Why the United States ....
Pakistan too needs a strong relationship with the US. True, it has very strong ties with China, but it relations with both the countries are not mutually exclusive. We should learn from China, which has demonstrated that you can have differences with the United States and yet it would pursue a strong strategic and economic dialogue to promote interdependence and win-win cooperation. Pakistan’s foreign policy, or for that matter of any mature nation, is all about balance. China also wants that Pakistan’s relations with the US should be stable and it should continue to explore peace with India (and of course India should engage with us).
Pakistan and the US have decided to “expand the bilateral relationship in areas outside the traditional security realm” to “trade and investment; education, science and technology; clean, efficient and affordable energy; efforts to counter climate change; economic growth; regional integration .... ” Progress in all these areas is primarily in Pakistan’s interest.
For the modernization of Pakistan’s economy as well as for access to advanced technologies, we should continue to benefit from the US-led western world. It goes without saying that the US does have influence with the international financial institutions and Pakistan would rely on their support for some time to come. Our chambers of commerce and industry continue to work closely because Pakistan requires to be on a fast learning curve in regard to networking for enhancing trade and entrepreneurial opportunities. The US is a facilitator for Pakistan’s participation in the Global Connect Initiative to use to the Internet more productively. Besides, our exposure to the US would also enable us to create more “Smart Universities” through enhanced Wi-Fi broad access.
To launch a knowledge economy, thousands of Pakistani graduates should be enrolling in American and Western universities for doctoral and postdoctoral studies especially. Our Vision 2025 and the USPakistan Knowledge Corridor create that interface, but the scale of our collaboration is meagre. As we realize our ambition to take our economy to a higher level, we must secure placement in the core disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
In the coming years, the US-Pakistan relations will always remain vulnerable because of he enormous influence in Washington of the 3.5 million strong Indian American community, whose members have moved into key positions in the Administration, Congress, financial institutions and think tanks. Pakistan too has a potential equalizer, albeit asymmetric, in its prosperous and well placed diaspora community, whose number may range between 700,000 to 1 million. This asset needs to be developed. China, India, Israel and many European countries have demonstrated how their communities’ strengths can be leveraged. Thankfully, the US system is open to such activity which is considered quite legitimate under its constitution, laws and political system.
No matter what we say, the US-India and the US-Pakistan relationship has been a zero sum game, 1995 onward. Since then, India’s gain has been Pakistan’s loss. And now India’s clout in Washington is unprecedented, second only to Israel’s. Pakistan needn’t be daunted by this challenge. It too has its own niche which can be developed with ingenuity. The US, for its part, should conduct a review to assess the intended and unintended consequences of its policy and posture towards Pakistan. — (The writer is former Ambassador to the UN and China. He also worked in Pakistan Embassy in Washington from 1997 to 2002)
PESHAWAR: Traffic official displaying the illegal number plates before media.