Of the many things Sharif’s surrendered to boys post “dharna”, foreign policy was one of the most coveted ones. After coming to power for historic third time, Nawaz Sharif tried to pursue a policy of reconciliation and cordial relations with all immediate neighbours. This didn’t go down well with certain stake holders especially the lobby that seeks nothing but total destruction and annihilation of our eastern neighbour. As a result, the foreign policy of reconciliation has long been replaced with one full of rhetoric and slogans. This sloganeering and rhetoric has not only been limited to our eastern neighbour but western ones as well. The national think tanks saw it fit to blackmail our western neighbours into submission and as a result, today Pakistan finds itself completely isolated with India Afghanistan and Iran working to forge a long-term partnership with China also finally showing signs of fatigue on Pakistan’s strategy of using non state actors to further its foreign policy interests.

Perhaps the only ally Pakistan can confidently call an all-weather friend is China, from deploying its troops along India border to supporting Pakistan with technology training and also diplomatically; China has always been there even when the much coveted Arab Muslim “brothers” have abandoned Pakistan. China has vetoed numerous moves in the UN Security Council that have directly or indirectly implied that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism. Even recently China blocked a motion that was moved to have “Lashkar e Toiba” (LeT) listed as a terrorist outfit and hence banned. This has earned China a lot of flak from international community some going as far as claiming that China is to Pakistan what USA is to Israel, a partner in crime.

In recent weeks Pakistan has had a slight sigh of relief with India ruling out state involvement from Pakistan in Pathankot airbase attack, this news was spun and concocted as a clean chit and will be pulled out if a Pakistan based non state actor is later proven to have had a part to play as treachery on India’s part. And herein lies the problem, like all other aspects of life in Pakistan FP also lacks transparency and accountability, in recent years the problem has reached dire straits because not only is there a lack of accountability but now the establishment has a scapegoat to slaughter for its failures. Every time we avoid embarrassment whether by sheer luck or once in a while due to inapt planning of our rivals, print electronic and social media have simultaneously erupted to programmed chants of “Thank you Thank you”. Every time the going gets tough for the boys the civilian setup has been thrown under the bus for failing the country, selling Pakistan to Narendra Modi for sugar exports and God knows what. This is what has caused the rot.

Ashraf Ghani reciprocated the olive branch that was extended by Nawaz Sharif but post APS, boys decided good old diplomacy was too slow paced for their liking and decided to bully Afghanistan into submission, this has culminated into India-Afghanistan friendship dam inaugurated last week by PM Modi. PM Modi continued his trip and stopped over in Iran where a $500 Million agreement was inked for Chabahar port. This not only brings India and Iran closer financially and culturally but also provides India a mode of access to the Afghan markets. Once again we ourselves are to blame, when Iranian President toured Pakistan in March 2016 he was publically embarrassed by the tweets of a public servant whose “tweets do not necessarily reflect policy of the organisation”.

From the Kerry-Luger Bill to the recent drone strike that took out Mullah Mansoor, US Pak relations have been managed as per the whims of the boys since USA is a major defense supplier for Pakistan but conveniently enough civilian setups have been used as whipping boy be it Zardari led PPP setup in Kerry Lugar days or Sharif led PMLN setup these days. A somber press release observing the reservation of boys is conveniently released which results in 8-10 PM intellectuals having a field day. Braying at top of their voices every related unrelated fact is bundled together, fables are manufactured to prove the incompetence of the civilian setup conveniently forgetting that drones were rumored to be using Shamsi airbase and Tarbela ghazi to conduct operations in Pakistan. WikiLeaks has gone on to claim that then COAS Gen Kiyani was explicitly requesting these drone ops. High value TTP targets Baitullah Mahsud (August 2009), Qari Hussain (October 2010) Ilyas Kashmiri (June 2011) were taken out as a result of these attacks. Former COAS P Musharraf has also gone on the record multiple times (CNN, 2013 and New Yorker, 2014) to admit that Pakistan had allowed US to conduct drone attacks. Even in the after math of the drone strike the Gen Raheel Shareef continues to call the FP shots meeting delegates and touring nations (in God knows what capacity) yet a public sentiment is being engineered where Nawaz Sharif is responsible for the rot within Pakistan’s FP. The fresh drone strike seems to have broken an unspoken vow whereby Balochistan was off limits for Uncle Sam therefore the concern within the boys to somehow cow it diplomatically since shooting down a drone would shut the door for further F-16’s, military aid, coalition support fund and the much coveted US nuclear technology.

The icing of the cake, as if being completely isolated in the neighbourhood wasn’t enough, Pakistan’s long faithful ally China is beginning to show signs of fatigue on how it gets embarrassed every time in the international arena. In what is seen as a major paradigm shift Chinese state TV ran a documentary on 26/11 Mumbai attacks and named LeT as the terrorist group behind these attacks. China has long asked Pakistan to “settle its affairs” with India and stop meddling needlessly as instability in the region is detrimental to China’s one road one belt vision. For Pakistan’s own good Pakistan needs to realise that development and progress go hand in hand with peace. In our own national interest and to salvage the $ 46 Billion CPEC dream, Pakistan needs to overhaul and modernise its foreign policy mechanism on war footing. “Boys” need to surrender its control to civilians, they’ve been a resounding failure and are to blame for our complete isolation in the international arena. Boys would also be well advised to calm down and stop twisting the already obedient civil setup for operational control of CPEC. Rumour has it that on last visit by Pakistan’s military heard a clear and firm Chinese message was delivered, which read along the lines that CPEC would only be possible with a democratic setup at helm and the neighbour would only be comfortable with the forces contributing to the security aspect of the plan leaving the operations to the civilians. Perhaps Chinese experience with Musharraf was bitter enough to force a policy decision to work only with civilians.

Perhaps surprisingly for us, our neighbours are aware of the benefits of using diplomats to execute its foreign policy; this is why amongst other things Iran and India also signed a cultural agreement mentioning the cultural connection dating back to the times of emperor Darius and Humayoun respectively. Economic and defense pacts alone cannot culminate and foster a lasting relationship. Exchange programs and cultural cooperation needs to be part of the agenda when bi lateral agreements are being inked to further Pakistani interests with these countries in coming days. Pakistan needs proper diplomats to handle its diplomacy with its neighbours, its long standing allies and China, amongst other factors lack of proper lobbying might be a major factor why Pakistan lost out on the subsidised prices for F-16’s. Foreign office should be allowed to function independently, Civil- Military leadership can define the goals and objectives upon which the Foreign office needs to focus on but it should be afforded operational independence to effectively work lobby and promote Pakistan’s case. Membership of the much coveted Nuclear Supplier group can only transform into a workable reality if the establishment stops day dreaming that soldiers can be effective diplomats.