the other. In fact, they re-inforce and help each other.

Therefore, what is required in Pakistan is a judicious mixture of these two economics plus ideology without exclusively coming into play.

Media has emerged in the modern age as an instrument of foreign policy to serve its objectives but what do you think about our media?

The media has been a victim of state apparatus too and has been a prey for the persecutions carried out by governments, both civilians and non-civilians, elected or non-elected.

In fact, this is true of all Third World or developing countries where the governments have sought to manipulate the media because an independent media is a thorn in the sides of inefficient political leaders.

Even in the thorn of anyone who is not honest or is not oriented towards protecting and defending the national interests. Similarly, in the case of Pakistan it is much more so because the reason I told you i.e. non-elected interventions in the country.

Happily, the situation has changed fortunately. Now, we have an elected representative government, even with its failures we should be thankful to Almighty God that Pakistan has once again an elected government.

We should never confuse the failures and shortcomings of an elected government with the shortcomings of a democratic system. The fact, that today we have a vibrant media even though there are many shortcomings and failures. Nevertheless, we should consider it a blessing and should continue to promote a truly independent media. Surely, over the passage of time media will also gain maturity and a better understanding of what is right or wrong for the country.

Relations with the Muslim countries are the important pillar of our foreign policy, but at the same time our two neighbouring Islamic countries’ Iran and Afghanistan ‘remain uncomfortable with us, why?  

No doubt, Islam is a strong bond that has always played an important role in Pakistan’s domestic policies as well as its foreign policy orientations, but Islam alone cannot be a factor to determine our relations with a foreign power. In fact, in the final analysis it’s our national interests that take precedence over all other factors.

Furthermore, in the case of Afghanistan, especially we have difficult relations from the day one and it has a long history. Happily, relations are improving and there is a greater understanding between Kabul and Islamabad. The need of the hour is that we should strengthen our relations with Kabul. Afghanistan’s strategic location can be a great assistance for us and we should make endeavours to have best relations with Afghanistan.

Moreover, relations with Iran have remained cordial and cooperative. In fact, Iran has stood by us during difficult times and we should make endeavours to build truly strong and close relations with Iran because they have advantage for both the countries.

In fact, Pakistan’s turbulent historic past, its traumatic birth and conflict-ridden history of relations with India have all combined to create a syndrome that political scientists call a ‘national security’ syndrome.
What would you say about the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan?
This composite dialogue has a history that goes back to 1996 or 1997 when we both’ the elected governments in Islamabad and New Dehli’ agreed with a package approach to the solution of differences, which we have placed in one basket .

An agreed common approach was adopted by two sides. While these talks could not lead to equal and simultaneous progress, but all issues needed to be tackled at the same time.

Moreover, both countries remained committed to this process till November 2008 when Mumbai attacks took place. After this the Indians said that they were going to impose a pause on the dialogue process. Later, the dialogues were resumed but Indians were reluctant to go back to the same format on which both countries agreed.

The reason is very simple that if you have the composite dialogue process then you are not only discussing the exchange of cricket teams or mere cultural exchange but also discussing the core issues ‘Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, etc.

So, it is extremely essential for Pakistan to ensure that dialogue is resumed on the basis of agreed ‘format to which both countries committed. Otherwise, India has stated publicly that it will focus on terrorism and Pakistan will stress on Kashmir and the talks will remain inconclusive, leading to no progress.

Do you think that Pakistan and Iran will be able to complete ‘Peace Pipeline’ by opposing the US interests in the region?

Pakistan is in desperate need of energy. So, it has worked on many options and one of the best options, economically and technically, is the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline commonly, known as ‘Peace Pipeline.

In fact, all experts are convinced that it is the only viable option for Pakistan to get or obtain a secure and reliable source of energy.

Regrettably, the project is not making progress because of the American political opposition. But I am sure that if Pakistan continues to pressing America to look at the issue in terms of meeting Pakistan’s desperate energy requirements, rather than in the context of US-Iran bilateral differences.

Any message

Pakistan is the only hope for the people living in this country. So, I will urge the youth that they should remain committed to the country despite all its failures and shortcomings.

This is the culmination of the dream of the Muslims of the subcontinent; you owe it to your fathers and grand fathers and to keep up the pledge that they had made. Pakistan Zindabad!

By: Tariq Fatemi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *