A Historical Overview of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy

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Suggestions of Future Policy formulation in keeping with a Single Ally Purview amid Current Emerging Realities,

Maryum Maqsood
Never before in the annals of history has the world experienced such unbelievable transformations as those in recent times. The ever dynamic and fluctuating geo-strategic and geo-economic environment has imposed an ever growing vigil on policy makers to monitor and evaluate global trends and continuously re-orientate their policies so as to remain relevant, futuristic and all-embracing as any callousness in this regard on any facet of policy formulation can be disastrously catastrophic with severe political and economic ramifications. Peace and conflict are the hallmarks of today’s world order, emphasizing upon security planners and policy makers to foresee and remain responsive to emerging
scenarios or sudden eruptions. South Asia – where Pakistan is located – is an area of never ending conflicts, and is most affected by the changes in structures of global politics. Pakistan’s geo-strategic location awards it a pivotal role in the region and abridges correlation of forces of major players in the region such as China , Russia, USA and India. India has jumped onto the bandwagon with all its might and ambition, flexing its muscles and claiming its share of fleeting and available economic opportunities.
In the history of international alliances and conflicts, nothing is for granted except the furtherance of national interest. A friend of today can be a foe of tomorrow. Therefore, policy makers are entasked with not only having their assessments based on historic ties but also new emerging realities, shifts of national interest and correlation of all forces involved. History has repeatedly warned us of the perils single ally focused policies, even at the cost of losing one part of Pakistan when we ignored the shift in thoughts, rhetoric and actions of our so called allies. Our policy is flawed when it rests on a single ally,
limiting both our resources and future diplomatic channels with multiple allies that can prove more beneficial to Pakistan. As the saying goes, unwise is he who puts all his eggs in one basket. Similarly, Pakistan would benefit highly from a foreign policy formulated first and foremost with only the national interest in view. The policy should also contain enough flexibility to allow for multiple strategic alliances with different stakeholders in the region. A good example to look to with this regard is China which, despite its close partnership with Pakistan, also maintains diplomatic ties with India and The United States. A further strengthening of Pak-China relations is certainly within the national interest as they are
our time-tested friends. However, Pakistan’s foreign policy should never exclude regional and internal alliances. The establishment of regional blocks such as ASEAN have the potential to mutually benefit all countries involved. To conclude, Pakistan’s foreign policy should not be formulated with only a single beneficiary in mind. At the very least, foreign policies should be drafted with the intent to safeguard our sovereignty, minimize foreign influence in local affairs and allow room for future strategic partnerships to grow. With this approach, more countries would be vying for an alliance with Pakistan, putting us in
the privileged position of dictating the rules of future treaties and partnerships.

(-The writer is a IR scholar.)