Patriotic Realism: An Alternative to Foreign Policy Failure?

The Foreign Office is out of ideas, and the state appears to be unwilling or unable to diverge from a failed foreign policy that has resulted in isolating the country first regionally and now globally. It’s time to look for new ideas somewhere else. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and considering where we find ourselves at this point, maybe it’s time we give a chance to some people who those who have failed us have been telling us are wrong.

A case in point is the former Ambassador Husain Haqqani. Now that we know that the ‘memogate’ fiasco was all an invented drama, we should be willing to at least listen to what he is saying. After all, the rest of the world seems to be listening to him, so shouldn’t we at least hear what he has to say?

I have to say I was surprised by this interview. After being told for so long that he is ‘anti-Pakistan’, I did not expect him to be so critical of India and especially Indian actions in occupied Kashmir. His view is patriotic, but it is also realistic. Is this the alternative we have been needing to the stubborn refusal to face reality that has brought us to this point?

Husain Haqqani is not the only ‘Patriotic Realist’. Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy has also been making similar points, providing an alternative to the status quo of ‘more of the same’ failed strategies. Like Haqqani, Professor Hoodbhoy has also be labeled as anti-Pakistan and his patriotism questioned. However if you actually listen to what he is saying you will quickly see that he has Pakistan’s interests at heart, and that his difference of opinion is only on what is the best way to protect and advance Pakistan’s interests.

We have been listening to the same voices for decades, and despite constant failure they have been unwilling to change or even listen to any new ideas. Instead, they have tried to accuse and discredit anyone who gave any alternatives to their disproven strategies. ‘Patriotic Delusions’ have only brought us disaster and isolation. Let’s at least give the ‘Patriotic Realists’ a chance to be heard.

Foreign Policy: Everything is fine

Pakistan Foreign PolicyYesterday I predicted that the state was still unwilling to do the needful to fix our current foreign policy that has increasingly moved the country into global isolation. How could I have known that I would  be proven correct only 24 hours later? According to Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan is not only not isolated, but our foreign policy is a ‘monumental‘ success!

To prove his point, PM’s Foreign Advisor listed several achievements of the foreign policy. These include CPEC and Pak-China ties (listed separately, as if they are two different things) and resumption of dialogue with US (really? US ties are a success???). However the best example given by far is “exporting labor to Middle Eastern countries”.

Abandoned laborers in Saudi

Yes, our leadership believes that their ‘monumental’ success is demonstrated by Pakistani laborers in Middle Eastern kingdoms.

Islamabad said 8,520 of its nationals in Saudi Arabia had not been receiving their salaries for several months. A foreign ministry statement said “most of the workers want to leave these companies but only after settling their dues.”

Exporting our people to work under slavery conditions is not a success of foreign policy, it is a failure of economic AND foreign policy. In other words, even our ‘monumental’ successes are actually failures. But as usual we are not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

Nawaz urged envoys to promote a positive image of Pakistan to other countries, saying the responsibility to introduce Pakistan as an emerging market rests with ambassadors, who should take up the promotion of foreign investment in Pakistan as their mission.

This is actually our foreign policy: Just keep repeating what we want to be true, no matter how ridiculous we look, and keep hoping that someday it will actually come true.

Isolation and Foreign Policy Paralysis

Narendra Modi  Xi JinpingPakistan’s unfortunate state of growing international isolation is one of the hottest topics of discussion lately. Think tanks and talk shows increasingly point to various issues such as the power of the Indian lobby compared to our own lack of lobbyists in major capitals, absence of a Foreign Minister, and the increasing role of the Army in controlling every aspect of decision making. While this is a new topic for mainstream analysts, those on the cutting edge have been trying to warn of this problem for years. Now, it is reported that the Foreign Office is trying to do something about the crisis. However, is there really any change in the works, or is it more of the same? Reports are not encouraging.

While the envoys and the Foreign Office top brass brainstorm on the problems and strategy for climbing out of isolation, it is likely that fundamental issues causing paralysis in foreign policy functioning — the absence of a full-time foreign minister, duality at the top in the FO hierarchy, diminished role of the foreign secretary, and the military’s involvement in decision making and implementation — will not be discussed, Dawn earlier reported.

We have finally come to a point that we can no longer deny our growing isolation, but fundamental issues are still off limits. What is most concerning though is that the fundamental issues which are off limits do not even include the truly fundamental questions of revising failed policies themselves.

We have reached a historic point that at least there are mainstream voices willing to admit what has been obvious since long: Our foreign policy apparatus has failed to protect or advance Pakistan’s interests. Unfortunately, it seems that we are still unwilling to do the needful to fix it.

Imaginary Friends

President Obama’s recent trip to Delhi left little doubt that after decades of viewing Pakistan as its ‘most favoured ally’, America is now pivoting towards India. Not willing to be left out in the cold, Pakistan is seeking to enhance strategic ties with old friends like China as well as new ones like Russia. This realignment is an obvious snub to America who has historically had strained ties with China and Russia, as well as an opportunity to expand military and economic ties outside of the US. However, this realignment may be little more than the latest delusion cooked up by the Foreign Office.

Pakistan-Russian relations have always been cool, and despite media reports of a growing bond between the two, facts suggest that little has changed. Just recently, Pakistan executed a Russian citizen over the objections of Russian authorities. Then, in a manner befitting a spy thriller, Russian agents carried out an operation to snatch the corpse from Pakistan.

Pakistan-China relations have been warmer, but there has always been a great amount of evidence that this was little more than show, and that behind the scenes the actual relations are much more tense than is publicly admitted. The difference between fantasy and reality has been demonstrated once again as China has backed India’s Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the United Nations (UN). The CCIT is widely seen by Pakistani analysts as targeting alleged support for jihadi groups in Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s oldest ally, the United States, is cutting aid to Pakistan again, this time by 10 per cent. We will continue to look to other countries to make up the military and economic support, but the reality is you can never get something for nothing. Until we are willing to face the reality of terrorism and extremism in our borders, we may wake up to find that our ‘friends’ existed only in our imagination.

Failed Foreign Policy Responsible For Border Tensions

Iranian mortar shells fired into PakistanPakistan is currently experiencing cross-border firing as a result of failed foreign policy. This is well known. Here is a riddle for you, though: Which border am I talking about? The sad fact is that it could be the border with India, where cross-border firing has been flaring up again at the Line of Control. It could also be the border with Afghanistan, where cross-border firing left an innocent civilian dead earlier this week. It could also be the border with Iran, where artillery fire has once again ignited. Each of these situations will be dismissed as unique crises caused by issues specific to those borders, but what other country in the world is currently suffering cross-border firing from every side? The truth is, each of these crises is rooted in a failed foreign policy that has turned our country into a hub of international terrorism.

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