Pakistan has opted for pragmatic shift in its foreign policy now. It seems that it has learnt enough from its bad policy choices in past. Almost all the existing issues ranging from extremism, terrorism to serious economic crisis developed from those poor foreign policy decisions. Now, a hope is created after the administration has started to follow the right direction. At present, it has shifted its foreign policy from political to economic interests, from imposed to political settlement in Afghanistan and from relaxing to completely preventing the movement of militant in Kashmir.
The shifting of Pakistan’ foreign policy in the right direction is mentioned below:
From political to economic interest:
From the last 7 decades, Pakistan exploited its blessed geo-strategic location for political purposes rather than economic interests. Soon after the independence of the country, it allied with the US with an intention to rent its territories for money For instance, it provided Badaber base near Peshawar to the US in 1959 to carry out surveillance over the Soviet. It also got involved in Afghan war in 1979 owing to its location for foreign funding. As a result, Pakistan developed economic reliance on the foreign aids and failed to carry out any economic reform. Had Pakistan utilized its strategic location for economic purpose, it would not have faced the daunting economic challenges today.
Very recently, Pakistan has shifted its foreign policy from political to economic interest as clearly visible in its role towards China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). For the very first time, Islamabad has decided to use its strategic location for driving long-term economic benefits for the people of this country. Pakistan is, now, developing its relations with the countries based on its economic interest. It has completely given up the policy of renting its territories for the political reasons.
From imposed to political settlement in Afghanistan:
From the very beginning, Pakistan followed the policy of imposed settlement in Afghanistan with Pashtun Taliban to be the dominant power. The policy was not based on the ideological but geographical calculation. Taliban were anti-Indian and were friendly towards Islamabad. Pakistan believed that the Taliban dominant government in Afghanistan was the only way to secure Durand Line and prevent the chances of being sandwiched from Indian and Afghan border during crisis. Pakistan succeeded when Taliban formed the government in 1996 and it was among three countries that recognized their authority. However, the government of Taliban failed to curb the terrorist activities of Al-Qaeda and became the victim of American rage. Non-Pashtun of Northern Afghanistan supported the US because they were the victims of their dominant power. Thus, the policy of imposed settlement did not work for Pakistan.
Although, the US dismantled the Taliban government by invading Afghanistan very quickly, yet they were not completely defeated and engaged the US in guerilla warfare. Obama administration in 2009 decided to end the conflict through negotiation. Pakistan arranged the talks but followed the same policy of imposed settlement with Taliban being the dominant power. As a result, the representative of Taliban during the series of talks with the US acted in arrogant way. They demanded the complete withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan at once and refused to talk with the existing Afghan’s government for power sharing. They wanted to be the dominant power again. Consequently, the talks failed every time.
In a very recently concluded Doha Peace Agreement and softness in the rhetoric of the Taliban, it seems that Pakistan has shifted its foreign policy from imposed to the political settlement. The Taliban has not only agreed to accept the withdrawal of the US in installment, but also decided to negotiate with the existing Afghan’s government and other ethnic groups for power sharing. Pakistan enjoys good control over the Taliban and they always act in accordance with the interest of Islamabad during the talks. Thus, the foreign policy of Pakistan towards Afghanistan is now pointed towards the right direction and peace in Afghanistan can be witnessed soon.
From relaxing to completely preventing the movement of militants in Jammu and Kashmir:
Since 1987, members of some militant organization, like Lashkar-e-Taiba, have been entering into Indian Held Kashmir to engage in deadly conflict with the Indian military, which was unusual for the local freedom fighters, to liberate it from Indian control. As a result, the indigenous freedom fighting of the local Kashmiri people was compromised. India tried to portray the freedom fighting as a terrorist movement carried out by the Pakistani militants. The local Kashmiris also disliked the involvement of Pakistani militants because they were using barbarous tactics against the Indian military. Pakistan took the lenient view of the issue till 2001.
When the same militants carried out an attack on the Indian Parliament on 13th December 2001, General Musharraf made a speech on 12th January 2002, banned these organizations and prevented them from crossing the border.
Very recently, Pakistan has taken strict measures to completely choke their movement and it was evident from the speeches of PM Imran Khan soon after Modi revoked special-status of Jammu and Kashmir and annexed it to New Delhi. He warned people against crossing the Kashmir border. He said, “A jihad in Kashmir would be an act of enmity towards the Kashmiris.” He further said, “Anyone, who thinks that he will cross the border to join the Kashmiris, is a big enemy of them and Pakistan. Any such move on the part of individuals would help India exploit the situation, which would term it cross-border infiltration.” The government has also put the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba in house arrest and successfully eradicated its Kashmir role. Thus, Pakistan has wisely shifted its policy towards Kashmir and prevented the infiltration of militants because they were detrimental to the indigenous freedom movement of Kashmiri people.
Thus, Pakistan has wisely shifted its foreign policy in the right direction. Now, it is exploiting its blessed geo-strategic location for economic purpose, favoring political settlement in Afghanistan and completely preventing the infiltration of militants across the Kashmir border. The correction in the policy will certainly bear fruitful results for Pakistan in future and must be appreciated.