You are on page 1of 11

FOREIGN POLICY OF PAKISTAN

INTRODUCTION
1.

In the post-cold war period, the foreign policy issues have become extremely complex

and entangled. They are likely to become even more complicated and challenging in the 21 st
century. We cannot cope with them with outdated and rusted methodology. A wise and
rational foreign policy is conducted with a broad strategic design which is possible only if
there is a regular and close interaction among the politicians, bureaucrats, media, academic,
industrial and commercial interests. But at the time being like a ship caught in a raging storm
in uncharted, waters, Pakistans foreign policy appears to be rudderless. Characterised by
drift against the backdrop of a steady deterioration in the countries external environment, it
has yet to acquire the clarity and coherence to deal with the complexities of the post cold war
world as well as the challenges of globalisation.
2.

Aim. The aim of the paper is to discuss the foreign policy of Pakistan and see

weather it has been success or has definite room for improvement.

PAKISTANS FOREIGN POLICY


Background of Pakistans Foreign Policy
3.

Pakistans foreign policy has consisted of sporadic ad hoc and unfocused endeavours

lacking direction and a strategic vision of the future. The proclivity to deal with individual
issue area in isolation rather that as part of a composite picture has compounded this
incoherence. Pakistan foreign policy has been almost totally reactive to events as they took
place and very seldom have the foreign office taken an initiative of its own. The tendency
has been to deal with foreign affairs on a day to day basis. Pakistan foreign policy is made
1

piece meal in response to specific pressure without a broad strategic design. As a matter of
fact there has been no serious thinking on Pakistan foreign policy since the seventies with the
result that the foreign policy became stagnate. During the last two decades no foreign
minister of Pakistan has been able to contribute and think worth while to the foreign policy of
this country. There is no worthwhile foreign policy establishment in Pakistan or an informed
debate on the subject. The result is a policy of drift, interrupted by foreign tours by our Prime
Minister and visits to this country by foreign leaders.
4.

For the last two decades successive governments have conducted Foreign policy as if

it were an administrative matter. With the result that long-term national interest has been
sacrificed for short terms governmental gins. Our politicians are generally not conversant
with international affairs. Only few of them may have any regional, let alone global view and
vision of Pakistans role in the emerging international system. Our media cannot escape the
blame as baring one or two newspaper most of the paper devote very limited space to foreign
news and commentaries. Our electronic media performance in this respect is so poor that
most of our elites thinking is influenced by BBC and CNN. Pakistan has no foundation to
finance studies in foreign affairs. It is unfortunate that even after 50 years of independence,
the essential prerequisite for creating and neutering a foreign policy establishment a close
interaction among the politicians, bureaucrats media academic an industrial and commercial
interests is just not there.
5.

The absence of an over arching policy framework with clearly spelt out and

prioritised goals. In consequence, means have often been confused with ends, rhetoric has
substituted for policy and goals have outmatched resources.
6.

Long on nostalgia and short on substance, obsolete paradigms have yet to be replaced

with a framework that accommodates new global realities and provide the means to pursue
the countries vital interests purposefully and effectively. This has resulted in fragmentation
of the decision making process poor, and implementation of policy goals and lack of an
integrated policy to deal with a rapidly changing world. Today Pakistan faces numerous
external challenges with its foreign policy at a crucial turning point and time not necessarily

on its side. Many have argued with much justification that Pakistan is increasingly isolated in
the region and potentially marginalised in the global arena.
Pre requisites of an Effective Policy
7.

Much of the above has stemmed form the absence of an overarching policy

framework with clearly spelt out and prioritised goals. For this means should not be confused
with ends and rhetoric should substitute for neither policy nor goals should outmatch
resources. The most important per requisite at this time are to frame long-term policy
objectives in post cold war. The objectives should not be confused with its identification with
tactical and short-term consideration and also this determination on subjective criteria.
8.

There are three distant phases in the conduct of foreign policy. A formulation,

decision and execution. Though execution is the sole responsibility of the Foreign Office it
has also a role to play in the formulation and decision making process, On important and
sensitive issues the foreign office has to be allowed to give as much input as an institution at
the formulator and decision making stages. If our foreign policy is to move in the right
direction, the professional input in all the stages is as essential as the political insights.
9.

If we are to adequately cope with the fact changing cycle, strategic environment

around us and the demands of a polycentric world; the working of Foreign Office has to be
stream lined. The first prerequisite is to invigorate the policy. Planning division instead of
being a showpiece should be engaged in the planning and review of Pakistans foreign policy
in the context of the changing world situation. It should study in depth important issues and
problems facing the country, evaluate the adequacy of current policies in the light of
information based on historical research and current reports. It should also anticipate short
and long term problems, which the country may face.

In short, it should provide the

guideline and directive of Pakistans foreign policy. This division should work independently
of the other division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without being isolated from them. So
far the Policy Planning Division has served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an anteroom
for senior officers waiting for the foreign posting. Pakistan today faces major challenges in
the field of foreign policy. Our ties to major powers wielders in international arena have
3

grown perilously thin. We have to face the grim fact that at the end of the cold war we have
emerged the losers and India the winner in South Asia. As the matter of facts our post cold
war security environment bristles with developments that require major readjustment in our
foreign policy.
10.

The foremost prerequisite of our foreign policy is to understand that as a sovereign

nation we neither have permanent friends nor permanent enemies but only permanent
interests.
11.

The transformed realities of the post-cold war era are of course not new to Pakistan.

Other countries in the neighbourhood and elsewhere, have also had to make wrenching
reorientations. Pakistan should make an effect to isolate the domestic political instability
and the chief executives should give attention to foreign policy and should be able to provide
political direction to the ministry, which has to do policy formulation with other agencies and
departments.
Foreign policy goals.
12.

A cursory survey of regional and global changes and dynamic underscores the

situation in which Pakistan finds itself, is list. It is an indicative in which Pakistan foreign
policy has to be framed and conducted.
(a)

In the post-nuclear explosion era special relationship with the US, with

military and economic sanctions stills in place. Growing Indo US relations induce the
opening of a strategic dialogue designed to remove irritants in the security/ nuclear
sphere.
(b)

Deteriorating situation in occupied Kashmir ensuring From Delhis use of fore

and electoral fraud to quell the uprising, as well as growing international indifference
even fatigues. Pakistans inability to translate the early rigour and strength of the
Kashmir insurgency into a political advantage to press for a just settlement.

(c)

Growing conventional arms asymmetry between Pakistan and India

accompanied by increased Indian nuclear and Missile activism.


(d)

Revived and reinvigorated Indo Russian political and military collaboration.

A consequence of this being the persistence of the Indian veto on


Russian arms sales to Pakistan. But Islamabad Failure to open a new chapter in
relations with Russia, despite a promising start in the early days of the Yellsin
Presidency, probably has more to do with Russian misgivings about Pakistan Afghan
Policy.
(e)

Pakistans relations with China being affected by more pragmatic policies

being persuade by Beijing regionally and globally.


(f)

Significant progress in Sino India normalisation. This has provided Delhi with

a significant peace dividend to project in its rivalry with Pakistan.


(g)

Prolonged turmoil in Afghanistan creating instability on Pakistans western

border and blocking Pakistans Central Asian initiatives.


(h)

Perceptions

of

Pakistans

identification

with

the

Taliban

causing

unprecedented strains (along with sectarian violence) in relations with Iran and with
virtually all the Central Asian Replicas (CARs) Delhi manipulating these perceptions
of Pakistan Afghan Policy to isolate it in the region.
(j)

New political space opened up in the region by the designees of the Soviet

Union becoming an arena for new power games - dramatised by the Central Asian oil
rush - by regional and extra-regional states including Iran, Turkey, India, China,
Russia and the US.
(k)

Emerging Sino Russian rapprochement described by both as a strategic

partnership - that includes consensus on containing Islamic fundamentalism in the


region.
5

(l)

Indian efforts to evolve, partly by so called Gujral Doctrine, a system of

benign hegemony over other South Asian states, and their de facto acceptance of
this.
13.

The complex challenges posed by these developments do not lend themselves to ad

hoc approaches. The continuing absence of a consistent and coherent foreign policy agenda
with clear demarcation of short and long term goals will only compound Pakistans
difficulties. To evolve and define such a policy framework requires first, the recognition that,
externally important strategic transitions are underway and domestically the country is
grappling with a financial crisis.
Pakistan National Objectives in terms of Foreign Policy
14.

The most critical national objective which Pakistan must achieve in the near terms in

a period of strategic flux and economic difficult must surely be. The countries economic
revival, preservation of its strategic capabilities to external aggression, and a regional
environment, which Islamabad should seek, to shape by contributing to the lowering of
tensions.
15.

In the absence of economic recovery all other goals are rendered meaningless. An

economic collapse would gravely imperil Pakistan Security Systems. Yet Pakistan ability to
devote its energies to economic revival becomes possible in conditions where it is confident
of deterring any threat of external aggression domination (from India) and by reduced
tension, especially in its neighbourhood to the west.
16.

The realisation of these core and interdependent objectives indicates what Pakistan

foreign policy priorities and the focus of its diplomatic endeavours should be. They relate to
China, managing tensions with India without diluting the commitment to Kashmir, staying
the course of stabilising and re-crafting relations with the US, mending ties with Iran, and
accommodating the interests of the other regional states in Afghanistan to promote a durable
peace.
6

Pakistans Regional /Global Standing


17.

Keeping the above objective in mind we will now see one by one how they affect

Pakistan and what is its present standing.


(a)

Ties with China.

Pakistan trade ties with China has been stagnant while

Indias has grown rapidly. While people to people exchanges remain remarkably low
with a country so close to Pakistan, geographically and politically. The passing of the
older generation of Chinese leaders will further dilute the bonds, which were
essentially forged during the decades of Chinas isolation. It is a measure of Beijings
steadfastness that despite obvious difficulties, it has preserved its relation with
Islamabad even in the face of US pressure on proliferation issue. But the growing
pressure on China and its open policies towards other countries in the region compels
Pakistan to reconsider its stand and help China gain confidence that is being lost due
to our lack of a concrete foreign policy.
(b)

Tensions with India. The most challenging test for Pakistan foreign policy is

dealing with India. The factors are as fallow.


(i)

The central issue is of Kashmir. The resumptions of talks with Delhi

after the nuclear explosions has been a diplomatic move in the right direction.
But this has largely been dictated by the need on both sides to project an air of
reasonableness to the international community. From the round of talks and
several summit meeting that have taken place so for it is evident that the
priorities and positions of the two countries on almost all issue on the agreed
agenda remain diametrically opposed.
(ii)

Meanwhile with India behaviour in Kashmir unchanged, Pakistan will

need originality of thought and action to deal with the predicament of low to
pursue normalisation against the backdrop of a worsening situation for the
Kashmir movement.
7

(iii)

As the Indo Pakistan exchanges at the recent talks have indicated,

bilateral talk are likely to be sustained but more is response to international


expectations than anticipation of any breakthrough or substantial results
emerging from the process. The BJP governments stabilisation after the
explosion has added new complications to the talks.
(iv)

The most important outcome of the dialogue could well be the

evolution of formal or informal understanding of how this difficult and crisis


prone relationship can be managed despite the existence of disputes in a
nuclear environment.

From this perspective the most prudent diplomatic

course for Pakistan would be to use the talks as principally a tension


management vehicle rather than a problem solving exercise (Since solutions
are only available on unilateral India terms).
(v)

Given future uncertainties and Indian inflexibility on Kashmir,

incremental progress in reducing tension, is for the time being, the only
feasible near terms goal. Meanwhile the resilience of the Kashmir movement
will have to rely on more than just rhetoric from Pakistan leaders. nor can
outburst of moral pique serve as substitute for astute diplomacy.
(c)

Ties with the US

In this unipolar moment in world history, Pakistan like

other countries is obliged to maintain relations with the US, which are as friction free
as possible. They have the following points.
c
(i)

At present Pakistan US relations roughly resemble what they were in

1977-79 lacking any real substance and in search of a new defining purpose.
The Brown amendment and other US gestures such as the resumption of OPIC
operations had helped to normalise relations. But after 28 May 1998 again the
crises has worsened.

(ii)

The importance of the Pak US relationship for Islamabad in the post

cold war period flows in large parts from the increased US focus on functional
issues. This is reflected in Washingtons proclivity to penalise countries for
the new international sins: Nuclear proliferation, terrorism, human rights
violations, child labour and so on. Pakistan needs to make efforts to remain
among the virtuous. There is room to build ties in other spheres. Indeed the
substantive content of future relations will increasingly derive from expanding
economic and commercial collaboration and encouraging larger private
investment flows. Pakistan goals of economic recovery should also intensify
efforts to galvanise US commercial and investor interest.
(d)

Ties with Iran. Given the reality of persistence of troubled relations with its

eastern neighbour Pakistan has a strategic compulsion to maintain friendly ties with
Iran and Afghanistan both complex and often difficult neighbours. With Iran the issue
of sectarian violence in Pakistan has exacerbated stains over Afghanistan. This has
transformed close friends into a suspicious neighbour at a time when Irans Central
Asian ambitions pose a challenge to Pakistan diplomacy. Persevering and rebuilding
friendship in the changed dynamics of regional competition for influence in resource
rich Central Asia.
(e)

Afghanistan/Central Asian Republics.

Multiple often conflicting goals

pursued by Pakistan in Afghanistan and amateur execution of policy have left


Islamabad not just diplomatically isolated but confronted with the sharpening are of
antagonism in the region. Pakistan has chosen to closely identify its self with a
commit diplomatic support to an obscurantism regime that, despite controlling two
third of the country has failed to either establish peace or create even the semblance of
a modern functioning government. This has entailed heavy diplomatic costs for
Islamabad - straining this with Iran, most of the CAR, and Russia virtually all of
whom have been backing the anti Taliban opposition. But above all this costly policy
has failed to yield Pakistan any peace dividend. Pakistan Afghan policy has also
undercut the countries declared goal to make Central Asia the new frontiers of its

diplomacy reducing its plans to participate in the Central Asian oil and gas rush into a
pipedream.

Success and Failure


18.

Keeping the Aim of this paper, in mind and analysing what has been written about

Pakistan Foreign Policy, it can be seen that, it has not been bed of roses at all. In fact we have
to come out of it with a lot of hard work and dedicated effort. At this movement and example
may not be out of place to understand the emphases paid on the foreign policy by Pakistan
and our rival India. When the Pressalar amendment was passed by congress it was not an
over night affair but it took India lobby three long years and since it was first put to the
congress for approval and all this while what did to the foreign office diplomatic do about it
practically noting on the other hand when the Brown amendment was approved the Indians
sent packing the entire top slot of their embassy in the United State of America for
incompetence.
19.

Our foreign policy has been almost totally reactive to events as they take place and
very seldom have we seen the Foreign Officer taking an initiative of its own. The
tendency has been to deal with foreign affairs on a day to day basis. There has
been no serious thinking on Pakistan foreign policy since the days of Zulfiquar Ali
Bhutto with results that the Foreign Policy has begun to stagnate. There is today
no worthwhile foreign policy establishment in Pakistan or an unformed debit on
the subject. Our sole objective after 28 May 1998, is how not to default and get
America to help us. We have to face the grim fact that at the end of the cold war,
we have emerged as the loser and India the winner in South Asia. As a matter of
fact our post cold war security environment bristles with development that require
major readjustments in our foreign Policy.

10

CONCLUSION
20.

In the post cold war period the Foreign Policy issue have become extremely complex

and entangled. They are likely to become even more complicated and challenging in the 21 st
century. We cannot cope with them with outdated and rested methodology. So many new
factors like economics, science and technology, environment, drug, terrorism and the
almighty market have intruded into the once pristine realm of Foreign Policy. The basic
objective of a foreign policy should be to Safeguarding of national sovereignty territorial
integrity, economic prosperity and welfare of the people. These aims cannot be achieved it
policy is conducted piecemeal on ad hoc basis sacrificing long term national interests for
short term grains.
21.

The movement of truth for Pakistans foreign policy has arrived. To chart a new

course requires first the mobilisation of all the intellectual resources at our command to
undertake a fundamental rethinking and review purpose fully and imaginatively in the face of
a world that is changing so readily characterisation. Second to set down clear goals and
identify the resources and people to be deployed to implement policy consistently and with
determination.

Finally these policy goals should be debated openly to have the public

consensus that alone can give such objectives legitimacy and national consent.

11