Pakistan's Diplomacy Needs A New Direction

Pakistan's Diplomacy Needs A New Direction
Abdul Qayyum Kundi argues that Pakistan is unprepared for the ramifications of the ongoing regional crises including the rising tensions between America and its allies with Iran and China. 

Pakistan holds a key geopolitical place in the world sitting at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz and bordering two of the largest economies in the world China and India. Our foreign policy strategic interests have always been short-changed because of weak and incapable governments as well as a short-sighted foreign policy that has too much focus on security at the cost of trade and economy.

The current government does not leave anyone in doubt that they are on the same page with the military establishment which in practical terms means that foreign policy is controlled by them. Before President Obama, every US President made sure to include Pakistan on its itinerary when traveling to India but that has changed as we have transitioned from Indo-Pak to AfPak.

President Trump uses his personal charm as a deception. He has done it so many times that I am surprised why people take it seriously. He charmed Pakistani PM Imran Khan in all three meetings between them but has practically delivered nothing to Pakistan rather supported our regional rivals. President Trump has taken similar steps like PM Modi to polarise and divide the community by banning Muslims, supporting the apartheid regime of

Israel, and radicalisation of the society against minorities resulting in increasing incidents of hate crime.
President Trump supported extremist right in Europe and encouraged them to create barriers to prevent Muslim refugees from arriving at their borders to be given asylum.

These refugees had to leave their homes because of the wars imposed on them by the West. President Trump has offered to mediate between India-Pak to resolve the Kashmir conflict but always provided diplomatic cover to India in FATF and UN Security Council. Even during the visit this week he targeted Pakistan and labeled it a country harboring terrorists which are the foreign policy position of India in order to isolate us. He refused to recognise that the Indian fundamentalist government is tearing a country apart that could boomerang into a regional crisis and engulf everyone in it.

Pakistan cannot remain indifferent to the plight of Indian Muslims as there are cultural, linguistic and religious linkages between the two communities.

Pakistani government for its part has been more than eager to do more for the Trump administration to help them get out of the Afghan quagmire. In return, they have not got anything substantial except empty promises. We should not blame America for our diplomatic failures.

Not just this government but most past governments have also sold our national interest short. Pakistan has many diplomatic and geostrategic tools available that have not been used effectively. America is not talking to the Afghan Taliban because we convince them the dialogue table is the only option. It is because their own priorities have changed. We are jumping up and down with joy that our narrative has prevailed and seems to be happy with just that. What have we gained to serve our national interest from this? To help them get out of it what have we got in return? Nothing so far.

Our strategic needs are getting out of the FATF grey list, develop bilateral trade, attract foreign investment, and prolonged peace in the region. We have not achieved any of it. We are still in the grey list of FATF. Our bilateral trade with many countries and regions is stagnant with no sign of revival. No country is offering us free trade deals or eager to send foreign direct investment. Peace in the region is still a pipe dream as all indications are that America is not fully withdrawing from Afghanistan and there are fears of another civil war there. The tensions are rising between America and its allies with Iran and China. This will have a far greater impact on our society and economy. We seem to be unprepared for that. Our bilateral relations are still tense with India and no country has made serious effort to de-escalate it.

We have to get realistic and understand that our diplomacy needs a new direction and philosophical underpinning. The current republic can’t do it because it is a non-functioning enterprise. We need to reorganise it as a second republic. Only then we can be sure of a more effective foreign policy.