Published Date: Mar 1, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Reforms and improving the direction of foreign policy would help Pakistan effectively defend its national interest diplomatically and overcome diplomatic turmoil created by Indian propaganda and lobbying, Parliamentary Secretary on Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas said at a seminar on Thursday.
She told participants of the seminar on Foreign Policy of Pakistan in Context of Strategic Coercion, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, that: “Trade and investments get you towards improved economic ties and diplomatic relations, whereas aid gets you towards strategic coercion. Therefore, economic diplomacy was the key focus of the incumbent government.”
Religious and cultural diplomacy was another key diplomatic tool to bring the world closer to explore our country and diminish differences and misconceptions prevailing among various countries. Opening up of Kartarpur corridor was the part of this diplomacy, she added.
Another speaker, defence analyst retired Gen Amjad Shoaib, claimed Pakistan has suffered terrorism because it stopped sending mujahideen to Kashmir.
Says religious, cultural diplomacy is another key diplomatic tool to bring the world closer
He said: “In mid-2000s, we completely disbanded training camps of mujahideen due to which those freedom fighters became Punjabi Taliban and later they joined Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). TTP attacked on the Sri Lankan cricket team and we suffered.”
“The basic principle of Indian foreign policy is to get Pakistan isolated diplomatically, declare it a terror-financing state and suppress the indigenous freedom struggle of Kashmiri people. It is unfortunate that despite losing more than 70,000 innocent lives to terrorism, we are still labelled as terrorist state. We failed to capitalise over evidence of Indian state terrorism in Pakistan in the form of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, where Pakistan can build its counter narrative,” he added.
He said Pakistan should establish its innocence and credibility through a collective counter narrative. He said Pakistan’s foreign policy is reactive, not proactive, and that Pakistan needs to adopt smart and proactive diplomacy to improve its image globally.
Commenting on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, security analyst Imtiaz Gul said both countries have no choice but to live in peace as they have a lot of commonalities in culture, caste and religion.
He suggested treating Afghan refugees on humanitarian grounds instead of as security risks to improve ties between the two countries.
He said the prime minister’s steps to relax the visa regime and allow Afghan refugees to open bank accounts were good confidence building measures that would help reduce tensions between the two countries.
Chairing the session, Ambassador Tariq Hyder said Pakistan has hosted 1.34 million Afghan refugees for almost 40 years and 1.5m Afghans had been provided identity cards. He also said the diminishing international assistance for them should be noted, which was 2pc of what was provided to Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees for just a few years.
Former ambassador Ayaz Wazir said Pakistan is facing several issues internally including political instability and economic volatility, which weakens its position on the external front. Pakistan needs to be stable and strong from the internal side to effectively confront external coercions, otherwise a poor domestic situation would not help achieve foreign policy objectives, he remarked.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said Pakistan is not just facing traditional coercion to ‘Do More’, but also economic coercion in the form of International Monetary Fund conditions and restrictions.
He said the hybrid warfare is now one of the major challenges of Pakistan’s foreign policy. He said our common enemy is poverty, hunger, food security, climate change, inequality, unemployment and lack of drinking water and safe sanitation.
The region and especially both nuclear rivals require collective action to fight the common enemy, he said.
Former judge and Supreme Court advocate Mohammad Majid Bashir said Pakistan’s foreign policy issues were never debated on the legal side. He said our foreign policy lacks law fare, as there is no regional and international legal regime in place for foreign policy issues.