ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan does not have a foreign policy and as a result a trend has developed to just react on international developments. Even there is no clear policy on India and Kashmir and Islamabad depends on friendly countries such as China to further its stance on the longstanding issue.
These views were expressed by scholar and politician Dr Shireen Mazari at an event, “Changing global power dynamics and challenges for foreign policy of Pakistan” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute. The event was held to discuss challenges after the unexpected victory of Donald Trump as the US president.
Dr Mazari said though it was being claimed that Mr Trump’s victory was unexpected, the world had started changing many years ago and the US president-elect just took advantage of that changes.
“The changes started with the demise of the Soviet Union. After that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) was also set to be disbanded but a decision was taken to widen its ambit and for that the term ‘clash of civilisations’ was coined. Another change was the emergence of non-state actors, both terrorists and economically strong companies,” she said.
Dr Shireen Mazari says a trend has developed to just express reactions to developments in the world
“The idea of fencing between countries is also not new as there have been fences between European countries to stop migrants but Mr Trump openly started speaking against migrants. In other words, Mr Trump said what others felt.”
She said these changes were predictable but the government of Pakistan did not do a proper homework. On the other hand, India did a proper homework and the recent attacks/firings on the Line of Control (LoC) were a part of New Delhi’s new policy.
Talking about the policies of the new American president and its impacts, Dr Mazari said the US would destabilise Pakistan because its ultimate objective was to roll back the country’s nuclear programme by using the United Nations.
She suggested that the huge CIA centre in the Diplomatic Enclave should be disbanded besides a reduction in the American embassy staff.
“We can take such steps because the US assistance will be cut down, and apart from F-16 (aircraft) Pakistan has no dependency on the US hardware. Moreover, we should include Iran in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” she said.
However, retired Lt-Gen Amjad Shoaib differed with the opinion of Dr Mazari and said there would be no change in the American foreign policy.
“Trump will have impact on internal policy but the American foreign policy does not change with the change of personalities. However, just like the past practice, terrorism will be a matter of concern for the US. Moreover, the US will continue protecting Indian security interests instead of that of Pakistan.”
He said as long as Pakistan had nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, India cannot become a threat to the country. So efforts will be made to roll back the nuclear programme of Pakistan, he said.
However, Gen Shoaib warned that in future there would be more pressure on China to stop supporting Pakistan and ultimately efforts would be made to give India the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Russia would also like to maintain good relations with India.
He said there was a difficult time ahead for Pakistan’s foreign policy as there were so many challenges.
“We have failed to convince the world that India is involved in terrorism, not Pakistan, which has lost over 50,000 lives to terrorism,” he said.
Ambassador Tariq Osman Hyder said nine million Pakistanis working abroad can be made a political pressure group.
“These Pakistanis can be contacted easily as Nadra has issued 7.42 million new overseas ID cards.”
He also said CPEC can play a major role in the development of the country.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2016