Pakistan is not isolated!
Pakistan is far from isolated. It enjoys a very close strategic relationship with its largest neighbour China, the emerging superpower. Relations with Iran are complex, but not hostile, and in fact the relations are moving to positive trajectory. Relations with regional neighbours Saudi Arabia, the GCC and Turkey remain friendly, with considerable potential for collaboration. Pakistan enjoys influence within the wider international community due to its size, strategic location, military strength and economic potential. Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has said Pakistan is an important member of the international community and India’s stated policy to isolate Pakistan had not succeeded. In an interview appeared in the Times of India on Saturday, he said Pakistan was contributing to international peace and it remained one of the largest contributors to the UN peace keeping missions. “We know our place in the world.”
Some Pakistani commentators insist that Pakistan is isolated because its relations with three of its four immediate neighbours are hostile. Others passed the judgment that Pakistan is isolated because four of the SAARC members were not ready to attend the SAARC summit. Despite the propaganda by India and Afghanistan, one would not see the hype in the international media that Pakistan is isolated. Some have ascribed this ‘failure’ exclusively to the absence of a fulltime foreign minister and the hydra-headed leadership at the Foreign Office, while others believe that non-state actors have not been reined in. Of course, Pakistan faces many challenges like hostile neighbors, and also economic challenges vis-à-vis the ever-increasing debt mountain, and fiscal, trade and current account deficit. How unfortunate that a resourceful country has been brought to the present pass by inept ruling elite?
Abdul Basit said: “In fact, 5 or 10 years down the road Pakistan is destined to emerge as a regional economic hub because we are the natural bridge between West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. You cannot take that position from us. Rather than wasting time in isolating Pakistan, it is important to look at ways to integrate and connect with each other,” he added. To a question he said South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit was postponed which was a collective loss. To another question about Uri attack, he said Pakistan had already suggested an international probe to ensure conclusive and irrefutable findings. “Our offer is still there…because we need to get out of this blame game. And for that, we strongly feel an international probe would be a much better option,” he added. But India would not agree.
That Pakistan’s relations with India are tense should come as no surprise. The hostility of a Hindu supremacist BJP government was anticipated by most Pakistanis, except the purblind. But Modi’s arrogance and belligerence towards Pakistan have outstripped anticipation, partly because of the perceived weakness in Islamabad, but mostly due to the shift in the global and regional strategic environment and India’s growing alignment with the US in the context of its rising rivalry with China. This emerging US-Indian alliance has not only encouraged New Delhi’s belligerence, it has exacerbated Pakistan’s security challenges, reflected in American support for India’s massive arms build-up; wide-ranging US attempts to contain and neutralise Pakistan’s nuclear and missile deterrence capabilities. Pakistan, with China’s cooperation, can meet India’s security challenge and maintain credible deterrence, nuclear and conventional.
Pakistan has no compulsion to press for a dialogue so long as New Delhi refuses to address the fundamental issues of Kashmir and peace and security. What Pakistan does need to reverse at present is, first, India’s long-standing attempts to sow domestic discord and destabilise Pakistan, including in Balochistan, rural Sindh and Karachi; and the attacks against Pakistan’s civilians and security forces conducted by the TTP militants and the Balochistan Liberation Army insurgents from the territory of Afghanistan. However, the US on Friday said it does not support declaring Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’ but will continue to work with the governments in the region to eliminate safe havens which also pose a threat to India. The US also called for a “meaningful dialogue” between India and Pakistan to address differences including the Kashmir issue and to bring down the recent tensions.