Amidst these growing global challenges, every country has to tread the path of progression and successive achievements without compromising its relations with both developing and developed states for the better unification of the world. To move in this direction, every country develops its foreign policy. Through this tool, states can put their leverage and use their internal strength to achieve social, political, and economic clout. Pakistan is also one of those states that prioritise their foreign policy in every domain and consider it as a strategic weapon to weed out the economic and structural imbalances in their country. However, with the advent of notorious evils like revisionist states, which are violating the international rule-based order and the advancement of a multi-polar world, all countries are facing the perilous fallouts of such a phenomenon.
Pakistan is also in the same boat because its foreign policy has been hampered by the rising geo-political turf, global power competition, and its constant infatuation with regional security dilemmas. However, it has to tread cautiously on this horizon by maintaining balanced and de-hyphenated relationships. At its 75th celebration of independence, it is a time to introspect foreign policy challenges and potential solutions.
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One of the most observable foreign policy challenges in front of experts is the resurgence of camp politics. Camp politics, which was a constant feature of the infamous Cold War, has been growing at its breakneck pace. One can discern the divisive world easily by putting a glance over newly formed blocs between China and USA. The resurgence of Russia and its growing alignment with China is a perfect example to mention here. Similarly, the US is adamant to shed its unipolarity by supporting the nemesis of China such as Taiwan by providing constant military assistance. However, this camp politics has become a sticking point for foreign policy experts as there will be more pressure from both sides in near future to join their camps.
Another challenge to Pakistan’s foreign policy is the western powers’ romanticism with India. It is in the clear interest of the western world to contain China as a growing global hegemon. Knowing well the geo-strategic and regional importance of India in the South-Asian region, the western world wants to use it as a counter-force against china’s growing might and its secret plan to reign the world. Owing to this, India is among the favorites of Uncle Sam too and a sufficient stockpile of military and strategic assistance is being provided by it. This kind of strategic empowerment of India by the western world is a great challenge to Pakistan which thinks that India can employ such imported means to harm it.
Apart from the above-mentioned challenges, the poor indicators of the economy are also the major factor that impedes the effectiveness of the foreign policy. Establishing an independent foreign policy is in the best interest of the people. However, the countries like Pakistan with the constant economic boom and bust cycles need long-term economic assistance to extricate themselves from the default scenario.
While following the prescriptions of neo-liberal financial institutions, the domain of foreign policy has been inadvertently compromised. Similarly, a country with a poor economic outlook cannot enhance partnerships with the external world. By just looking at the value-added exports of Pakistan as the lowest in the region, one can easily confirm that the job of employing soft power tactics becomes more tedious in the presence of a severe economic downturn.
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There has also been a repeated cycle of political instability in Pakistan which had affected the continuity of foreign policy decisions. Since the birth of the country, there has been a constant circus of the ouster of national governments covertly and overtly, leaving all the major pain-staking foreign policy decisions in the lurch. Owing to this, there have been constant mood-swings in its relationships vis- a- Vis global powers like Russia and US.
Moreover, one can easily discern the dearth of think tanks and policy institutes in Pakistan whose sole task should be to play an advisory role in the augmentation of national foreign policy through a mature dialogue process and continuous monitoring and analysis of policy decisions. It can take an example from the US, which has been dubbed as the hub of think-tanks such as Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, Atlantic Council, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Woodrow Wilson Center.
After discussing all the major challenges of Pakistan’s foreign policy challenges, it is time to reflect on some potential solutions for making it more conducive to the challenges of the 21st century. First and foremost, the adoption of the geo-economic policy should be the core objective of its foreign office. Gone were the days when the grandiose strategic might was the aim of the countries; however, with the rise of China based on its economic struggle as a global hegemon, and the fall of the USSR due to a weak economy despite being a strong military power, it has become a compulsion to alter the dimensions of foreign policy and pursue them according to economic cycles.
Second, in this great power rivalry especially between US and China, Pakistan has to take a strong stance of neutrality. It needs to be understood that pursuing the de-hyphenated relationship in this multi-polar world is the only way forward to move out of camp politics, and any alignment with major power can cause an irreversible crisis in that country as happened in the past in the form of Kalashnikov culture, drug peddling, ruthless killing of civilians as collateral damage and economic halt. Thus, Pakistan can no longer afford to be part of any bloc; however, it is always ready to play a positive role in the mitigation of fierce power competition between two global powers by playing the role of mediator as it did in the 1970s when Kissinger secretly landed in Pakistan and flew afterward towards China to meet his counterpart.
Third, One can easily observe the sweeping statements of politicians and populist leaders that can harm bilateral relations with other countries. There is a need to adopt a cautious tone and conscious tenor while giving speeches in public gatherings and doing pressers. Similarly, the entourage that visits any other country must exhibit strong communication skills for better deals with their counterparts.
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Last but not least, it is necessary to find the areas of convergence. Pakistan has an important geo-strategic location that can attract Eurasian countries as well as Western Asia. Similarly, it is close to Afghanistan and has tremendous potential to play the pivotal role of a counter-terrorism agent under the ambit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization Countries such as Russia, Iran, and India. It is also blessed with plentiful natural resources and a talented pool of youth that can be utilized for global and regional development.
The writer is an independent researcher and environmentalist. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.