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Policy paralysis- Pakistan foreign policy

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“Foreign policy of Pakistan is an utter failure as Pakistan is losing its credibility in the international polity” was the statement in a hard hitting, over passionate and immaculately worded speech made by Raza Rabbani former Chairman Senate of Pakistan, in a joint session of Parliament of Pakistan, post –abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir by Modi Government.

The abrogation of Article 370 has taken Pakistan by strategic surprise. This is yet another harbinger of major shifts in the stand of Indian policy makers and the executive. Modi Government has demonstrated its resolve and has announced to the world that ”enough is enough” and “now no more” as regard the integration of J&K with Indian union is concerned . The fiery and acrimonious attack by Raza Rabbani on the Pakistan Government in the joint session of Pak Parliament is testimony to this fact. The speakers convinced the audience that Pakistan foreign policy indeed has failed.

Discreet analysis of the recent happenings, in light of what Modi Government achieved which no other Government in India dared to even think of in last 72 years, one finds an astronomical rise in the clout of India in the international community. Many erstwhile equations have changed due to rapid economical, technological, space and social surges in India. On the other hand, Pakistan’s polity suffered major setbacks on account of poor economy, imbalances in civil polity, rise of unprofessionalism in the Army leadership, curtailment of rights of Media, marginalisation of Judiciary, radicalisation and subversion of its democratic institutions and finally astronomical surge in perpetration of terrorism across the world.   Pakistan, today, appears to have lost plausible credibility in the policy drawing board of the world.

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The Modi Government’s action of 05 Aug 2019 may have been the outcome of Pakistan’s successful  actions of settling Sunni Muslims in areas of FATA, Gilgit and Baltistan (Pakistan administered Kashmir) to change the demography of the of the region coupled with its action to bring Gilgit &Baltistan under direct federal control of Islamabad in Feb 2018 . There was no response to these blatant violations of UN resolutions by Pakistan from any quarter. However, Modi Government’s bold action to do a similar action has blown up the minds of Pakistani foreign policy makers. This covert alacrity by Pakistan and overt bold steps by India has made ‘line of control’ a de facto international border.

This has proved to be a serious setback to Pakistan establishment as enumerated by Hassan Nissar in TV interviews. He was vociferous in his belief that National Security Establishment has acted like a novice body with no regard to the national interests of Pakistan. He also slammed the Prime Minister’s (read Army) irate action of determining the foreign policy objectives not by an elected parliamentary panel but by a body that cares little for real long term national interests. It is apparent that the powers to be in Pakistan have sacrificed national interests and promoted their own personal interests, dealings and friendships with the respective powerful personalities in the countries with international influence. This is the reason that majority of ex rulers of Pakistan, politicians or the Army Generals are either employed or living abroad in full associative luxuries looked after by their foreign patrons.

As a result the foreign policy of Pakistan serves only the objectives of foreign powers and Pakistan has been reduced to be a ‘CLIENT STATE’ either to US, China or Saudi Arabia. The causes espoused by Pakistan foreign policy in various spheres are neither co-operative nor noble. Successive military and quasi political regimes have resorted to the personal, ideological and short term agenda which has made the Pakistan emerge as unreliable, taciturn and deceitful entity in the eyes of the world.

United States of America was a loyal supporter but Pak’s flip-flop on Taliban/Afghanistan issue, while receiving the aid in dollars, has raised serious concerns in the minds of US policy makers. They hoodwinked the US administration on the bogey of peace in Afghanistan and restoration of human rights of Kashmiris. Pakistan’s overdependence with revealed impudence on Taliban card and Kashmir bogey has been exposed and US has practically stopped the aid and now is very selective in deals with Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia also had trusted Pakistan for because of its geostrategic location, strategic appraisal and Islamic Wahabi ideology. Initially, Pakistan aided Saudi scheme with an effective balance on Shia Iran and promotion of  the spread of Wahabi culture in the region by way of hosting various regional organisations like Al Quada, ISIS, a large no of jamaats/tanzeems etc. However, the alleged secret intimation about Osama bin laden to United States leading to his abduction and execution, crackdown on Saudi Arabian supported terror groups etc, made it wary of Pakistan. Tacit refusal to join the coalition force lead by Saudi Arabia against Yemen earned Pakistan, the Saudi ire. Hence no credible support on Kashmir incident, flawlessly executed by Modi Government, from Saudi Arabia vindicates the obvious.

China, considered to be an all-weather ally, has huge stake in its BRI project i.e. CPEC in Pakistan. China has invested more than $62 billion in the project and is now facing the wrath of dissident elements against its projects in Gilgit-Baltistan-Khyber Pakhtunwa and very poignantly in Baluchistan. The inability of Pakistani establishment to provide security to the Chinese projects, manpower and material has irked them to a great deal. To rub the salt in the lacerating wounds of Chinese psyche, Pakistan has begun voicing the line of ”RENEGOTIATING THE CHINESE PROJECTS IN PAKISTAN”. This is in wake of the fact that they too may suffer the same fate as Sri Lanka in Hambantota. Recent half hearted approach of China in informal closed door United Nations Security Council meeting on Kashmir spells out the change in trends in Pakistan –China foreign policy initiative.

Russia has not forgotten the Pakistan supported, abetted and operated Taliban Campaign to subvert its Afghanistan Campaign. Today it badly needs buyers for its Oil and Gas, defence hardware and other products. Pakistan’s economy is too feeble  to be a prospective buyer. It hinges only on aids/credit purchases. This in wake of India’s orders for S400 air defence missile system and negotiations for S500 air defence missile system and SU 35 fifth generation fighters, has compelled Russia to revive old terms of Russia-India engagements. Under the present dispensation, what can Pakistan foreign policy achieve against India.

Japan is still reeling under the painful acts of Talibans and the ISI backed fundamentalists destroying centuries old Buddha temples in Afghanistan. The tall relics of Buddha were blown up by Pakistan supported Talibans with bombs. Thus, a powerful economy like Japan is reluctant to even display any sympathetic attitude towards Pakistan.

Iran, a Shia state, though ideologically at variance, has been needled by Pakistani establishment in its covert/overt support to the subversive elements on its Eastern borders. Pakistan ubiquitous silence on Iran’s sanctions by USA does not auger well for the Iranian establishment.

Turkey, though, overtly in support of Pakistan has enough of its own problems. Its not so strong economy, anti USA shift and Pro Russia stance is keeping it at bay vis a vis Pakistan.

Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Bin Mohammad too has decided not to feed /flog the irate dead horse and is trying to keep away from the hallucinations emanating from the Pakistan in the name of Islam.

Pakistan even antagonised the entire civilised world by unequivocal support to Iraqi, Syrian, Iranian and North Korean Nuclear programs in full public view. It also has overtly declared itself as Anti Israel Lobbyist. Even though, it has no confrontation with Israel in direct terms except ideological differences on religious lines, yet it remains a bone of contention in the eyes of numerous powerful, economically strong and opinion shaper countries (who are strong friends of Israel) in the world stage.

As strongly advocated by Raza Rabbani in Pakistan Parliament, Pakistan has to redefine its foreign policy objectives which should be in interest of Pakistan’s economy, polity, society and an entity as a whole. It should not aim at satiating the personal interests/gains of the rulers in power whether they are army generals, politicians or other so called intellectual hawks.

Brigadier (DR) Vijay Sagar Dheman

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