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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Here’s why Pakistan is unable to become a super power

Despite having a robust foreign policy, Pakistan finds it difficult to maintain regional dominance. This is due to a number of factors that damage Pakistan both internally and externally.

We are witnessing a new Pakistan. Post pandemic, we are watching the rise of a powerful nation, more united and more vigilant. Pakistan is creating waves across the globe as a country with a well-executed ‘action plan’ on climate risk and mitigation, inter-nation coordination on health care, trade, and combating financial crime.

But even with a robust foreign policy mandate and having the world’s fifth or sixth-largest army, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is struggling to maintain regional dominance.

Read more: US recognizes Pakistan as emerging regional power

The recent bomb blast in Quetta was an act of aggression funded by an external enemy. Every time there are internal peaceful developments, external threats are activated. The nation today is dominated by its Sunni population and a significant Shia minority making it the 6th most populous country in the world.

We are a nuclear power with a nuclear stockpile but that alone cannot safeguard our interest within the region as a prominent Muslim Nation unless we review our “state within a state” policy. We need to reduce our vulnerability as a safe haven for proxy wars led by outside Muslim nations.

Read more: Why Pakistan has the most feared nuclear weapons program in the world

Role of hidden foes

Then there are other Non-Muslim nations like India, China, Germany, Russia, and the United States wielding influence and funding proxies in and out of the country pitting the country against the India-Israel nexus.

The war on terror magnified the Armed Forces while economically crippling the local population due to reduced labor force opportunities globally. Post pandemic, we are facing a similar challenge with a recessive trend and a shrinking job market.

Read more: Pakistan not creating enough Jobs for it’s Graduates

Financial crime, poor border controls, weak immigration policy, and a crumbling legal justice system are a dark spot on the country. Due to this, non-friendly states like Israel and India have managed to infiltrate our system and have damaged our economic and security measures with the help of our own people.

These hidden foes are usually disguised as friendly opposition or even friendly partners. Under the radar, Pakistan is a victim of changes with the freedom of the press being under constant threat of being completely ransacked by the corrupt elite mafia and the legal remedies reducing their influence.

Read more: Freedom of Press in Pakistan under threat from multiple fronts

The legal system has fallen to corruption making us vulnerable on the inside. Deception and deflection remain on the rise, weakening the already destabilized justice system.

A failed approach to governance

Though our crime rate has recently subsided, organized crime continues to flourish due to one of the lowest conviction rates in the world.

In the case of financial crime, very little has been done by law enforcement agencies, courts, policymakers, and the government in general as seen in recent years, with the public seemingly obligated to remind the government that promises are not made to be broken.

Read more: NAB investigation on NICVD’s financial affairs takes a new turn

The press is easily influenced as thugs and goons own TV media today as talk show hosts are seen running a paid-political agenda- without state intervention.

Legally, we stand nowhere as long as the perpetrators of financial crime are given constitutional cover and legal protection which is illegal.

Under a previous government in 2008, there was a moratorium enforced where no one was put to death. This approach is counter-productive as it cripples the system. The red flags are ignored and security risks heightened.

Read more: Imran Khan: Death penalty for raping kids

Reputational risk remains a threat to the country as globally we are labeled as an unsafe country as the general global public feels unsafe. This is not because there is a civil war on the streets.

It is because one does not know the difference between the criminal and a peaceful citizen- as most of them roam free. The rapes do not stop and the kidnapping does not stop. This kind of system makes the government underpowered and dependent on the armed forces for ensuring law and justice. It is a failed approach to governance by all means.

Read more: Sex Related offences need overhaul of justice system

How the enemy operates

Here is how the enemy operates. Firstly, they create internal territorial disputes within the local community which is usually done to create a diversion over the bigger anti-state agenda. This brings a rise to sectarian violence in the country and destabilizes the economic pathway.

Secondly- bribery is a way of life in Pakistan. It is easy to bribe people in Pakistan and oil-rich nations to deploy liquid dollars and other negotiable instruments to lure greedy politicians, generals, and bureaucrats to work against their own national interests.

Read more: Morality doldrums: the galling truth of Pakistan

Lastly, clarity of law must be defined. If we are an Islamic republic, then we should have constitutional amendments that highlight the rule of law and the same should reflect in our foreign policy.

For example, we should not be sending peace mission troops to countries that are raging war on other small innocent nations who are unable to defend themselves against heavy military might and high-tech weapons. We must not stand with the enemy.

Read more: Pakistan major contributor in UN peacekeeping missions for 6 decades: Maleeha Lodhi

Our failure

In 1948, the creation of Israel was made to ensure absolute control within MEA and SAR regions and also to counter Pakistan.

Eventually, the greater route to global hegemony by some superpowers ensured a deeper conspiracy as was seen during the fall of Dhaka in 1971, the post 9/11 wars, the Syrian war crisis, and Iranian sanctions which led to many Arab nations becoming US allies, isolating the lesser rich Muslim nations.

Read more: Great power competition in Middle East-US dominance at stake?

Close analysis also highlighted the Sunni Saudi Arabia wielding power inside Pakistan as compared to the SHIA Iran, tilting the balance of power. The only thing they underestimated was China.

While ties with communist China gained traction, we failed to unite with Iran and capitalize on our common foe- Israel. Here, India took advantage of us and began anti-state ops inside Pakistan via Iranian borders.

Read more: Op-ed: the India-Israel nexus and its implications for Pakistan

Motive gives us clarity. Why did these nations succeed in gaining control over our nation? That is because of weak leadership.

If a nuclear nation has a corrupt, insecure, and overly ambitious leader, he or she will serve his own self-interest over the sovereignty of the nation. Why are our allies like KSA, USA, UK tilting more towards India? It is because they have strategic financial and political interests in India.

Read more: With China menacing India’s northern borders, India looks for military allies.

A recent example is a ban on travel from Pakistan to the UK, citing COVID19 as the reason whereas the entire world knows that putting Pakistan on the Red-list was a political move by an imperial nation to please allies like Israel and India.

A lot needs to change

Saudi oil works as an effective weapon against Pakistan, granting them favors in the region against Iran and China. Arabs in general do not want us to have financial freedom as it reduces their ‘Muslim’ influence within the region.

CPEC was never something they ever wanted or will ever. The rise of Gwadar port would mean huge trade losses on sea routes ports in Dubai and Muscat. This also gives the edge to Iran over the State of Hurmuz.

Read more: CPEC: China’s drawn-out strategy to outwit the US

Our “might is right” policy must change. Recently, the government has refocused on areas like better governance, stronger legal actions, and greater public facilitation against crimes- whether its property rights, healthcare, social welfare, education institutions, or the justice system.

We are becoming a morally tolerant nation today. Sooner than later, the state has to nevertheless take a serious step towards protecting the public against financial corruption, nepotism, moral decay, and brutal crimes against humanity.

Read more: How Pakistan’s political leaders failed Quaid-e-Azam

Until a brutal crime is matched by brutal punishments, the enemy inside will continue to conspire against the country and the enemy at the gates will win.

The author writes on IR, Governance & Public Policy. He is the Director of an advocacy institute and renowned media broadcaster. He tweets @zeeshan82445998. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.