Success stories of Pak foreign policy
Pakistan is currently passing through a rough patch on the foreign policy front. Recent clashes at Torkham Border crossing took our relations with Afghanistan at the sub-zero level. The budding cooperation between Pakistan and India after the Pathankot incident seems to have nose-dived, as the latter is again accusing Pakistan for a fresh terror incident in IOK. Chahbahar Port developments too rang alarm bells for Pakistan. Furthermore, the relationship with the US is also getting frigid. As we get mired into one foreign policy crisis after another, questions are being raised on the performance of foreign office. However, one’s perception should not be blinkered by a few crises, as Pakistan earned some notable achievements in the past 3 years.
Before our relations with India, Afghanistan and US hit a rock bottom recently, and we embroiled ourselves in a foreign policy impasse, Pakistan achieved many breakthroughs. The country attained full membership of the SCO, which can expand Pakistan’s outreach and provide much needed economic and diplomatic leverage. Pakistan improved its estranged relationship with Russia. The latter is interested in trade partnership with Pakistan and both the countries are willing to bury their bitterness of the Cold War era. Most importantly, pipelines are being laid to import LNG from Russia into energy-starved Pakistan, despite US sanctions on the Russian firms. CASA-1000 and TAPI gas pipeline are landmark projects not only to fulfil our energy needs, but also significant ways to enhance regional connectivity and cooperation.
The Central Asian Republics are keen to access Gawadar port. If this plan succeeds, Pakistan would be a hub of trade and economic activities with CARs and the regions beyond. The historic CPEC is termed as a “game-changer”, as never before an investment of such a massive scale entered into Pakistan. Pakistan acquired the much-touted GSP Plus status in 2013, which provides duty free access to Pakistan’s exports in the European market. Moreover, little light is thrown on Pak-US Knowledge Corridor. US - which was hitherto interested in military aid and sale of weapons to Pakistan, would now equip our young graduates with skills and modern education about Science and Technology in its top universities. Moreover, Pakistan made pragmatic decisions on the Gulf countries’ issues.
Pakistan embassies in the foreign countries are also making earnest efforts to dispel the misperceptions about Pakistan. A spectre of such efforts was seen when for the very first time in the country’s history, UN’s hall was echoed with Pakistani music and decorated with colours of the country, this year on Pakistan Day.
Nonetheless, presently Pakistan is besieged by challenges and only through pragmatism and farsightedness from the civil and military leaderships, Pakistan can sail through them. We have to learn from our failed foreign policies of the past to get out from the present quagmire. A strong resolve for Pakistan’s economic stability and an indomitable will to root out all forms and manifestations of terrorism without discrimination, would lead Pakistan onto the path of peace and prosperity. —Via email