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Pakistan's Foreign Policy


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#1
SSAAD

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Lets discuss the pros and cons of our FP here.  Starting with this interesting piece in the Herald:

 

What should determine Pakistan’s foreign policy?
Updated Jun 05, 2015 01:50am
Flags outside the United Nations headquarters in Geneva | EPA

When Saudi Arabia expects Pakistani soldiers to fight in Yemen, it invokes religion and money to have its way. When Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Pakistan, official propagandists go into overdrive to highlight the economic and strategic imperatives that bind together Islamabad and Beijing. When we speak of our other neighbours – India, Afghanistan and sometimes Iran – we mostly do so with hostile undertones. And then there is the United States, which looms large over everything that happens in Pakistan. What should drive our relations with these countries and the rest of the world?

The Herald asks a few analysts with inside knowledge of Islamabad’s foreign policy mechanisms.

Pursuing ‘national interest’
Pakistani troops ride Al-Zarar tanks during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2015 | AFP

National interest should be the only driving force behind Pakistan’s foreign policy. All our alliances should be subjected to this keystone criterion. That said, no country can remain isolated and all relationships between states, bilaterally and multilaterally, are therefore based on mutual interests, which are freely determined and pursued.

But what do we mean by national interest? It lies in enhancing our economic, military and cultural power within our overall ideological framework. We should use our foreign policy to, first and foremost, defend our territory from outside aggression and internal strife. That necessitates strong defense and deterrent capabilities. We have to leverage our relations with nations in the region and beyond, as well as with international multilateral institutions, to attract foreign direct investment, start off joint ventures and promote trade. All these activities should be geared towards accelerating our GDP growth, raising standards of living and improving human development. Moreover, it is a core function of Pakistan’s foreign policy practitioners to project the country’s soft power, one that must be nurtured within Pakistan. A national interest-centred foreign policy will also act as a catalyst for domestic economic development and international clout.

By Masood Khan, Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, and former ambassador to the United Nations

Shifting regional dynamics
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Islamabad | AFP

Pakistan’s sense of insecurity, vis-à-vis a more powerful India, has been the core driver of its foreign policy since Partition. Its relations with its immediate neighbours such as Afghanistan and Iran, and other regional countries such as Turkey and the Gulf States, have all been filtered through this security prism. Its close alliance with the United States-led regional security systems for the past six decades was also shaped by this core insecurity dynamic. The normal pursuit of national interest has been primarily defined in hard security terms by successive governing elites. A wider definition which highlights the pursuit of economic and social prosperity of the people of Pakistan as the rational end goal of its relations with the wider world is mostly absent from strategic thinking.

Changing global trends in regional trade and the growth of Asian economies is forcing Pakistan to readjust the focus of its foreign relations especially within its neighbourhood. Pakistan’s reluctance in getting militarily involved in the Saudi-led war in Yemen is evidence of this new thinking. As Iran looks to rejoin the global economy after sanctions against its exports come to an end, Pakistan is positioning to revive the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Getting too deeply enmeshed in the Iranian-Saudi struggle in the Middle East would intensify tensions with Iran and adversely impact security in the province of Balochistan. Pakistan’s improved relations with the Ashraf Ghani administration in Afghanistan also reflect this broader shift in its foreign policy framework.

By Simbal Khan, an academic and CEO of Indus Global Initiative

Playing to our strengths
Women work on agricultural land in Lahore | AFP

Pakistan’s foreign policy ought to be based on our country’s inherent strengths. As the sixth-largest nation in the world by way of population – with reliable demographic data indicating that we are closing in on 200 million people – we should frame a policy which assumes that we possess a reasonable quality of human resources and have an extremely useful geography.

Our human resource base was good enough to make us the only nuclearised Muslim state in the world. Our strength is our agriculture, which enables us to be food-sufficient with a considerable surplus of rice and wheat. We also enjoy an abundance of fruit, vegetables and dairy products and have the capacity to launch all these for export. Our next strength is located in our capacity to weave the finest cotton fabrics in the world, based on indigenously grown raw cotton, which commands strong markets abroad.

We can rightfully boast of the highest quality of craftsmanship in leather, metals, pottery and stitched craft, and are now entering the fashion market at an international level. Our jewellery, gemstones and marble – notably onyx – draw interest worldwide. Moreover, our considerable mineral resources await exploration, as do our deposits of natural gas.

Despite all these strengths, we have fallen into a debt trap because of poor governance and mismanagement, rectifying which is certainly within the realm of the feasible. A growth- and export-driven economy would enable us to exploit our strategic advantage effectively and base our foreign policy on an economically strong agenda.

Syeda Abida Hussain, a Pakistani politician and former ambassador to Washington

Regional cooperation
— AFP

The welfare of a nation, the power of a state and the importance of its voice in the comity of nations is drawn from the strength of its economy. Therefore, Pakistan’s foreign policy ought to be determined primarily by economic interests. For the first time in three centuries from the West to Asia, a historic shift is taking place in the centre of gravity of the global economy. This provides a unique opportunity for Pakistan to build a prosperous future for its people and emerge as a strong and economically independent state.

Over the last two decades, China and India – with a billion citizens each – have doubled their per capita incomes. According to a recent United Nations Development Programme report, in terms of speed and scale, this economic performance has had a greater impact on the world than the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Given present trends, China will emerge as the largest economy in the world over the next two decades and if South Asia achieves economic integration as envisaged in South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), then South Asia can emerge as the second-largest economy in the world, thereby making the China–South Asia region the greatest economic powerhouse in human history.

A policy of economic integration with China on the one hand and South Asia on the other will not only maximise Pakistan’s economic gains but also provide a balance to its relationship with its larger neighbours. Accordingly, our foreign policy should aim to build not only a North-South economic corridor with China, but also an East-West corridor across Asia, from Iran to Myanmar.

By Akmal Hussain, an economist, author and a professor at Forman Christian College, Lahore

What do you think should determine Pakistan's foreign policy? Sound off in the comments section.


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#2
H Khan

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Saad,

 

Before we start a new thread just please consider the following:

 

1- Foreign policy needs a dedicated minister, does Pakistan have one?


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H Khan

Pakistanis (irrespective of their standing in society) exult gossip, paranoia, superstition, and conspiracy theories more than the science of history- H Khan


#3
SSAAD

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Great point!  Our PM thinks he can handle both offices.  What is amply clear is that his short sightedness has led to his ceding ground to the Army in this space which has its own downsides.


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#4
FaisalK

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Above that we need an actual ideological framework. Whether Republican or Democrat, the terms "freedom and democracy" are heard loud and clear by both. The two ar the cornerstone of U.S foreign policy. Sure, the end result of freedom is deregulation and democracy of strong power brokers, but at least there is a general vision that is shared by all political actors.

What's Pakistan? We're a weird dodgy mix of contradicting values and beliefs, and that opens up to opportunistic politics because there's hardly a common reference point to account one another on.
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Regards;


#5
Aslan S.

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Of the strong view, that Pakistan must accept Syrian refugees, as well as Iraqi, and Libyan refugees who has been marred with contant Wars and are homeless. Although - it is a difficult task, accepting boats and planes of refugees and built towns for the Muslim migrants to live in peace.
 
Our Govt. and Military as well as the Pakistani public as a Muslim duty to Allah, can make this happen.
 
This is the time of life when Pakistanis can lead as a first example and actually do something heroic for our Middle-eastern brothers.


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#6
H Khan

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Why accept Syrian and don't allow 300,000 Bihari Pakistani living in slums of B'desh?


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H Khan

Pakistanis (irrespective of their standing in society) exult gossip, paranoia, superstition, and conspiracy theories more than the science of history- H Khan


#7
H Rehman

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Of the strong view, that Pakistan as an Islamic Republic must accept Syrian refugees, as well as Iraqi, and Libyan refugees who has been marred with contant Wars and are homeless. It is a difficult task, accepting boats and planes of refugees, but this help is being done in the way of Allah(swt)'s guidance and a Muslim's duty. Built town and cities for the Muslim migrants to live in peace.

 

Our Govt. and Military as well as the Pakistani public can make this happen.

 

This is the time of life when Pakistanis can lead as a first example and actually do something for our Middle-eastern brothers.

 

This is a leadership moment for us. I was reading how the oil shiekdoms have refused to accept any Syrian refugees. Pakistan should step up and accept a few thousand to show how we can walk the walk despite limited resources. This will go a long way towards goodwill. A hug is always more powerful than a bullet. Although, when thinking about doing this project I am reminded of how overdue it is to bring home Pakistanis stranded in BD.   


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#8
SSAAD

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Why accept Syrian and don't allow 300,000 Bihari Pakistani living in slums of B'desh?

My point would be, why not both?


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#9
H Khan

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My point would be, why not both?

Yes, why not both and even the Myanmar Muslims also.


H Khan

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#10
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It's high time we should realize the intensity of humanitarian crisis in Syria. empathy and sympathy has always been paramount in Pakistanis heart.

After watching the pictures of martyred children on the shores of Turkey, one can't help but get sick.


The process of syrians, should be done under a proper organized system which I'm sure GoP and our intelligence agencies could device. This should be unlike the 6 million Afghan refugee process which was such a horrible mess that we are still paying for it.

It is worth noting that Syrians should not be treated as jahil Afghans. Syrians are much better and educated lot serving in higher echelon of Syria Government, Forces and Syrian Companies. Syrians won't be miscreants and thankless people like the Afghans. The general public of Syria are peace loving and educated unlike most third-rate Afghans which were uneducated and uncivilized.

We can't close our eyes like this. If we are working so hard for our internal security and to secure the future of our children, then the Syrians are also our children and they are also as innocent as our Peshawar martyers.

I am sure that the people of Pakistan have the spirit and will to accommodate a 'few thousands' if the GoP takes the initiative, and not 6 million Afghans... rather at the same time kick those remaining 2 million, ungrateful Afghans from Pakistan, for Syrians and GCC refugees to come to Pakistan through proper channels.


If anyone from you has a voice in circles of the higher ups, which i think do, your constant voice can reach every-where in government, army and media.
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#11
Abdullah S.

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The fraud OIC summit that is about to happen in Islamabad should be used to convince other Muslim countries to come up with a refugee sharing formula because Pakistan on its own can not handle another tranche of millions of refugees without coming down to its knees again. We should offer to accept double the amount of refugees other countries have to take just to set an example. If something like this is not done then whats the point of being Muslims? In fact, whats the point of being humans beings?

 

The painful reality of the matter of rohingya Muslims and Biharis is that it is a little different than the Syrian refugee crises. Once they are here, they wont be going back anywhere and would become a permanent part of the society. I personally don't have anything against it but our politicians wouldn't agree to it because that would change some of the demographics of the areas in which these people are arranged to be settled. Some politicians have in the past refused to allow the settlement of Biharis in their areas when this matter was given some consideration in the previous Nawaz government.



#12
H Khan

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Refugees seldom return.


H Khan

Pakistanis (irrespective of their standing in society) exult gossip, paranoia, superstition, and conspiracy theories more than the science of history- H Khan


#13
Abdullah S.

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Refugees seldom return.

But at least refugees can be forced out when the host country wants to due to their legal status, like we are contemplating forcing Afghan refugees out. The rohingya and Bihari case would be different.



#14
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Yes, why not both and even the Myanmar Muslims also.

If Pakistan was created as the homeland for the Muslims of South Asia, any Muslims who are oppressed in South Asia at least should find the doors open.  However this takes an open heart and a good economy to make it happen.  As much as Muslims love to bad mouth Israelis, one should look at their policy of "Aliyah".  Pakistan, a country established in the name of Islam, could learn a thing or two from that policy.


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#15
H Khan

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But at least refugees can be forced out when the host country wants to due to their legal status, like we are contemplating forcing Afghan refugees out. The rohingya and Bihari case would be different.

Contemplating for the past 26 years?


H Khan

Pakistanis (irrespective of their standing in society) exult gossip, paranoia, superstition, and conspiracy theories more than the science of history- H Khan


#16
Abbas

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Have you not learnt anything from the last 35 years? Pakistan has been driven to the point of implosion doing its "Muslim duty" for the Afghan refugees. Are the Afghans grateful for the refuge they received in Pakistan, or their liberation from Soviet occupation? Which Islamic country has emulated the example set by Pakistan? How long will you continue to be seduced by hollow slogans invoking Islam? When will you wake up, and see no Islamic country acts Islamically but only acts in its self interest?

 

Sorry for the rant, but I am sick and tired of seeing Pakistan become the sacrificial lamb of the Islamic world. I cry when I think of the promise Pakistan held, and compare that dream to what it has become.

 

NavBaby


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Pakistan Will Prevail

#17
ARMalik

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The fact of the matter is that issues in Middle East and specially Syria have been created by US and Europe. And Europe is now facing refugee crisis with hundreds and thousands of these tortured and brutalised people fleeing from Syria and middle East to Europe. Pakistan is not the right country for these people because:

 

-Pakistan does not have the resources to look after these people

-It is a crisis created by Europe and USA and thus these people should be settled in Europe and not in Pakistan. Let Europe pay for what they have done.

-The days of 'Muslim Brotherhood' and 'Pan Islamism' are over whether we like it or not. And this is part due to Arabs using these terms for 'political' goals rather then something tangible. In fact arabs made it worse when they increased their discrimination between Arab and Non-Arab Muslims.

 

These are the days of regional alliances and Pakistan needs to ensure its strategic alliances with Turkey and China remain strong.


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#18
FaisalK

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The question shouldn't be "should we take them in?" ... Rather, it should be "why can't we?"

In other words, we need to understand that our system is the absolute worst for those who are vulnerable and in need. When your political and economic framework is basically benefiting the few and not the many, it is natural that the injection of 300 000 persons would be seen as a threat by the many. The strain is real and it will hurt, and appealing to a common person's good will can only work for so long. Not only that, but as with many vulnerable and insecure people, I have no doubt the beghairat rats lurking in our midst will exploit them in some way.

On the other hand, if our system were such that wealth were not concentrated but instead diffused across the land like blood flowing through the body, then not only would we be in a position to accept refugees, we'd want them. These Iraqis and Syrians are generally educated, and I have no doubt if we had a system that could rejuvenate doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians, teachers, bakers, cooks, etc, back into work, that we would all benefit thanks to the increase of services and goods in the market these people can provide. Hell, the cooking alone would probably help with our health. But unfortunately we do not have such a system, our system ejects Pakistanis of such caliber, so imagine how it'd treat refugees.

We need to change the system. It is my dream to see Pakistan be not just a leader among Muslims, but within the world, and to be a power that the likes of Sweden would actually look to as a positive reference point. It is my dream to be a power that sets fools straight and attracts talent, wealth and ambition. But the Goddamn clowns we have running us are not sustainable, they and their circus system will be the death of Pakistan I guarantee it.

 


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Regards;


#19
Abdullah S.

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Contemplating for the past 26 years?

Well at least we have the option to. Its not like we haven't repatriated million already. According to UNHCR, 3.8 million since 2002 to be exact. And things aren't looking good for the rest of them either.

 

But anyway, I do agree with all of the gentlemen who have posted above. I was really impressed when I first read about the Aliyah concept from Israel, they are really sincere with the people who they consider their own in a sense. Its a shame that we are in no position to adopt a similar policy considering the reason of being for Pakistan. But at least an effort should be made at the diplomatic level by Pakistan with the Muslim countries for coming up with a refugee sharing formula for at least some of the refuges from Syria. This should have happened for Afghanistan & Iraq as well. If Muslim countries can't even take a token sample of refugees then they might as well stop calling themselves Muslims.

 

But if we do try to take some of these refugees, proper measures should be adopted for their security from hostile intelligence operations because they will be the juiciest target for the recruitment of new fighters & suicide bombers. Some might even take up the cause of ISIS in Pakistan if permanent economic incentives are offered thereby creating an entirely new problem for us. I don't care how educated they may be, a combination of poverty and extremist religious teachings is always deadly. I'm reminded of what the Palestinian refugees did to their Jordanian hosts in the 70s.

 

As far proper arrangements are concerned, I'm sure we must have learned a lot on how to properly handle large amounts of refugees from the Afghan crises. The lessons learnt from that debacle should be applied here with these Syrian people. I'm sure if proper arrangements are made for the educated people, they would really benefit us. For example, we have a severe shortage of doctors & nurses in Pakistan and they don't like to be posted in far flung areas so the people of these areas are always short changed when it comes to even basic health care. If a comprehensive plan is made to distribute the services of Syrian refugee doctors throughout Pakistan it would be a win win situation for both parties. As time passes, they can be absorbed into the society permanently if they fulfill a certain citizenship criteria. Young Doctors Association ka tunta bhi muk jai ga.


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#20
A Khan

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The bulk of the 4+ million Syrian refugees are living in 3 countries (approximate figures): Turkey (2 million), Libanon (1,4 million) and Jordan (800,000). All 3 are Pakistani allies/partners/friends. Then there is Iraq (250,000), Egypt (50-100,000) and then there are 200-300,000 seeking refuge in Europe. Pakistan cannot provide them better facilities then what they have in Turkey/Libanon/Jordan. Just take a walk past your local Afghan/FATA/Flood victims camp and you will see how bad conditions are for those people already inside Pakistan in need of help, and then you have all the millions of poor without access to school or healthcare. Frankly we have people inside Pakistan who are living in as bad conditions as the Syrian refugees. Pakistanis are very often on the same boats as the Syrian refugees coming to Europe.

 

What can we do to help?

 

First we should provide what ever assistance, financial or other, that we can give to Turkey, Libanon and Jordan. In both Libanon and Jordan the health, education, political and social sectors are under severe strain, and they have been managing so far, due to external support, mainly from Gulf countries, but that is not enough and more is needed. Both states could face a collapse in the very near future, potentially creating another 5+ million refugees in the region. Considering our wast experience with hosting millions of Afghans, we should help them in whatever way we can.

 

Secondly and more importantly: Diplomacy! I watched an interview of a young Syrian boy in Hungary a few days ago, and his words were very clear in terms of what he and other Syrians wanted more than anything: Stop the war! I think the saddest part is, and this is a collective shame (another one on the long list) for the entire muslim leadership, and even public and NGO's, that no one is talking about how to end the war.

 

In the 1980's and 1990's Pakistani FM's and diplomats played very active roles in garnering International support at the UN, OIC and other multilateral forums, for peace between Iran-Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Gulf war 1 + 2, Bosnia. But Pakistan post Musharraf has somehow completely shut down on the diplomatic front. We now need that more than ever before. Yet we still dont have a FM!! Now i know that our active role will not ensure peace tomorrow, but it is important to play a role and not just sit on the fence and close our eyes thinking "they didnt help us on Kashmir/Afghanistan/India/etc.". We are a country of 200 million people and a major regional military power. We should atleast have some diplomatic weight to throw around and help solve these conflicts which effect our key allies/partners badly and in some cases our own expat communities.

 

The Turks are our key allies, and they have been fighting the diplomatic war alone for 4+ years now. We need to get in the game, and help out. We have good ties with Iran, Russia, China and KSA/GCC also, West is also not hostile to us any more, so on Syria (and Yemen), we need to get in the game and start some fast track diplomacy.  If we can just start by focussing on getting a cease-fire in place so humanitarian aid can go in, that is perhaps the best way to help the Syrians currently more than anything else.


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