For the last six months, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy has been proactive and it has not only brought economic and strategic dividends to the country, it has also greatly helped Pakistan in managing the current tension with India. During this period, while the Prime Minister, Imran Khan visited Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey, Malaysia, Qatar and the UAE, the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE have visited Pakistan. Moreover, whereas the Foreign Minister of Pakistan visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and China, the Foreign Ministers of China and a few Muslim countries also visited Pakistan.
During the above mentioned visits and interactions many MoUs and agreements were signed, and Pakistan has got some major economic benefits, including a sufficient quantity of loans provided on easy terms by its friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and China, to ease out its financial difficulties. Besides, Pakistan has also signed some major investment agreements with Saudi Arabia like the construction of a major oil refinery at Gwadar and purchase of a few energy producing plants from Pakistan.
Apart from the above stated economic advantages, Pakistan has also strengthened its political and diplomatic relations with the above stated countries. Apart from above, the Prime Minister Imran had taken a major peace initiative of offering holding of a dialogue with India and opening the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate Indian Sikhs’ visit to the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak in Pakistan at Kartarpur, although these friendly gestures had not received an open hearted welcome from the Modi Government.
Also, Pakistan had taken a major peace initiative pertaining to Afghanistan by facilitating the US-Taliban talks. Now the second round of these talks is continuing in Doha and it is expected that these discussions will result in a concrete agreement on achieving peace in Afghanistan. In this context, apart from contributing towards peace in Afghanistan, by facilitating the US-Taliban talks Pakistan has also improved its relations with the US. In this regard, President Trump’s recent statement that within a short time Pakistan-US relations have greatly improved is significant.
The above-mentioned economic and diplomatic gains in the economic and diplomatic fields have been greatly helpful to Pakistan in managing the current political and military tension created by India in the context of the Pulwama attack in the Indian occupied Kashmir. Even without conducting an investigation, India’s PM, Modi had blamed Pakistan for the Pulwama attack. And, in this context, while Modi cancelled the Most Favoured Nation Status of Pakistan and stopped trading with it, he had also warned Pakistan for teaching it a lesson. Contrary to Modi’s these actions, while Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered to cooperate with India in the investigation of the Pulwama attack, he had also offered to India to hold a bilateral dialogue to resolve the bilateral issues.
Despite Imran Khan’s above stated offers, on the night of 25/26 February 2019, four aircraft of the Indian air force violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by crossing the Line of Control (LoC), and when they were challenged by the Pakistan Air Force aircraft, they offloaded their ammunition/bombs on a bare ground and fled back to India without hitting their assigned targets, although India had falsely claimed that its aircraft had destroyed a terrorist camp in Pakistan.
Then in the morning of 27 February 2019, when Pakistani aircraft had shot the Indian military-related targets across the LoC from a standoff distance from own side of the LoC to avenge the violation of its sovereignty a day before, two Indian aircraft again crossed the LoC and those were hit by the Pakistani aircraft. As one Indian aircraft fell on the Pakistani side of the LoC, its pilot was arrested by the Pakistan Army.
To face the tension created by India, the provision of the economic assistance to Pakistan in the shape of easy loans by its friendly countries has given it an added confidence. Also, Pakistan’s recently reset and renewed strong diplomatic relations with its friendly countries is greatly helping it in dealing with the military tension with India. In this regard, Pakistan Government’s active diplomacy with the friendly countries is praise worthy.
The US is trying to diffuse the tension. Turkey has announced all types of support to Pakistan. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister is visiting Pakistan in this context. The Crown Prince of the UAE is trying to mediate. China, Russia and the EU have asked for a reduction in the tension and favoured the Pakistan’s stance of resolving the issues by holding bilateral talks. Thus, virtually, in relation to the current tense situation with India, Pakistan’s proactive foreign policy has out performed India’s so called superior diplomacy by mustering sufficient diplomatic support in favour of its stance.
—The writer is an ex-Army Colonel and Senior Research Fellow, Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad.