Foreign policy is dependent upon domestic policy of any country. A domestically stable country can successfully exert its influence on others; whereas, internally weak nations get easily coerced by others in international strategic environment. In Pakistan, domestic political instability have since long been affecting formulation and execution of foreign policy. Therefore, the biggest challenge for the new government on international front relates to its domestic stability which is directly proportional to foreign policy success. Domestic stability needs economic progress in the country. The incumbent government is working hard for economic prosperity. However, the external front is being neglected which is astonishing. This behaviour would further deteriorate both domestic and foreign conditions. Success can only be realised if all the stakeholders collaboratively devise comprehensive strategies to cope with the domestic as well as foreign policy challenges. This article discusses some of the foreign policy challenges for new government.
Firstly, how to normalise Pak-US relations? Pakistan-US relationship has been a roller coaster ride. It has faced many ups and downs. However, currently, both the allies of war against terror are facing new heights of divergences. Imran-Pompeo call has stirred new controversy. This poses severe challenge to the new govt. for re-establishing a mutually beneficial and productive working relationship with the US. Since, the US is an important regional and global power, her vitality for Pakistan cannot be neglected. Because, peace, stability and prosperity of Pakistan is directly linked with the conditions in the neighbouring country, Afghanistan, and the US is an important actor in Afghan war. So, if Pakistan wants (a) to consolidate her gains against war on terror; and (b) a peaceful neighbouring Afghanistan, she needs to manage her relationship with the US, which will ultimately help her in achieving the said objectives. There is no denying the fact that this relationship must be guided by national interest and mutual respect and not by the humiliation and disrespect. The recent regional realignment, wherein US- India-Japan troika has emerged to counterweigh Russia-China-Pakistan bloc, has challenged Pakistan’s foreign policy goals. If Pakistan wants to exploit its geostrategic location it has an opportunity in the shape of CPEC. For that to materialize, Pakistan should balance her relations with both the US and Russia. Though it seems unrealistic, however, history tells us that relations of a country vis-a-vis two major powers can be maintained on the basis of national interest, for example, though China is challenging the status quo of the US, despite being the competing rivals, both are engaged in bilateral trade. Similarly, India has maintained her relations with both the US and Russia on the basis of her national interest. So, Pakistan should endeavour to balance her relations with the US on one hand and Russia on the other, while keeping her national interest uncompromised. She should not have close relationship with Russia at the expense of Pak- US relations or the vice versa.
Pak-India relations are another challenge for the new government. Both the arch-rivals have gained nothing out of decades’ long animosity. Most of Pakistan’s domestic problems and issues with Afghanistan are caused by Indo-Pak animosity. The Kashmir question is core issue. Without resolving this issue a long-lasting peace cannot be achieved between the two arch-rivals. However, in the age of globalization both the countries need to work for establishing conducive environment for rapprochement. Trade relationship would build a confidence among the political elite and societies of both India and Pakistan. Such confidence building measures would create opportunities for resolving longstanding political and strategic problems. Resultantly, animosity would turn into friendship.
As regards Pak- Afghanistan relations, Pakistan wants peace in the neighbouring country and cordial relations. However, Taliban network, particularly Haqqani network, is the bone of contention. Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of supporting terrorist sanctuaries, whereas Pakistan categorically denies the Afghan allegations. There is no denying the fact that Pakistan wants peace, stability and prosperity of Afghanistan more than any other country in the region, because the goal of a peaceful Pakistan cannot be achieved if Afghanistan is not stabilised and developed. However, Pakistan wishes for a peaceful resolution of Afghan war. Since every dispute ends on a negotiated peace, therefore, Pakistan supports all peaceful initiatives for a peaceful settlement of Afghan war. The new government in Pakistan should proactively engage Afghanistan to address their grievances and establish cordial relations between the two Muslim nations.
Third, Pakistan and China are all-weather friends and iron brothers. However, if Pakistan wants to exploit her geostrategic location and develop economically, it needs to work more enthusiastically on CPEC, which is a game changer and provides opportunities for Pakistan to play an active role in the regional and global politico-strategic landscape .A successful materialisation of CPEC is another challenge for the new government.
Another challenge is how to have a good repute internationally? For that, the new government needs to work on global perception management. Pakistan’s narrative of different issues should be successfully propagated and exploited in her favour to achieve foreign policy objectives. Those objectives would never be accomplished until and unless a diplomatically vibrant foreign office is not realized.
In order to conclude, Pakistan should not rely on any one of the super powers. Instead, given geostrategic importance, Pakistan should adopt a holistic, pro-active and long-term foreign policy. For a successful foreign policy, first, Pakistan should have friendly relations with immediate neighbours. Second, it should strengthen relations with the countries that share the unanimity of views on different regional and global issues. Those include Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey. Pakistan should strengthen her relations with these countries. Third, and the most important, is to have national cohesion and unity to combat gruesome challenges and achieve foreign policy goals.
The writer is serving in Punjab Police. He holds masters in International Relations from Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. Currently, he writes in different journals and newspapers on Foreign policy and Security issues.