Thoughts by Bahadar Ali

June 12, 2017

Pakistan: Yet another challenge

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 12:22 am

Pakistan’s eternal predicament while aping Saudi Arabia influenced foreign policy is a constant one legged race. Pakistan has long been walking on a thin ice to keep Saudis happy and simultaneously trying to stay away from keeping Iranians unhappy. That fragile balance turned into an imbalance during Trump’s recent visit. And while just the damage from it was being assessed, now Qatar front has been opened. Another fork has been laid down of which Pakistan could choose only one prong – disassociate itself with Qatar now. Neutrality apparently seems is not a choice here again because we ourselves already have set the precedent in Iranian scenario. So question would be raised, if you could cut-off with Iran why not with Qatar now? Process in the KSA led Middle East has been emphatically laid out, “My way or highway”. Obviously Qatar is not as significant as Iran but basic idea remains the same. Now next precarious trajectory that is going to be drawn in the complex Middle Eastern political web, is the fate of Turkey because it has already earned the wrath of Saudi Arabia by putting its weight behind Qatar. By extension of prevailing circumstances soon Pakistan would be dealing with the same nuisance-ridden situation again. Stay put with Turkey or reconsider those relations too?
In this political algebra, one side of the equation has always been a constant factor, Saudi Arabia. The other side keeps on changing and thus causing a consistent enigma for all those who regard Saudi Arabia at the driving seat and set their destination with it accordingly. There are no easy answers to this riddle. But Pakistan has to made its decision at some point. One thing is apparent that our foreign policy apparatus is not smart enough to keep running with the hare while hunting with the hound. Neither we can trick the powerful countries nor we can keep on estranging ourselves with our erstwhile friendly states one by one. For Saudi Arabia it is entirely different matter. The whole world has seen the spectacle when they tamed the otherwise seemingly incorrigible Trump with the power of their wealth. No matter what they do, there would always be no shortage of leverage for them. If somebody refutes the potency of money, one should gladly do that but “48 Laws of Power” tells us entirely and opposite tale. Meaning by Saudi Arabia can ‘afford’ to do that, but others, especially Pakistan is not endowed with this much of a luck.

Back in the days of Soviet-US cold war, smaller and weaker states often had to confront similar situations. The shifting of alliances and pacts of those days, would keep these states consistently on the wrong foot. Those were the days when Non Aligned Movement was launched. It was a diplomatic movement that profoundly expressed the state of weariness from that game of influences set by the two super powers of that time. How effective that movement was, is beyond the scope of this article but it worked. Though for sometime, but message was loud and clear, “We are not your proxies!”.

The word, sovereignty, is not just a noun that has been added to our constitution for a feel-good factor. It has its meanings and a hope that lies within it. The first step is to shun the tunnel-vision policy that lately has been fit on our otherwise perfectly peripheral vision enabled eyes. Pakistan was doing fine rather thriving even before Saudi Arabia has got control over its oil in 60s and long before UAE even surfaced on the world map. It is only that we got ourselves addicted to some sort of “Easy Money” scheme, which, also, time has proved otherwise. But this addiction has lately made us to walk and talk in circles.
We are untiringly keep on praising ourselves as a nuclear power wielding country. The nuclear power status has its nuisance value in the world politics. Sometime it is brute power and clout that manifests itself without much effort but sometimes state apparatus has to magnify its prowess. We are the former. However this requires diplomatic salesmanship but unfortunately we relinquished this area at the mercy of powerful neighbors long time ago. Our foreign office needs to work and work hard, that we no longer should be treated as a hockey-puck whenever and whoever chooses to put in. The real scenario should have been that others should woe us and not the otherwise and the one who wants to walkaway from us must have the idea who they are walking away from. But as the maxim goes, nobody gives respect it has to be earned. But do we look at it, this way at all?

If no satisfactory solution still shows up then at least beside watching Indian movies also please do watch their foreign policy. Don’t we think that they also face the same situations when perpetually belligerent Middle East takes its funky somersaults? Yes, they do. They also have millions of people working in these oil-rich countries and who earns them billions of dollar of remittances. Then how come they always walk steadfastly on these slippery slopes? Answer lies in the hard work and vision. They work hard, read the situation even before it happens and take corrective measures unlike us who are always awaken from deep slumber and get caught off guard. Always.

Obviously it is already late to correct the present exacerbated situation, but at this juncture, our best course would be adopt a stern neutral stand, come what may. If we fear for our labor working there and the remittances obviously they need us too, if not now, but they will, not in very distant future. We need to shun the policy of losing our friendly countries one by one. This is a whirlpool that we need to jump out one way or the other, better we should do it now.

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