The fabric of a good foreign policy is always weaved with the tools of imperatives of internal and external conditions of a state and is designed to better the internal conditions of people of the state. The more a foreign policy takes into account internal and external imperatives, the greater it ensures national security; the more a foreign policy neglects such imperatives, the greater it threatens national security. Pakistan needs to base its foreign policy on its internal and external imperatives which require a major and basic reshuffle in Pakistan’s foreign policy pattern in present scenario.
Pakistan’s internal conditions are greatly influenced by conditions prevailing in Afghanistan. The USA’s war in Afghanistan is nearing its end, and Taliban are strong enough to assert their will in certain portions of Afghanistan. With or without presence of USA and its Allies in Afghanistan, Taliban are not likely to accept a secular government in Afghanistan; they will keep on struggling for establishment of an Islamic State like one which was overthrown by USA and its Allies previously. It is the destination of Afghanistan, which cannot be neglected either by USA or by Pakistan.
The major consideration of USA is to prevent the probability of China emerging as economic and political super power and Central Asian Muslim countries including Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan all joining Chinese block. In the backdrop of this consideration, the USA may have two opposite choices regarding Afghan situation. The first choice of USA may be to oppose establishment of Islamic state in Afghanistan. The pre-condition of such a choice would be installation of a USA friendly government in Afghanistan so that USA’s regional interests may be protected. Such an option would be made viable and achievable through winning over both Pakistan and India to favor this policy option so that threat of emergence of China and Islamic block may be addressed. For this purpose, Pak-India disputes would be resolved to keep, on the one hand, Pakistan away from China and Chinese dependence and, on the other hand, to encourage and enable Pakistan to fight Pakistani Taliban which are aligned with Afghan Taliban to establish Islamic state in Afghanistan.
In case of failure of first choice, the second choice of USA may be to support Islamic state in Afghanistan, provided such an Islamic state is anti-China and anti-Iran. The basic objective behind such a policy option would be the same i.e. to undo the threat of emergence of Chinese-Muslim block. To achieve objectives behind this policy option, Taliban would be encouraged to enflame liberation movement in Chinese province of Xinxiang. In order to make such a policy a success, Pak-India disputes would be resolved so that Pakistan’s dependence over China may be reduced to the minimum and resultantly Pakistan may not resist Islamic state of Afghanistan’s anti-China role.
We can see that in either of two foreign policy options, the USA would try to normalize relations between Pakistan and India; that is why we see USA doing every effort to forge and step up level of business relations between Pakistan and India. Pak-India close business relations would also benefit USA’s investments in India and may create a nexus against rising economic power of China through manipulating major chunk of Pakistan’s economic resources (imports+exports) in India’s and India’s foreign investors’ favor. If Pakistan succumbs to USA’s pressure to forge close economic ties with India, Pakistan would be at a loss in two ways. Firstly Pakistan would lose glorious opportunity to become a part of likely Economic and Political Cooperation comprising China, Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan (for details plz see my article “Pak-India Relations-Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Options). If Pakistan diverts its economic resources towards India instead of this Economic and Political Cooperation, this Cooperation would not turn into a reality; even if it becomes a reality, it would not be that much vigorous as it may be by including Pakistan in it. In other words, Pakistan may utilize its economic, geographic and strategic position through this Economic and Political Cooperation to become a major regional power. But if Pakistan chooses India as its close business partner and diverts its economic resources towards India, Pakistan would become a second rated power viz a viz India and would be at mercy of India and India’s Western foreign investors particularly USA. Secondly, Pakistan’s close business ties with India would give India an edge over Pakistan in settling mutual disputes; if Pakistan employs its major economic (imports+exports) resources to India, it would give India a better negotiation position viz a viz Pakistan during dispute resolution process.
Apart from Indian factor, if Pakistan adopts USA’s either of two policy options afore-mentioned, it would enhance threat to Pakistan’s national security because such a foreign policy option adopted by Pakistan would not be in line with Pakistan’s internal imperatives. If going along USA’s first policy option, Pakistan opposes establishment of an Islamic state in Afghanistan, that would mean Pakistan’s war against Pakistani Taliban would never come to end because Pakistani Taliban are aligned with Afghan Taliban which are struggling for an Islamic state in Afghanistan. Such an exigency would seriously threaten Pakistan’s security which is already undermined by Pak-TTP war; Pakistan’s economy would continue to be paralysed. Such a regional situation would never let Pakistan join likely regional Economic and Political Cooperation; Pakistan would be kept away from benefitting the enormous economic and strategic advantages likely to be accrued from this regional Cooperation.
If Pakistan adopts the second USA’s policy option and supports anti-China stance to be taken by would-be Islamic State of Afghanistan, all chances of emergence of regional Economic and Political Cooperation would die down. Pakistan needs this regional Cooperation in order to emerge as a truly independent and prosperous Islamic state. In the absence of this regional Cooperation, Pakistan would be left at the mercy of India and USA’s block along with all the negative implications of such a dependence mentioned already.
We may conclude that present geo-strategic and internal conditions of Pakistan demand it to forge an Economic and Political Cooperation with China, Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistan should primarily employ all its economic resources to make this Cooperation a viable and vigorous framework leading Pakistan to a prime position in this Alliance. The internal and external imperatives faced with by Pakistan necessitate that Pakistan should avoid close and high economic relations with India; however low economic relations may be developed with India but not at the cost of interests of proposed Economic and Political Cooperation, and provided that India shows positive response in respect of mutual disputes.