By: Engr Najib Wazir
A huge fortune always requires greater vigilance, will and power to own it. This exactly is the case with Pakistan that has a stunning geo-strategic position and is also a nuclear weapons state but due to its flawed foreign policy, it has witnessed the dwindling of its leverage in the arena of international affairs and regretfully, the trend is still pervasive.
Foreign policy of Pakistan is on a shaky ground as the margins it had in Kashmir and Afghanistan have shrunk and its relations with world’s superpowers, barring China, have been deteriorating over the years. Owing to shrewd diplomacy of its eastern neighbour and the arch-rival i.e. India, Pakistan has suffered a lot as foreign office was left high and dry as due to the absence of a full-time foreign minister for nearly four years, it lacked the leadership at the top. In addition, the unending tussle for more power inside the lower circle of ministry better depicts the faded commitment of state towards the foreign affairs. This all happened in this 21st century when nations are exploiting their strategic locations and economic and military prowess to bolster their stature in the comity of nations.
Donald Trump’s new South Asia policy has upped the ante in the region and it is likely to press Pakistan beyond limits as its accomplishments in antiterrorism operations e.g. Zarb-e-Azb, will be disregarded and reservations over RAW’s infiltration in Balochistan from its safe havens in eastern Afghanistan will remain unaddressed. Despite acknowledging our capacity to play a decisive role in the Afghan conflict every now and then, Washington will still place us on the back-benches due to our inability to grab our own opportunities. This vividly exhibits as to how far our diplomacy has been ‘successful’ in influencing those in Washington’s power corridors.
Pakistan should have carved out a robust, comprehensive policy to address the White House. Zarb-e-Azb is one of the most significant achievements of Pak Army because it has come at a time when NATO alliance has failed miserably to win the war in Afghanistan. Instead of begging merely for international recognition, Pakistan should effectively embed this success in its foreign policy discourse, along with the facts and figures on improved security situation, economic growth and surge in tourism in the country. Pakistan should have also advocated, wisely and boldly, the Kashmir issue but the slackness in doing so offered India an opportunity to malign the Kashmiri freedom fighters. On the other hand, Pakistan has still not succeeded in projecting the confessions of Kulbhushan Jhadav who was caught red-handed for destabilizing Pakistan through a clandestine network.
Sino-Indian stand-off at Dokhlam created a limited but a strategic character for Pakistan which has been successfully played by China, insisting that if India has entered on Bhutan’s request, then China may also enter into Kashmir if Pakistan wished so.
One major blow to the state’s international interests that is dealt by an inefficient Foreign Office is the setbacks in the UN bodies. At a time when nation is waiting for final proceedings in Kulbhushan case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) the country has failed to appoint a judge for ICJ bench. Moreover, by not exposing the Indian intrigues as well as the atrocities and human rights violations in IOK, Pakistan has missed a rare opportunity to re-internationalize the dispute.
Since NATO and the EU are directly involved in the Afghan conflict, they need more cooperation from Pakistan. So, those at the helm of affairs should take radical steps to pursue its interests and safeguard its sovereignty. Only a robust foreign policy can be a panacea to all ills Pakistan is faced with at present.