As Pakistanis one of our biggest problems is identifying the issue at hand due to the excessive flux of problems we struggle to float above. Inevitably so, the global strategic environment hinders upon geopolitics, and recent history has only intensified the dependency of affairs on the aforementioned. Wouldn’t it all be made more convenient if Poland could move from its position to a location near Britain in northern Europe as it enjoyed sea protection from previous hostilities, Estonia could move near Ireland and avoid internal devaluation similar to the new neighbour by switching strategies away from excessive depreciation and borrowing, Western Ukraine moving in place of Poland to border Germany and force it to take its European integration much more seriously, moving Switzerland below Norway so Norway could enjoy having another non-EU neighbour. But that’s where geography proves to play a central role in politics, its fixed and hence has to be dealt with as given.

Pakistan’s indicted with issues with a geopolitical base as well. Being stuck in quandary of the up and down sides of geopolitics, we’d have to address them both.  Pakistan displays itself besides the Middle East as an oil beneficiary, bordered by threats from east and west, and lying below its umbrella known as China.

Pakistan enjoys the ever so celebrated beneficial relations with China as the country emulates the roll of a guardian angel for us. However, regardless of having a relationship which is worldwide known to be deeper than the oceans and higher than the Himalayas, Pakistan has not exploited the relationship for political or economic benefits. Lately though, these ties brought forward the recent birth of the China-Pakistan economic corridor which would bring in investment worth 46 billion dollars in the predicted time span of another 15 years. What’s to notice isn’t just the peak of our relationship, but the non-vacillated consistency. There hasn’t been any dramatically sticking issue with the United States regardless of their generous engagement with India for a civil nuclear deal and market focused interests.  Call it ignorance or call it politics, seems to shape out relations better for us. With the grant of a GSP Plus status to Pakistan from the European Union by an adulating 406 member votes in favour, the international market expresses its confidence in Pakistani goods and Pakistan.

Pakistan continues assuming a wary role when it comes to global issues such as narcotics, human rights etc. Let it be due to deliberate efforts of remaining in the backseat or the deferment of these areas in the international system.

Regionally, ever since the retreat of the United States from Afghanistan, religious militancy’s theme of foreign threat has been deflated leaving their reason for pernicious operations without any base and consequently creating some space in the ever so dreaded war or terror. This came hand in hand with Ashraf Ghani’s new government in Afghanistan expressing intentions for sincere and honest connections with Pakistan to deal with mutual problems in an intrepid manner. Therefore, reducing militancy to a controllable level in the region. Certainly a strategic opportunity.

As far as India is concerned, we’ve incontrovertibly held onto our historic differences and built our relationship on them, which might also be the reason for cold linguistic wars between the two nations and hence Modi was criticized by Pakistan. However, neither of the two countries has actively taken an aggressive role which, seems to be within the manageable spectrum.

The recent meetings between the very loquacious foreign ministers of Iran and the P5+1 concluded with a nuclear deal and a break free for Iran from its nuclear sanctions. This deal implied regional developments for Pakistan as well. As the 120 billion rupees which were free frozen now become uncapped and international oil companies rush to enter Iran, the country will economically boom and widen the possibility of the construction of the Iran-Pak pipeline which was once put to a stop. As oil reliance increases and prices decrease, Pakistan will be the first to benefit from these outcomes due to its neighbouring position. However, Pakistan needs to remain on light feet as other Arab countries which have kept close ties with Pakistan, such as Saudi Arabia, remains suspicious about Iran.

This brings us to the fault lines in the picture.

The intentions of a militant group such as Al Qaeda – now transforming into ISIS – TTP, and TTA will remain a conundrum for all of us and we can only assume the irrational agenda it has noted down.  But what we can assure ourselves is of ISIS’s interest in our region for recruits. Following the disintegration of Al-Qaeda, some joined ISIS while some did not however ISIS failed to gain acceptability in Afghanistan which motivated it to stretch it efforts to enter into splinter groups of Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Another prediction holds the possibility of those effected by Zarb e Azb to be tempted by the militant organization, whether for vengeful purposes or similar mentalities. The recent development of Mullah Omer’s willingness for talks with the Afghan government is because of ISIS as an emerging threat and successful Zarb-e-Azb in Pakistan. All this provide a strategic space to Pakistan. Now how do we capitalise on this?

Hold on, let’s have a look at the domestic front.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb sights its end but is nowhere near consolidation. IDPs return and an effective system for governance in place are what will lead to a successful end state. Baluchistan still simmers despite Army’s efforts to enrol Baloch soldiers and education facilities. Government fails to find a permanent solution to the militancy and sectarian war in Baluchistan as the people of the province dimly hold onto the hope of true governance. The politically sponsored urban warfare situation in Karachi finds its routes into the deepest level crimes. No tangible improvements in governance as political parties remain in turmoil of what is just and what is not, who deserves power and who does not, what is power meant for and what is it not meant to coast, while the people of the country desperately pray for a beacon of hope. The energy crisis does not just continue but soars higher with every day as the government fails to meet pre-election vows (read: lies), and Pakistan gets a daily glimpse of the Stone Age. We proudly remain the country that spends the lowest proportion of its GDP to education, because education falls below the Metro Bus on the priority list. Our Prime Minister’s speech in Norway notwithstanding.

What strategic measures will be needed by our government to overcome contumacious hurdles so we can go beyond celebrating the existence of a faulty democracy? Should we continue blaming political adversaries as the basis of all problems or recognize the dirt dipped politics and exploit the geographical bounties to their best? Should we not turn to the well aware youth rather than increasing our dependency on the feudal system? All of this will depend on governance and governance is what’s currently static in improvement. Should our priorities such as education, development and safety not be put into place above power and power driven interests? And for once should politics not be for betterment rather than electoral wins?