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تاریخMay 26, 2020

Global Power Dynamics and Pakistan’s Foreign Policy

Khalid Talat

19th century has witnessed a multipolar order of the world, where, European powers were dominating world affairs. England, France, Germany, Russia, etc, had a powerful military and exceedingly growing economy. Due to the imperialistic approach of European powers, most of the world was under their control. Intense colonization by European regimes led to World War I, which resulted in the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Britishers conspired with the help of their allies to dissipate the Caliphate of the Ottoman Empire. The European powers ruled over the world until World War II.  After the bloody war, the world had shifted to bipolarity in which, the United States and Russia emerged as the new superpowers. The superiority of American and Russian technological warfare equipment played a great role in creating a hegemonic role for them. Thus, began the era of the cold war that has devastated the world for almost five decades. New states emerged after the decolonization by war-torn European powers. The economies of European powers were destroyed in the war, and they were unable to hold on to their colonized regions, thus, they started the process of decolonization. Both Russia and America tried their level best to make alliances with the newly independent states to strengthen their dominancy. The cold war era wrecked the peace of the world, as we have seen various wars, in which, both superpowers were directly or indirectly involved. Nuclear proliferation surged, where, both superpowers competed to gain superiority on the number of nuclear weapons. The defeat of Russia in Afghanistan was the cornerstone of the discontinuation of the cold war. After the disintegration of the USSR, America gained full superiority over world affairs. The dissolution of the USSR paved the way for unipolarity, in which America has become the sole superpower.

The 21st century is being seen as the decline of the unipolar world and the rise of a new world order. The economical development of China and the blunders did by the USA, have weakened the foundation of unipolarity. The irresponsible actions of the US, like the Iraq war, have forced the world to look for better options.

Since independence, Pakistan has been struggling in maintaining a balanced relationship between the west and the emerging Asian powers. It has been, however, a difficult task for the past governments to devise independent foreign policy due to its security and economic conditions. Due to bad and corrupt governance by the previous political leaders, Pakistan is facing economic turbulence, which the international lobbies used to gain mastery over Pakistan.

As a member of the United Nations, Pakistan respects all the sovereign states and has not intended to involve in the domestic affairs of a state, until or unless it harms the sovereignty and security of Pakistan. The constitution of Pakistan has directed to uphold basic human rights, as also mentioned in the UN charter. Pakistan has always invited its rival counterparts for diplomatic solutions to avoid any unnecessary confrontations.

So far, Pakistan has been successful in maintaining a positive relationship with the west due to its geo-strategic location. Although there is a trust deficit between Pakistan and the west and both blame each other for duplicity, but, both are also working continuously in collaboration, against the threat of terrorism. Also, Pakistan has been given the role of mediator in the Afghan peace process by America, which is a positive sign of relationship.

Pakistan’s foreign policy has changed over time due to the shift in the global order. The rise of China and Pakistan’s partnership in CPEC irritated the western powers. China is emerging as an economic and military power in the world stage, which the USA perceives as a threat for its dominancy. China and the USA are currently in a confrontation course of the trade war, and Pakistan is playing neutrality because it cannot afford to face any conflict with the USA. Pakistan has historic and strategic military ties with the USA, and still, Pakistan remained an essential military intelligence partner with the USA, in the war against terrorism. On the other hand, China has an economical partnership with Pakistan. Both countries are indulged in strengthening economical ties via various projects. CPEC is an invaluable project in developing a hardcore binding between both countries. Pakistan has been exhausted due to war on terrorism, as this war has cost billions of dollars to the economy, and worse, thousands of precious lives were lost amid the war. Due to those circumstances, Pakistan restructured its foreign policy to enhance economic prosperity rather than engage in military conflicts. The incumbent government of Pakistan conveyed the message to the world that it will not become a part of any war, but rather emphasize on diplomatic solutions. Pak-China friendship is historic, as both countries have strong economic and military ties with each other. China has always supported Pakistan’s stand on the Kashmir issue and also helped Pakistan in the FATF situation. Pakistan has suffered huge losses due to its partnership with the West, but now, with the collaboration of Asian powers, Pakistan is moving towards peace and prosperity. The foreign policy of the current government is more independent, and it is to strengthen the economic development of the country, with the help of China and other Asian states.

Pak-India rivalry is significant and crucial for the peace and prosperity of the subcontinent. Both countries fought various wars in the past, and now both are equipped with nuclear arsenals. India has been lobbying against Pakistan to defame it internationally. The strong ties of India with Afghanistan have caused significant problems for Pakistan. India has invested heavily in Afghanistan to lure the Afghan government to work against Pakistan. Due to Afghan-Russia and Afghan-USA wars, millions of refugees migrated to Pakistan to seek safer grounds. India and Afghan governments are using their agents to create hatred among migrant Afghans, towards Pakistan, to create insurgencies and anarchy. India is using the Afghan border to create problems for the security of Pakistan. The peace in Afghanistan is inevitable for the security of Pakistan, and to achieve that, the PTI government is mediating to execute a peace treaty in Afghanistan to pave the way for the USA and NATO to withdraw their troops’ with tranquility.

Pakistan has adopted a clear stance towards the middle east crisis. Saudi-Iran tussle has brought havoc to the peace of the region. Both countries are struggling to acquire a hegemonic role in the middle east. Many scholars argue that this tussle seems to be ideological or sectarian, but, in reality, both countries want to get control over middle east politics. Saudi Arabia and Iran misled their public in the name of religion or more appropriately, through sectarianism. Pakistan adopted the policy to remain neutral in this conflict, since, Pakistan is the home of two Wahabi and Shiite sects, and Pakistan doesn’t want to trigger another sectarian violence in the country. Same is the case with Yemen when Saudi Arabia requested Pakistan to send troops to help overcome Houthi rebels in Yemen, Pakistan categorically denied being a part of Yemen war. Pakistan has learned from its past mistakes of not to be a part of any third-party war.

Pakistan has a clear position on the Palestine issue, as the former is the only country in the world that banned its citizens from visiting Israel. Pakistan discerns Israel as the biggest enemy for the Muslim world. Pakistan supported Muslim countries against the tyranny of Israel in Palestine. Pakistan’s policy is to support Palestine on all the forums of the world. Like Kashmir, Pakistan demands a right of self-determination for Palestine against the Zionists.

Russia has once again emerged as a major Asian power. Russia regained its lost military and economic strength to afresh its might. Russia is collaborating with its neighboring Asian powers like China and India to create influence over world politics. Russia wants to get access to the Indian ocean for its trade, and Pakistan has invited Russia to be a part of its CPEC project. Due to the inconsistency in the relationship of Pakistan with the West, the incumbent government of Pakistan is focusing on strengthening its ties with other emerging powers. It seems like China, Russia, and Pakistan will combine resources to build a regional economic zone.

Nuclear proliferation is seen as a threat to the existence of humanity. World powers are engaged in extensive development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Pakistan developed nuclear weapons for deterrence against a permanent threat of India. Pakistan perceives India’s nuclear arsenals as a threat to regional security. Pakistan hasn’t adopted the No First Use policy but it has no intention to use nuclear weapons against its rivals as a preemptive measure. Pakistan clearly stated that it will use nuclear weapons only in the case of a threat to its sovereignty or security.

Kashmir issue is the centerpiece of all the disharmony, distrust, conflicts, and discords between Pakistan and India. Both countries have been in a continuous confrontation course to acquire control over the Kashmir region. Kashmir has paramount importance for Pakistan because the majority of the rivers pass through the Kashmir region. Since the revoke of 370 and annexation of Kashmir with India, Pakistan has adopted the stance of self-determination for Kashmir. Pakistan raised its voice for the support of Kashmir on all the forums of the world. Pakistan has highlighted the atrocities that the fascist Indian government is executing on the Kashmiri Muslims.

Pakistan is facing a tremendous amount of challenges in shaping a balanced foreign policy due to economic and security challenges. The current government of Pakistan has made some progress in changing the perception of Pakistan on International forums via a productive policy approach. Pakistan is tackling all the challenges to a considerable extent.

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