Foreign policy has always remained a challenge for Pakistan since its inception. But the recent foreign policy manoeuvres have once again made Pakistan an important contributor to the world peace. Afghan peace process was the outcome of Pakistan’s hard work which the world has finally acknowledged.
The evidence of Pakistan’s successful foreign policy was on display when US President Donald Trump, while addressing a rally in Ahmedabad, India, said that United States has “very good relations” with Pakistan and hopes to reduce tension in the region. This acknowledgment of US President was not received well by the Indian audience.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has sensibly handled the issues faced by Pakistan on global and regional level; whether it was Kashmir dispute, Afghan peace process, ties with India, US, China, the Arab world and Europe, Prime Minister steered the foreign policy in a tactful way.
Before analysing current government foreign policy, it is important to understand the situation Pakistan was facing on economic and foreign policy front before PM Imran Khan assumed office in August 2018. Pakistan was economically weak and was about to default on payments, relations with regional and global allies were either cold or not very cordial. Pakistan needed economic assistance and USA was using the opportunity to control Pakistan foreign policy by offering a conditional IMF assistance package. PM Imran Khan after assuming office, visited various allies including China and KSA to explain Pakistan economic situation and was able to secure significant assistance. This helped taking sting out of IMF demands and Pakistan was able to secure a much better deal.
In January 2018 few months before the general election in Pakistan, US President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. “has foolishly given Pakistan 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and [Pakistan] has given us nothing but lies and deceit.” In its early stages, the Trump administration took a hard-line stance on Pakistan, pressuring Pakistan to crack down on terrorist groups within its borders that targeted U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. then suspended $ 1.33 billion in aid to the economically weaker Pakistan until it ended its relationship with different extremist groups. The Trump administration has also placed fresh restrictions on the movement of Pakistani diplomats in the U.S. and ended its military and education training program with Pakistan.
However, Pakistan was offered an opportunity as Trump was seriously considering pulling out from Afghanistan and needed a respectable extraction to avoid embarrassment of defeat. Pakistan offered unconditional assistance and convinced U.S. that peace in Afghanistan is in favour of Pakistan. Pakistan also ensured not to side with any fraction interests and played a mediator role. US and Taliban have finally signed a historic peace deal and without the role of Islamabad the talks between the two sides would not have bore fruits. The peace deal will have far reaching implications on regional and global politics and will ensure a more friendly Afghanistan.
It is important to mention that India made an effort to sabotage Afghan peace process and create hurdles in it, but Pakistan was still able to mediate a deal between U.S and Taliban. According to Tilak Devasher, former senior official of RAW, Afghan peace deal is a huge victory for Pakistan and it is a proof that Pakistan in future is likely to stabilize its position in global community while completely making India irrelevant in Afghanistan equation.
PM Imran Khan Kashmir policy is also bearing fruit as global powers and watchdogs have started noticing the grave situation in Kashmir and have criticized Indian govt policy on Kashmir while urging for immediate resolution of the situation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s citizenship law has further exposed Indian fascist regime and has led to widespread protests in India. The world is now weighing in, too. United Nations officials, American representatives, international advocacy groups and religious organizations have issued scathing statements saying that citizenship law is blatantly discriminatory. Some are even calling for sanctions.
Current developments in India and improved relations with US have provided Pakistan fresh opportunities on foreign policy front. Pakistan needs to steer its foreign policy with a balanced hand to accrue long term objectives and forced India to sit on dialogue table to resolve long standing Kashmir issue.