PAK-UK relations and need of a strategic shift

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Kofi Annan While addressing to a public gathering said, “You can do a lot with diplomacy, but with diplomacy backed up by force you can get a lot more done”.  So therefore diplomacy and diplomatic ties have a lot more to offer if been practiced in an effective way for engraving positive results.  Pakistan has always given immense importance to its relations with other Nations around the world which shows the commitment to build and enhance cooperation being part of its foreign policy. United Kingdom has a long deep history which shows clear association with the sub-continent. Pakistan remained a British colony until the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Pakistan and UK both are members of the Commonwealth of Nations as well as United Nations.  President Ayub khan paid a visit to England in 1966 whereas the queen of Britain Elizabeth II and head of commonwealth paid a state visit to Pakistan in 1997. During the post-independence migration from Pakistan to England specifically during 1950’s and 60’s, over 1.1 million British people are of Pakistani descent. The UK’s association to Pakistan is both thoughtful and long-standing and there is a diversity of British connections to Pakistan by virtue of both history and family ties. There is also, a skillful and far-reaching Pakistani lobby, many of whom are wealthy and some of whom constitute an important or perhaps even decisive political constituency in some marginal’s. What happened during the initial period soon after the independence of Pakistan with regards to its relations with United Kingdom has been an evident phenomenon. These relations have been improved with the passage of time and no doubt the diplomatic fronts have had been the actual engraver of these ties in every niche.  Since 2001, the security strategy towards Pakistan by the British government has been changed according to the happenings and prevailed scenarios. In December 2004, UK government has clearly told the world that Pakistan and UK both are sharing close strategic connections and are a crucial ally in the ‘war against terror’, therefore in December 2006, a long-term Development Partnership Agreement was signed between the both countries. As a result, the assistance to Pakistan doubled, from £236 million for the period 2005- 2008 and up to £480 million for the period 2008–2011. UK-Pakistan ties are positioned in an impartially narrow band of diplomacy and military relations. There is definitely strategic dependency on both sides. Pakistan does not carry the baggage of post-colonialism in dealing with London. Its state functionaries are friendly and very associated with the UK. London is nearly a second home for Pakistanis. Around 1.2 million British of Pakistani origin are part of politics in northern England, and even other places, make it important for UK’s politicians to be concerned about Pakistan. The war on terror in Afghanistan and the terror attack in London in 2005 also played a role in bringing the two militaries and intelligence agencies together. For the UK, Pakistan is important to keep itself protected.

Generally speaking, Britain has kept up presences in South Asia without needing to ‘shift’, the frequently wheeled out term in the phraseology of foreign policy experts. However, perceptions about Britain’s role in South Asia have altered. Pakistan and the UK not only share historical associations from the time of British Raj but also continue to be politically and economically linked due to the existence of a large Pakistani diaspora community in the UK. Still, the British-Pakistani relationship discussion desires to move beyond these areas and both countries require to establish a relationship that aids their respective political and strategic interests. Imran Khan’s government has managed to perform comparatively well in the foreign affairs arena.

Imran Khan has a distinctive personal association with the heart of British political and social life and British engagement with the incumbent government ion Pakistan can enable these bilateral connections. Already, the current government in Pakistan has been instrumental in facilitating the country’s visa management making it relaxed for British tourists and travellers to visit Pakistan. This aspect can only be completely exploited once high-level official visits are exchanged and a thoughtful political dialogue begins between the two governments. Irrespective of this particular variable, it is geopolitics that determine engagement between countries. Within West Asia and the Middle East, Chinese influence is on the rise. Certainly, the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, is one of the leading projects of the Belt and Road Initiative. Furthermore, Chinese influence and security partnerships have been on the rise in Central Asia. The US planning withdrawal from Afghanistan have implications for the politics and regional security of the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. This scenario is a push for UK to look to rise its relevance in this part of the world. Pakistan is the most desirable hub for this strategic shift and long standing relations with the UK.

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