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May 21, 2019
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Latest Challenges for Pakistan’s Foreign Policy in the changing International Scenario – by Bakhtawar Mansha

14th August, 1947, an independent state appeared on the global map, named as Pakistan. It got independence on the basis of different ideology, culture and norms. But did it really get liberation? Or just having a separate homeland makes it an independent nation.

The leaders having distinctive idiosyncrasies came and went, many polices have been made and implemented, many changes have been witnessed, but the question is, despite all the changes, why Pakistan is still chained into sectarian issues, why it couldn’t build friendly relations with its neighbouring states, why it is labelled as a ‘’terrorist state’’, why panama leaks and corruption is entangled in its system,

Why?

Pakistan, a nation that has been facing various challenges since its inception. But every time, the ratio and intensity of these challenges has been more intense and complex. In simple words, the more the world is becoming globalized and internationalized; the more complex challenges are knocking at Pakistan’s door step.

Firstly, the point of significance is that the main problem is identified in the map of Pakistan. The geographical location in which its neighbouring countries are more a threat and foe than a friend. And Pakistan like other states has accepted the prevalent anarchic system in which there is no other option left but to rely on the principle of self-help.

With all the internal instabilities and chaos, Pakistan has been facing the eternal challenges as well, aggravated by transnational terrorist networks and the regional security dynamics with this from the Afghanistan border. The Taliban and other extremist groups have managed to extend their influence into Pakistan, posing a threat to national security with violent terror attacks and fuelling extremist impulses. Since partition, India- the old foe, a name that all Pakistani’s have been listening since the day they opened their eyes. Despite of the three major wars (1948, 1965, 1971) that have been fought between India and Pakistan, India still is somehow intertwined with Pakistan’s issues. Undoubtedly, the Kashmir dispute is a bone of contention and the major source of continued antagonism between the two nations, as there is no improvement and dispute remains unresolved.

The civil nuclear deal on the other hand has further escalated the situation in South Asian region. Pakistan opposes this deal as it believes that it has ruptured the balance of power within the region, it is accountable for the new nuclear race in the South Asia; and it fears that it would undermine the global non-proliferation regime as well.

The other most massive challenge to the foreign policy of Pakistan is the issue of Afghanistan. First, the geo-strategic environment has provoked Pakistan to adopt a defensive policy rather than offensive policy in the region. Keeping in the view the fragile and wobbly political economic and geo- strategic conditions, India has been taking full advantage of this situation by containing Pakistan in Afghanistan. Second, after 9/11 and the intervention of America made the situation even more grim, and made it difficult for Pakistan to attain and secure its interest in Afghanistan.

  Pakistan in the contemporary scenario is facing two fold challenges as Indian influence in Afghanistan is increasing day by day and on the other hand American spell on the region has upsetting impacts. Moreover, due to other unresolved issues, such that widespread violence, deep poverty, unsettled border tensions, drug trafficking, poor governance, illicit trade of weapons, issues of sovereignty, as well as the intricate social, historical, and religious dynamics in the region, Afghanistan and Pakistan are facing terrorism within their own respective territories; the relation between them isn’t getting any better.

After all the hardships that Pakistan has confronted, it is still an under developed state, for whom globalization is a challenge rather than an opportunity. As, this phenomenon is all about the ‘’survival of the fittest.’’ Pakistan already is financially relying on other states, and due to the globalized world it is losing its sovereignty too and is becoming more dependent on other states especially America in terms of economy and military assistance. And that is why Pakistan’s foreign policy is drowning towards failure. In recent times, the height of the corruption has been raised to such level that it is now affecting every single individual. The rich are getting richer whereas, the law are grinding the poor.

Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been Indian centric but it is viewed that after the 9/11 incident it is slightly tilting towards US. Why this shift in policy took place? What are the reasons? The primary reason is China, as China has the capability to become the next super power. China’ s emergence as a capable economic power has posed a threat to Indian and American sovereignties. Especially the Pakistan China relation is the matter of consideration for both of them.

In this context, the Trump presidency will also be giving a tough time to Pakistan, as Trump is not Obama; he is a hard liner that isn’t in the favour of Muslims and Pakistan. The Trump presidency is also an upcoming challenge towards Pakistan, now this is yet to experience and witness how Pakistan moulds its foreign policy and how well it tackles the challenges.

In contrary to all this, Pakistan is facing multiple internal threats as well, such that local sectarian violence between Sunni Deobandi and Shia Muslims, the heterogeneity within Pakistan, cultural and minority differences directly and indirectly are becoming a challenge for Pakistan.

To conclude, Political, economic and social instabilities have enclosed Pakistan. Due to these insecurities, conflicts have increased in number. The country today is fronting with countless chaotic situations. The leaders of Pakistan, who cry hoarse calling for harmony and unity on different occasions, they must take serious steps for the better future of Pakistan, despite smiling at each other under clicking cameras and shaping cities into ‘’mini Paris’’. Looking to all these contemporary conditions and challenges Pakistan immediately needs to concentrate on modifying its foreign policy so that it can cope up with all these frenzy circumstances. The Army in this regard plays a vital role, as it is still carrying out operations in order to get rid of terrorism. On the other hand, high hopes have been made for Qamar Javed Bajwa -the new army chief. But its yet to be seen, what happens next and will Pakistan be able to remove all those question marks that have been serrated on it.

Bakhtawar Mansha is a student of Fatima Jinnah Women University.