Tuesday July 05, 2022

Truly American

June 04, 2016

Knowledgeable people in the country were not surprised at the American drone attack inside Pakistani territory that resulted in the assassination of Mullah Mansour. But they were surprised at the mellow reaction shown by the Foreign Office.

Instead of sending a clear message of annoyance to the American administration – like the imposition of visa restrictions on certain category of Americans or debarring some American multinational companies from conducting business in this country – a mere routine protest seemed out of place.

The Pakistani people and their government have time and again been betrayed by the Americans who in recent times have been pursuing a vigorous pro-India policy. While the options available to our government remain limited, they can initiate policies which could make it a little more difficult for the Americans. One option that the government of Pakistan must consider after this blatant violation of its sovereignty is to vigorously pursue a horizontal strategic alliance that would counter some of the American measures that have been put in place by the Obama administration in consultation with India.

Pakistan must court both Iran and China so that this entire region not only prospers economically but also becomes a force to be reckoned with in the area of defence and security.

The Americans took a unilateral decision without consulting the Pakistani government and killed Mullah Mansour – and with that effectively finished all chances of a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. Mullah Mansour was perhaps the last hope for a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, whose government not only heavily relies on economic assistance by the US administration but who are able to rule Afghanistan only with the assistance of American troops.

Recently, the American House of Representatives passed a bill in which defence ties between the Americans and the Indians were upgraded to levels that usually exist between Nato countries. At the same time, the government of Pakistan was refused even peanuts in the shape of eight F16 jets that could have helped counter terrorist activities.

Another demand put forward by the Americans is for the release of Dr Shakeel Afridi who remains incarcerated in a Pakistani jail for being associated with terrorist organisations. This demand sends a loud message regarding the thinking in the US administration concerning Pakistan. Most of the American foreign policy initiatives in this region have failed in the past, but the Americans have refused to learn any lessons and continue with policies that raise red flags about their intentions.

Similarly, the American government has always put in place punitive actions against this country on various flimsy grounds and then mostly had to eat crow when leaders like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto refused to take dictation from them. Now the Americans have an eye on Pakistan’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and have started pushing India to counter China.

The Indians will not just take on the Chinese and ruin their economy in the process. But at the same time the Indians do want to play a policeman’s role in this region. Pakistan, being the only nuclear Muslim state, creates a balance and does not allow the hegemonic designs of the Indians to succeed despite all the American help they were receiving at this point in time.

Having said this, it would not be out of place if the failure of Pakistan’s foreign policy is not reviewed keeping in view the latest American action in Dalbadin. Pakistan has no proper foreign minister and very few nationalist officials in the Foreign Office who can wrest the initiative in the world of diplomacy and formulate policies that would help create a better environment for this country. It seems our Foreign Office has been compartmentalised to such an extent that progress and initiative are normally discouraged and status quo policies encouraged by those at the helm of affairs.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office needs to be revamped and streamlined so that a vibrant, flexible foreign policy is developed that can change with the times and improve the standing of this country in the international community. With the American presidential elections around the corner, it should have been easier for framers of our foreign policy to lobby hard both in the Democratic and Republican camps so that when the new administration took office Pakistan would have some sympathetic friends.

Unfortunately, it seems that no attention was given to this important aspect and as usual Pakistani diplomats were playing a game of wait and see which will leave them far behind in international diplomacy and it will take more time and money to cultivate relations that were a natural requirement for this country.