By Abdul Rahman Malik,
Pakistan’s Foreign Policy has always remained the Arab Centric with Saudi Arab having Central role and Even its alignment towards the US since Independence. Pakistan has never revisited its Foreign Policy holistically to suit the Needs of the country on independent approach.
Since Independence, Pakistan has never clarified its stance on Foreign Policy development and the Terms of Engagement with its neighbours and the big powers. That was why Pakistan’s First Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan Preferred the US than Russia for its Friendship and paid his visit to America and became the part of West Block than East Block ie the then USSR.
Though Pakistan played a pivotal role in Russia-Afghan war but this strategic partnership did not bear any fruit for the nation due to Political instability, Strong Military Intervention and weak fiscal Policies.
This Diplomatic relationship or bonhomie has never proved Fruitful for the country owing to America being a fair weather Friend as Pak-US relations have always been marred by Distrust .Even Security Aid offered to Pakistan by America affected its Independent Foreign Policy to the extent that the used aid as pressure tool to force Pakistan to do More to combat terrorism and remove Safe haven of terrorists within Pakistan Domain . Although, Pakistan laid down numerous sacrifices of Soldiers and Civilians; approximately over 100000 in so-called War against Terrorism. Pakistan has alread paid a heavy price to be an Ally of Pakistan .
Especially, American led NATO strikes on Afghanistan in which Pakistan was asked to cooperate and hand over the Airports and Roads for Transportation of weapons to Afghanistan for NATO forces to topple Taliban Government and to kill or capture Osama Bin Ladin -The Master Mind of 9/11 Strike on World Trade Centre. American president Bush attacked Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 incident and to please his fellow Americans. Ever since the Strike, Afghanistan is still unstable despite the passage of 17 years of American led NATO Forces Presence.Even Taliban control 40 % of Afghanistan till today . There is no peace and frequents Suicide attacks on NATO forces and civilians have become the order of the day .
America is losing the Afghan war against terrorism badly but it resorts to blame Pakistan for Terrorist Safe Haves along the Durand line and its fiasco in Afghan War is being associated with Pakistan but the statistics suggest that Pakistan has suffered a lot than the US. Hundreds of Civilians and Soldiers were killed in Suicide Bomb blasts on Mosques, Churches, Temples, Schools and other Political Rallies.
This happened because Pakistan cooperated with the US in Afghanistan allowing it to use Pakistan’s soil against Taliban . Such cooperation enraged Taliban against Pakistan and they become fierce enemies of Pakistan – especially its brave Armed forces who initiated their major offensive against these Extremists in shape of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Rad-ul-Fassad which broke their Waist and Pakistan returned to peace . The Pak-Aghan border became the route for Aghan Taliban to penetrate in KPK and Punjab. Our Political Parties have never mandated the Security agencies against such extremist forces owing to their close linkages with them by a few political parties who have never condemned these elements rather supported them privately. After APS attack, Political parties gave go head to Paramilitary forces to launch Operation after adopting National Action Plan and establishing NACTA.
Pakistan Army has given unprecedented sacrifices for the defence of the country but Americans remained stuck to do more and same narrative of “Do More” prompted American President Donald Trump to blame Pakistan Through tweet that Pakistan has deceived US despite being paid billions in Security Aid. That blame stirred widespread protests against Us in Pakistan by various Parties. Even, ISPR Chief Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the aid they received is just $225 Million, not Billion.Even, the then PML-N Government was on the same page with ISPR and decided to review and reshape their Policy with new and equal terms of Engagement with the US but unfortunately that did not materialize since it was too late for them to respond as there was no Foreign Minister in PML-N Government for almost four years, only Sartaj Aziz worked as Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs . Pakistan did fail in devising an independent foreign Policy due to being the recipient of Security aid from the US and they stood Mum over the issue for several days until the regular debate on Electronic Media compelled them clarify and respond to the allegationa that rocked the country’s supremacy and Respect amongst world Nations.
Now, when PTI has emerged as Single majority Party at Centre and likely to form Govt in Center ,Punjab, KPK and Coalition Government in Baluchistan , It has great opportunity to devise an independent Foreign Policy for Pakistan to boost up its image Internationally and building Trade ties with neighbours. In his Victory Speech, Imran Khan envisaged his Foreign Policy that he intends to extend trade links and economic connectivity in the region and beyond. In the Foreign Policy of PTI led Government, Saudi Arab and Iran will have central role followed by Old friend China. He resolved to maintain friendly relations with China and continue the CPEC projects for Infrastructural Development of Pakistan. He said that relationship with Saudi Arab and Iran will benefit Pakistan on ideological grounds and help improve Pakistan economically.
He also Envisaged US-Pak Relations on equality basis which may be beneficial for both Nations rather than the imposition over other. Especially, Imran Khan’s interests in maintaining Stability in Afghanistan as except this, there would be looming security threats for Pakistan. Pakistan envisages engagement with Washington on equality basis and as a key ally to the US on basis of Mutual interest and trust.
He aspired that there should be peace in Afghanistan so that we have open borders with Afghanistan for trade as Afghanistan is a landlocked Country and it has only option to have traded through Pakistan.
About relations with India, he had the clear position that Pakistan wants Trade with India and other neighbours but the Kashmir issue has the central role. He offered India for dialogue to discuss the issue on Table Talks rather than indulging in Blame Game for Internal incidents. He stressed that the trade between Pakistan and India will mutually benefit both countries. Since PTI’s main objective is to revive the Pakistan economy and decrease the growing foreign Debt and boosting and attracting investments in the country. He went on to say that If India advances one Step forward, I would advance two steps as it is very important for the people of Kashmir that the issue must be resolved through Dialogue to pave the way for the trade .
Let’s hope that if PTI led Government reshapes the Foreign Policy of Pakistan and the Terms of Engagement with Neighbors and big powers i.e US, China and Russia , it will have far-reaching effects and Pakistan will reap the benefits of Regional Connectivity and revival of Economy provided that the New envisioned Policy is implemented in letter and spirit . Since it is the right time to do every possible attempt and utilize every possible option to revive the economy and bringing in foreign investments and getting rid of foreign Debt.
Imran Khan’s Foreign Policy Vision has been welcomed by the world especially Saudi Arab, Iran, India, US, China and Afghanistan and all the countries showed their resolve to extend bilateral relations with New PTI Government of Pakistan. Even, Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani through his tweet confirmed that he had Telephonic conversation with Imran Khan and have extended the invitation to Imran Khan to pay his kind Visit to Afghanistan and reiterated his stance to extend bilateral relations. Similar gesture was also shown by Saudi Arab, Iran, China, US and India through their Ambassadors and foreign Office Spokesmen.
There is also a plan in the ranks of PTI to invite all the SAARC Member Nations” PMs ,Presidents including Indian PM Narendra Modi , Afghan President ,Ashraf Ghani , Saudi Arab Prince , Turkish President Erdogan to participate in oath taking ceremony of Imran Khan as PM of Pakistan but PTI’s spokesman Mehmood-ul Rashid confirmed that such development is in pipeline and it will be discussed in the meeting after the process of formation of Governments in center, Punjab and KP .