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April 13, 2015

What a friend!


April 13, 2015

The maxim of diplomacy that there are no permanent friends or foe in international relations is true, but we are lucky to have three exceptions. Despite all changes in the international arena, Pakistan never lost unconditional support from China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
China from day one is our strategic partner. Turkey never sees Pakistan in conflict with their interests. Today, Turkey is perhaps the only modern country where Pakistanis are still treated with respect and warmth.Relations with Saudi Arabia are based on spiritual and sentimental ties due to two holiest places of Islam. In the same spirit, Pakistanis are perhaps not united and convinced over the constitution of Pakistan with such zeal as they are about the friendship of these three Muslim countries.
In history, regardless of the type of government or ruling party in Pakistan, the friendship with them remains the cornerstone of our foreign policy.It is the first Pakistani government that marred this legacy with hypocrisy, undue stealth and a style of governance where family ties are promoted in the name of democracy.
Right up to this point of time, China and Pakistan have same friends and foes in the region. Both nations, to a great extent, hold same interests. It is China that worries most about the economic turmoil in Pakistan and wishes its economic stability more than any other state in the world.
Gawadar Port and building of a modern infrastructure in Pakistan is beneficial both for Pakistan and China. China is the only country that helped us both in economic and defense sector, and does recommend same policy choice for Pakistan that it opts for.
As China collected tax from Eastern China and spent on the Western parts, the same way through the Economic Corridor it wishes to spend the tax money of Chinese on the uplift of Pakistan. If this project completes successfully, it will not only change the whole face of Pakistan, but also make the future generations would be thankful to

China for such wise and sincere plan.
This is unfortunate that only few individuals from the Central Punjab, following the core philosophy of the ruling party, are trying to mould the project in a way that would end in distrust in China’s friendship by the Baloch and Pashtuns.
To end the parochial approach, if the project was not properly debated in the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and Parliament of Pakistan, indeed the present government would be responsible for any resulting trust deficit over historic friendship of China.
Same individualistic approach is being carried out in terms of relations with Turkey. For the first time, family relations are being established at the expanses of governmental positions. The people of Pakistan are closely watching this episode with acute mistrust.
However, the worst case of destroying historic relations could be seen the way Saudi Arabia is being dealt with. We Pakistanis cannot forget the era of King Faisal when risking Saudi relations with India and Bangladesh on the split of East Pakistan, Saudi Arabia firmly stood with Pakistan.
Few commentators frequently refer to the role of Saudi Arabia in connection with the Afghan Jihad and resulting extremism in the regions; however, they ignore the fact that Saudi Arabia did this on the request of our governments and the Establishment. As it is evident that the Afghan Taliban were not Salfi but Deobandi sub-sect, they were supported by the US and later by Pakistan. They basically have to play the role of proxy for Pakistan, and on Pakistani request, Saudi Arabia leaving behind the Akhwani and Salfi leadership like Burhanuddin Rabbani, Hikmatyar and Ostad Sayyaf, extended help to the Taliban.
Likewise, the Pakistani nuclear capability test was to deter India, and the US along with international community was determined to teach us a lesson through economic sanctions. Negating the US and Indian pressure, Saudi Arabia came forward to help our economy while we were in hot waters. Even on the issue of Palestine, Saudi Arabia never crossed its policy limits, but after 9/11 its unconditional support for Pakistan on Afghanistan as strategic partner seems like Pakistan formulate policy, and Saudi Arabia work to actualize.
Their bounty over present Pakistani rulers is very clear; they saved them from bereavement and honored them at Sarwar Palace. But at first step, they deserted the agreement made through Saudis with Musharraf, and that was diplomatic blush for them. However, all this was rewarded in a fitting fashion when Nawaz though promised honorable exit of Musharraf with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and China governments, but through Parliament and judiciary Musharraf was kept in Pakistan, that pushed these governments in a very awkward position.
In early days of Nawaz government, to help overcome the economic crisis, the Saudi government parked 1.25 billion dollars in the State Bank of Pakistan. This was also dealt with in a very strange way. First details were kept secret, then it was claimed that Saudi Arabia had extended this help on personal ties with the ruling family, and the net result was a very negative criticism for the Saudi government in the Pakistani media and political circles.
Saudi Arabia is really in a fix. At regional level after Iraq, Syria and Lebanon now the Yemen crisis is a real threat to its territory. Besides, its main supporter — the US — seems to be backing its rivals and left Saudi Arabia in a lurch.
In this situation, it’s natural that they first of all called Pakistan for help and contacted their own Nawaz. And he, as usual, with all due and undue respect, committed every type of help. Once back to home, instead of having meeting with Cabinet Committee for Defense and National Security or putting this issue before Parliament, he preferred his branded attitude to deal with sensitive issues.
On the first day, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement, the other day Minister for Defense Khawaja Asif after having a meeting with the military leadership aired different statements and the very next day the official statement on the National Assembly floor was poles apart.
This created confusion and the Yemen crisis was termed a Sunni-Shia conflict by some circles and Saudi-Iran war by others. Once successful in creating mess, the government summoned the joint session of Parliament on the issue.
Indeed all this could have been done in a nice and decent way. After urgent and profound consultations with the military leadership and the cabinet, a carefully worded statement was due and should have been issued or aired by a person, not less than advisor for foreign affairs.
However, what we saw was a very casual statement, not properly worded and careless to a degree that Saudi demands were presented in very inappropriate way, and even included the name of Houthis in it, was read by minister for defense. As it was not enough, the same minister that had to issue the statement waged an abusive war against the PTI amid this discussion on the floor of Parliament.
For Saudi Arabia and other alliance countries, every passing minute is important. And our reaction to the issue is conflicting statements, internal political conflicts, unprofessional dealing and careless treatment.
Now despite all these practices by the government, it is maturity of Parliament that it issued a joint statement that holds much-needed balance and far more space for the Pakistani government to act. But this resolution is neither compatible with the expectations nor does it mach with the commitments of our government.
How this government will be able to act as arbitrator that could perform well along with keeping the promises made with the Saudi government. The statement of UAE foreign minister about the role of Pakistan can be termed the first reflection of Arab friends’ frustration. The maxim of diplomacy that there are no permanent friends or foe in international relations is true, but it amazes me at times if any space is left for the foe if such incompetent friends are there to defend.

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