KARACHI: To face challenges in today’s world, Pakistan should devise a proactive foreign policy to improve its ties with the entire comity of nations as it is not possible for a state to go for isolation.
This was the crux of speeches delivered at a programme held ahead of the roundtable of young voices on Pakistan’s foreign policy at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) here the other day.
“We usually have had older people here to share their views about international matters and policies, but this time we decided to call a gathering of youth to share their views regarding Pakistan’s foreign policy,” said Dr Masooma Hasan.
Wajiha Najam, a research officer at the PIIA, said Pakistan’s potential was becoming irrelevant without a proper foreign policy. She also pointed that Pakistan did not just have four neighbours in China, Afghanistan, Iran and India. There was also the US as its global neighbor, but Pakistan was more interested in having a foreign policy and friendly relations with China.
Asif Ali, an assistant researcher at the PIIA, said that in today’s world it was not possible to lead life in old isolated ways. “A country must engage with other countries, but we don’t see any new developments on foreign policy,” he said.
“All we see is that when India launches a missile, Pakistan also follows the suit. We can also choose to go the opposite way and dismantle a nuke in reply to their wasting money on arms,” he said.
Amir Hussain, a doctoral candidate from the University of Karachi, said that Pakistan should have a foreign policy of having friendly relations all over the globe. “But we are more focused on our rivalry with next-door neighbour India from the very start. Why can’t we use the money we waste on the arms race on building our country from inside,” he said.
Farzana Ashraf, a researcher from Preston University, said Pakistan was a growing economy and should be looking at ways of expanding the economy further. “There is a need of having a material interest as far as our economy is concerned,” she said.
Zahid Faqir, a PhD research student from Preston University, observed that Pakistan had China on one side and the US on the other. “But Pakistan should work more on getting out of the clutches of the World Bank. We should look into reducing out debt to be independent in the foreign policy area,” he said.
Sobia Irfan, also a researcher, said Pakistan’s foreign policy successes were outnumbered by its foreign policy failures.
Omair Rafique from Szabist said that the civil administration would have a problem in making of a foreign policy because of interference from the military establishment. “Pakistan should learn from China, who have made their foreign policy on the basis of their economy. China has good relations with Saudi Arabia as well as Israel,” he pointed out.
Javeria Shujaat, a student of international relations department at the University of Karachi said that Pakistan’s social institutions were net working properly.
Humayun Khan, also from the same department at the University of Karachi, said that he could see that Pakistan was not sure about what it wanted.
Rani Omar, an assistant professor at the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, said Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan should use his fame and charm in the foreign policy area to make things easier for Pakistan.
Sadaf Shabbir, Usman Ghani and Hidayatullah of the University of Karachi, Ahmed Raza of Preston University and Ayub Khan of the Sui Southern Gas Company, who is also a member of the PIIA, also spoke on the occasion.
Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2018