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.

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.

Continue reading