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Kiran Nazish

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Will Pakistan's New Foreign Policy Work?

Posted: 05/14/2012 10:37 am

The focus of Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar at local and international conferences these days is exhaustively toward the "new foreign policy" for the new Pakistan. Weeks ago she had been emphasizing military's receding interference in the foreign policy of the country. The biggest shift in the focus of the policy that I found recently is in seeking a prosperous "Kabul," which she elaborated upon recently talking to students of LUMS -- a top university in Pakistan.

The new world capital for Pakistan is Kabul and that is because, as the foreign office puts it, stability and peace in Pakistan is partially dependent on the events outside of Pakistan. That makes the government of Afghanistan our most important partner, and civil society of Afghanistan our most important audience.

To me, the latest developments and the exposition of "things changing in Pakistan" seems a bit dramatic. It is intriguing how many of these new foreign strategies are applicable in the context of the present Pakistan and must be analyzed. To begin with, the emphasis of foreign policy being the instrument of change for the internal stability of Pakistan seems miscalculated. We have seen how the foreign policy of Pakistan influences or decides its internal conditions; whereas, in fact, it should be the other way around. It has been the dilapidation of conditions inside of Pakistan that have long set the frames of its foreign policy. From economic reliance to security concerns, to the greater events such as Pakistan taking up its role in the war on terror, to this day and whatever else Pakistan have been through since. There could be no better time to see through this than today, when we find Pakistan seeking a "new foreign policy for a new Pakistan" that sets aside its long withholdings with India and hopes to move forward, while demanding respect and equal treatment from a ceaselessly dominating Uncle Sam.

Earlier this month Khar emphasized on many occasions about the exclusion of military influence the foreign policy. The fact that she speaks with such cheerful confidence is overbearing, yet undoubtedly such a change would levy great attention both internally and externally.

Looking at the reason of this great emphasis on Kabul being the most important capital for Pakistan and Afghanistan, the most important country, as our foreign minister has been saying on several occasions; is in order to achieve the diplomatic goals in the region. There have been statements in length about standing by the Afghan people and cooperation with the civilian leadership. Does this expansion obfuscate Pakistan's terms with the U.S.? As it seems, with the active talk on drones and discussion on the Parliamentary review, Pakistan's new foreign policy appears to be hit by the tough questions U.S. has been asking its ally, the cut of funds and most recently the cut of 100 U.S. AID projects.

The foreign office is now vertically seen proportionately engaged with all the neighbors, including India, Iran, Russia and China. MFN for India and Pipeline with Iran on the way, the foreign office is buckling up with alternatives for the much-denied U.S.-Pak breakup. As Hina Rabbani Khar puts it, "Foreign policy has been discussed in the parliament many, many times, but never before has the U.S. put on hold, during such proceedings."

As far as India is concerned, the developments are notable. I believe the problem with India and Pakistan has more to do with emotion than strategy or insecurity. In terms of Kashmir, it's not that we feel attacked and they feel robbed. It's moreover a wound from the separation that we both retrieved from the departure of millions of families and so much blood. The two countries need to seek as much friendship, that at one point the grievances are met, no issue remains as big as Kashmir or Siachen, be it Kashmir or Siachen.

We see examples of love in the form of exchange of letters that achieved forgiveness and friendship, from a Pakistani pilot to his Indian target's daughter. We see the Indian court granting release to Dr. Chisti, a Pakistani scientist. These civil efforts can't be disregarding in the line of doubtful militarily driven perceptions, and trust should be built based on the efforts that our political governments have been trying to make for the past few years. If we set our hearts straight, there is clear conjoint inclination that these countries share, and that goes far and beyond MFNs and Shrine visits.

For now, the new foreign policy is liberating Pakistan from a long hold of U.S., unnecessary constraints with its neighbors. The gas pipeline, cross border trade and socializing within the regional east and west, are obviously good things to look forward to.

 

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