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Pakistan needs to revamp its foreign policy: experts

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Islamabad needs to rethink its foreign relations in the context of a new ‘Great Game’ in the Eurasian region and beyond war and peace in Afghanistan, say experts

 

HAH Report

 

Islamabad: Diplomats and experts on Wednesday stressed the need for a thorough revamping of Pakistan’s foreign policy and it’s relations with its neighbours and the United States in particular.

They were speaking at a seminar on Pakistan-US relations: searching for a common ground, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) at its office.

Former ambassador to the US Ashraf Jahangir Qazi said that Pakistan could only achieve its desired foreign policy objectives if it started looking at its regional and international challenges from a fresh perspective.

Pakistan can achieve the desired foreign policy objectives if it started looking at its regional and international challenges from a fresh perspective.–Ashraf Jahangir Qazi

He cited the example of Afghanistan where, according to him, Pakistan seems to have regained a central position in the ongoing peace process. “Pakistan can benefit from this position only if it stops dictating the Afghans and starts being generous towards them,” he said. 

Qazi also argued that Islamabad needs to rethink its foreign relations in the context of a new ‘Great Game’ in the Eurasian region.

Islamabad needs to rethink its foreign relations in the context of a new ‘Great Game’ in the Eurasian region.–Ashraf Jahangir Qazi

“Our foreign policy should be conducted in the context of what is going on between China and the United States on the one hand and between Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and the US on the other hand,” he said.

“While Pakistan should further strengthen its strategic ties with China, we should conduct our ties with Washington to ensure that the US does not want to or has to harm our interests”, he added. 

Board of Investment former chairman Haroon Sharif talked about the possibilities of investment and trade that a balanced relationship with the US can provide to Pakistan. He said that, in order to be successful, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s US visit should have resulted in the form of some tangible economic and financial transactions between the two countries.

“There is no harm in having a transactional relationship with the United States as long as transactions help Pakistan financially and economically”, he said. Sharif, however, questioned Pakistan’s capacity to negotiate and implement any serious international transaction with any country including the US. 

Former ambassador Ayaz Wazirwhile highlighting Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, said the US had always used Pakistan for its own interests in Afghanistan. “And we have happily served the American interests,” he said. “In the wake of the recent visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan, I fear that we are again offering our services for free in Afghanistan which will be a mistake.”

US had always used Pakistan for its own interests in Afghanistan. And we have happily served the American interests.–Ayaz Wazir

Senior defence analyst Major General (retired) Ijaz Hussain Awan discussed President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute. He said all the bilateral engagements between India and Pakistan have failed to resolve the conflict between the two countries over the last 70 years. “The only way forward is third party intervention in the light of the United Nation resolution on Kashmir because bilateral mechanisms have failed,” he said and added that the resolution of the problems over the Indus River waters was made possibly only because it was facilitated and mediated by a third party. 

Senior journalist ad analyst Zahid Hussain said the US and Pakistan have some convergence of interests on some issues but huge divergence on many others. “Overall, the relationship between the two countries largely revolves around Afghanistan where there is a revived convergence in their interests”, he said.

Islamabad needed to increase the ambit of its ties with Washington beyond the war and peace in Afghanistan.–Abid Qaiyum Suleri

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that, since the very beginning, Pakistan’s relations with the US had remained bumpy.

He argued that Islamabad needed to increase the ambit of its ties with Washington beyond the war and peace in Afghanistan.

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