fbpx

Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: New Constraints and Compulsions

Pakistan’s civilian and military rulers must understand that three decades of instability in Afghanistan has generated an acute security crisis at home

Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been a story of constraints and compulsions and not the opportunities and choices. The three pillars of Pakistan’s foreign policy Washington, Beijing and Riyadh are also a function of this. The alliances Pakistan made, the internal policy making, the prioritisation between state security and human security, democracy and dictatorships are all a function of Pakistan’s threat perceptions, the biggest constraint on Pakistani’s foreign policy. This threat perception has not receded even though Pakistan is a nuclear power; in fact, it now has trajectories which are beyond the control of at least the existing policy makers of Pakistan, largely because Pakistan was unable to respond to the new emerging trends in international relations and its impact on domestic and global politics.

For the first time in the history of Pakistan, it faces multiple squeezes and threats. The foremost being the multiple squeezes on our territorial security. The flawed notion of strategic depth was rightly rejected by both the foreign minister and the chief of army staff. The new constraint is that Pakistan may have rejected the notion of strategic depth but what it faces today is strategic vulnerability and is all set to meet with ‘strategic defeat in Afghanistan’. This transition from a flawed policy of strategic depth to a likely strategic defeat is a scenario that must be prevented.

A new latest making rounds is that Pakistan could go to war with Afghanistan. Even if an all-out war doesn’t happen, cross-border raids are occurring from both sides of the Durand Line. In the month of July, dozens of militants from Kunar province raided a village near Bajaur and took villagers hostage. And such incursions are not new. Afghanistan has suffered cross-border assaults for years, and Pakistan is also no stranger to them. (recall that last year, 200 militants entered Bajaur from Kunar, and fought Pakistani forces for several days) There are indications that the two governments are starting to lose patience. Afghanistan has claimed that Pakistan’s military fired rockets on suspected TTP camps in Kunar, while Pakistan recently accused 60 Afghan soldiers of pursuing militants in Upper Kurram District.

A new threat to Pakistan territorial security is the two hostile borders. This may not seem to be an immediate concern but the anti-Pakistan statements given by an important Americans on the Indian soil seem to carry special significance and is a part of the multiple squeezes that Pakistan faces. Notwithstanding the commitment to improve bilateral relations, the issue of terrorism is constantly harped upon by India. The most recent being Abu Jundal’s episode, the occasion was routinely exploited to blame Pakistan.

Last but not the least is our internal security situation. The Pakistani state writ is challenged everyday from the streets of Karachi to our tribal belts. What the world seeks of Pakistan, Pakistan needs to deliver for its own survival. The Jihadi groups have proliferated in the urban centres of the country. They are not a peripheral phenomenon anymore, and the sectarian, ethnic, political, criminal and law and order situation in Pakistan today has its link to that extremist paradigm and the weakening writ of the Pakistani state.

Drone attacks continue unabatedly. They may provide a military solution, but that aggravate the already grim political situation. One reason for the drone attacks is that Pakistan does not have complete control over its territory and as a result, it is unable to provide security to its citizens on its own soil, who are attacked again and again.

Nato supplies are restored and the real story is once again about our economic constrains and compulsion epitomised by the fact that it was our Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh who concluded the final negotiations.

The new constraint is that Pakistan may have rejected the notion of strategic depth but what it faces today is strategic vulnerability and is all set to meet with ‘strategic defeat in Afghanistan’. This transition from a flawed policy of strategic depth to a likely strategic defeat is a scenario that must be prevented.

The whole debate has now come down to what forced Pakistan to climb down from its initial demands. Fear of isolation, losing its role in the Afghan endgame, aggravating the economy and the threats of designating Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba as terrorist organisations ‘a move that would have had serious repercussions for Pakistan, all contributed to the decision to allow reopening the supply routes. Hillary Clinton’s statement on having been assured about the reopening of routes while the DCC meeting was in progress left no doubt that the decision had already been taken and the session was a mere formality. However, the fact that the decision came after a period of seven months is indicative of policy paralysis and policy confusion, one prime minister (Gillani) said the closing was in national interest, the new prime minister said opening was in national interest. GHQ the real architect of Pakistan foreign policy is in a state of strategic confusion over the policy in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s civilian and military rulers must understand that three decades of instability in Afghanistan has generated an acute security crisis at home.

The myth of ‘New Foreign Policy’ shows as if things are changing in Pakistan, within and without. If we look at the sequence of the events that have been taken place internally and externally, it seems misjudgment, it’s the false claim that the foreign policy of Pakistan influences or decides its internal conditions; in fact, it is the other way around. It has been the unstable of conditions inside Pakistan that have long set the frames of its foreign policy, and foreign policy decisions cannot be politicized and emotionalized.

By: Huma Baqai

Leave a Reply

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