International relations are defined, nurtured and sustained by the timely application of befitting foreign policy and other tools of diplomatic norms while being cognisant of the hard realities of relationships. International relations are all about exploring diplomatic possibilities, taking fruitful initiatives and building on productive co-operations with other countries. Pakistan’s foreign policy is currently actively working on all these three counts. The ultimate aim of foreign policy is to constantly strive to obtain maximum benefits to serve national interests and enhance Pakistan’s stature in the comity of nations.

The incumbent civil and military leadership of our country is following these promising principles of foreign policy. Pakistan’s bilateral relations with its neighbours Afghanistan, India, China and Iran have implications on regional and international politics and security dimensions. Recently in the wake of change in the American diplomatic temperament for Afghanistan and its consequent condemnable “drone strike” in Pakistan soil has once again reiterated the need of a vibrant diplomacy. Right on time our civil and military leadership has unequivocally articulated and communicated to the Americans the red lines and all the impending ifs and buts of Pakistan’s foreign policy in case America revisits its policy for Afghanistan. In line with stance of the civilian government, COAS emphatically communicated to his American counterparts that sovereignty of Pakistan’s soil is inviolable. Any change in American policy of negotiations or of attacks in Afghanistan will surely call for complimentary policy lines from Pakistan.

The first and foremost priority of Pakistan’s government is reliance on peaceful, meaningful and conciliatory approach towards all fellow countries. Our civil and military leadership has duly attended to this vital security and stability challenge in the neighbouring country of Afghanistan. A peacefully stable and secure Afghanistan is not only beneficial for its own sake but is also an essential prerequisite for durable regional and international peace.

Pakistan no doubt wields effective and useful contacts with all the key stakeholders of Afghanistan. Our government and military leadership has been adequately channelising these contacts for facilitating reconciliation process between Afghanistan Government and Talibans. Years of international warfare have testified that there is no aggressive solution for the perennial dilemmas of Afghanistan. In 2015 Pakistan hosted in Muree a meeting between members of Afghanistan Peace Council and representatives of Taliban. The meeting was held in an atmosphere of mutual trust and goodwill intentions and both the parties agreed to further their peaceful efforts and cooperation for resolution of all internal and external outstanding issues. However, the talks were sabotaged by the antagonising and hostile forces with the leaked news of Mullah Omar’s demise. Pakistan Army had already cautioned the stakeholders to beware of hostile elements who intend to derail the peace process. Yet our civil and military leadership remained sincerely interested in fostering realistic, peaceful and meaningful solutions for Afghan problems. And condemnably Pakistan’s sincere peace efforts were once again sabotaged by a drone strike on Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in Balochistan. This necessitated the change in our policy towards Afghanistan which is jointly formulated by civil and military leadership. Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and our military leadership has stated that Pakistan’s policy towards Aghanistan is now clearly based on points of strict Border management, return of Afghan refugees and clear demand to Afghanistan and International stakeholders in Afghanistan for prompt actions against anti Pakistan terrorist elements in Afghanistan.

At eastern borders relations with India is as usual tricky but in the aftermath of the arrest of an Indian spy, Pakistan has taken a resolute stance that India needs to stop all intrigues aimed to destabilise Pakistan. Indian Government is silent at this blatant exposure of their hidden destabilisation agenda for Pakistan working through RAW and proxy agents. Pakistan has taken an appreciable and articulated stance yet we need to buckle up more obvious International diplomatic support to pressurise India to stop sponsoring destabilisation in Pakistan. Pakistan intends to have respectable and mutually beneficial relations with India, at the outset of his tenure Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif extended a good diplomatic gesture and took the bold initiative of visiting India. This gave a clear message to the international community and to the newly elected Government of India that Pakistan intends to foster friendly relations with the difficult neighbour. It was hoped that India will walk its talk and will sincerely move forward for peaceful resolution of all disputes including Kashmir. Yet India habitually backed out using the allegation of Pakistan’s involvement in the Pathankot attack. It is important to mention here that during investigations Indian intelligence agencies publically announced that they found no trace of Pakistan’s involvement.

Deeper into the western border, Russia and Central Asian countries are also measuring well in the government’s current foreign policy. Pakistan is promisingly marching ahead with its cooperative relation with Russia. During the tenure of this government there have been several higher level diplomatic contacts between the two countries, working actively in weighing possibilities for increased cooperation in the defence side. Russian authorities have also responded well to offer assistance to Pakistan for resolution of energy sector crisis. SCO membership with visible consent of Russia is a historically remarkable diplomatic achievement of our foreign policy. Inclusion in SCO is an acknowledgement of Pakistan’s vital contributions towards fostering peace in the region. Moreover, this has provided another platform for both India and Pakistan to discuss and formulate solutions for regional security challenges through peaceful diplomatic tools. China has surely contributed for SCO membership entitlement for both the countries.

China remains a continuous important focal point of our foreign policy. The mega project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is rightly termed as a game changer project which carries the potential to render valuable impact for the entire region. The route of CPEC will pass from all provinces and will trigger meaningful development and great economic activity. The CPEC is not merely a road route rather it is accompanied by several useful developmental projects. The varied projects proposed for CPEC have the capacity to fully utilise the rich natural resources and other potentials of the local areas along the route.

The government and our military leadership is working well to make our foreign policy productively responsive to the pulse of International relations. This will certainly enhance Pakistan’s international stature along with positively supporting economic and developmental growth of the country.