Senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Senator Sherry Rehman on Monday, decried Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) handling of the nation’s foreign policy; calling it a “flopped” policy. While the government’s performance in this term certainly hasn’t been stellar, calling it a complete flop might be going a bit too far; the PML-N has had some success in its endeavours – the CPEC project being the highlight. However, she did present an accurate and justified litany of the arenas where diplomatic relations have worsened under PML-N.

Being a member of the opposition, it was expected that the senator would be critical of the government, and overly forgiving of her own party’s problems. Despite this, her criticism must be given weight. Pakistan’s foreign policy has failed to adapt to the realignment of United States interest in Afghanistan and its growing partnership with India. The bilateral relationship with Afghanistan has also disintegrated to unprecedented hostile levels. The stagnated narrative on Kashmir, the failure to take a strong and principled stance on the Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict, and the lack of leadership initiatives in the extended Muslim world are all valid criticism. The lack of a full time Foreign Minister and increasing deference to the military in international and “security” matters can also be added to this list.

Her observations become less astute when she turned towards the solutions to these problems, and questions to how the PPP would have handled it differently. Her suggestion that Pakistan needs to “take these (Kashmir’s) issues powerfully at the international forums” is the description of the stagnated stance in the valley – this is the only constant thing the Pakistan government has been doing in the past two terms with regards to this issue. Similarly, Ms Rehman, despite being the ambassador to the United States in the PPP term, did not give suggestions on how to deal with the mercurial Trump administration.

PML-N has certainly struggled to impose its foreign policy – both domestically and internationally – and Nawaz Sharif, who held the portfolio of Foreign Minister himself, is certainly not an accomplished diplomat and or a charismatic statesman. While we can criticise the PML-N for its failures, we must remember that other major opposition parties have also not provided a clear stance on their foreign policy positions. The PPP may have handled some issues better, but it is certainly hyperbole to claim that the party would definitely fix these complex problems.