Foreign policy and the vibrant Pakistan

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In modern times no state can shun participation in the international sphere. This involvement must be systematic and based on some well-defined principles. The principle and the reason of a state are reflected in its foreign policy. The significance of foreign policy is established widely and it essentially defines a state’s approach towards the other states. The diplomacy, national power, balance of power, culture, military power, and economy are the key ingredients of foreign policy. Foreign policy is the master plan that has strategies of defending national interest in the milieu of international arena. In this age of globalization and inter connectedness of nation states, vibrant foreign policy is the need of hour in order to endure the lashes of globalization on one hand and enjoy its perks on the other. Every country pursues her foreign policy in accordance with her national interests. These interests depend upon a number of factors like cultural and historical traditions, geography, economic and political objectives. But in this medley of interests there often is an overriding objective which is not based purely on rational considerations. Every country has a ruling passion in her foreign policy. When one calls it a passion, one is not suggesting that this is something entirely emotional or irrational. It may be based on genuine fears and hatreds which have accumulated over the years and which may be intertwined with material and religious considerations. Pakistan is no exception to this. Now while having a glimpse of the foreign policy under the current government When Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office in August 2018, Pakistan-United States relations were at a low point following the Trump administration freezing aid over Pakistan’s failure to take decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the Modi government had been working to isolate Pakistan internationally, and relations with Kabul had devolved into each country accusing the other of failing to address cross border militancy. Meanwhile, some expressed uncertainty over the future of Sino-Pakistan relations due to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s criticism of corruption in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. But despite multiple challenges and apprehensions PTI Government has done well to strengthen ties with historic allies including China and Gulf countries, and begun rebuilding trust with the United States through cooperation in Afghanistan. Relations with India, however, remain a challenge for Pakistan’s foreign policy, particularly given setbacks after New Delhi revoked Jammu & Kashmir’s special status. Khan’s administration wanted to reset United States-Pakistan relations, which had been frosty for a while. However, relations began to turn with a visit to Pakistan by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in September 2018 and another a few months later by Senator Lindsey Graham, as the American desire to end the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan became a natural starting point for renewing the United States-Pakistan relationship. As the United States negotiated with the Taliban, Pakistan helped facilitate the Afghan peace process by bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. In return, Pakistan did not receive any tangible reciprocity from the United States at first, but the tide has started turning later. Khan’s calls for shifting the focus of CPEC from large-scale projects to agriculture, job creation, and foreign investment may have impacted his first trip to China in November 2018 during which, despite signing 15 memorandums of understanding (MOUs), he was unable to secure immediate financial support from Beijing. Despite the perceived failure of Imran Khan’s first China visit, Beijing later proposed various streams of bailout packages and investment to Islamabad, meant to expand areas of CPEC cooperation. In December 2018, officials from both countries met to broaden the scope of CPEC into areas including agriculture and socio-economic development, as earlier proposed by Khan. One major difference between Imran Khan as prime minister and his predecessor is Khan’s independence and his strong will power. Imran Khan appeared to suggest that he would like to see Pakistan play a possible peacemaker role in the Middle East: that whatever Pakistan could do, it would try to help ease tensions in that region. Last but not the least, under the current Government both military and civilian leadership are on the same page without any further doubt and the way foreign policy has evolved over the past year, there is little reason to distrust that.

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