Reforms, improving direction of foreign policy help Pakistan defend national interests

March 6, 2019 OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan

AP photo



Muhammad Shoaib Khan



Islamabad: The challenge for Pakistan is to build a strong counter narrative on all fronts and improved ties with international players. Speakers at a recent seminar urged Pakistan to defend its national interest through diplomacy.


Parliamentary Secretary on Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas said that reforms and improving direction of the foreign policy would help Pakistan to effectively defend its national interests diplomatically and overcome diplomatic turmoil created by Indian propaganda and lobbying around the world.


Speaking at the inaugural session of a seminar on “Foreign Policy of Pakistan in Context of Strategic Coercion” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), she said the present government was working on economic, religious and cultural diplomacy to get international community aware of Pakistan’s sacrifices in War on Terror for regional and global peace.


“Trade and investments get you towards improved economic ties and diplomatic relations, whereas, aid get you towards strategic coercion. Therefore, economic diplomacy was the key focus of the incumbent government,” said the member parliament, adding that with massive investments from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates we were heading towards our aim to take major game players on our side on diplomatic front. She said 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.


While commenting on the Afghan Peace Process, the Senior Security Analyst said both countries have no choice but to live in peace, as both countries have a lot of commonalities in culture, caste and religion. To improve ties between two countries, he suggested that Afghan refugees should be dealt on the humanitarian ground instead of considering them a security risk. He termed the Prime Minister’s steps of relaxing visa regime and allowing Afghan refugees to open bank accounts, a good confidence building measure, which would help reduce tensions between two countries.


Ambassador Tariq Hyderwhile chairing the session, said Pakistan is hosting 1.34 million of Afghan refugees for almost 40 years and 1.5 million irregular Afghans being provided IC cards, which was appreciated by all Afghans. He said it should be noted that the diminishing international assistance for them was 2% of that provided to Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees just a few years.


Economist Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said Pakistan is not only facing traditional coercion of ‘Do More’, but also facing economic coercion in the form of IMF conditions and restrictions. He said the hybrid warfare is now one the major challenges of Pakistan’s foreign policy and to ward off this challenge, we have to prepare ourselves. 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 added.


Former Ambassador Ayaz Wazir said we are facing several issues internally including political instability and economic volatility which weaken our position on the external front. Pakistan needs to be stable and strong from the internal side to effectively confront the external coercions, otherwise poor domestic situation would not help in achieving foreign policy objectives of the country, he remarked.


Gen. (retired) Amjad Shoaib, Senior Defence Analyst said the basic principle of Indian foreign policy is to get Pakistan isolated diplomatically, declare a terror financing state and suppress indigenous freedom struggle Kashmiri people. It is unfortunate that despite losing more than seventy thousand innocent lives to terrorism, we are still labeled as terrorist state, he lamented. We failed to capitalize over evidence of Indian state terrorism in Pakistan in the form of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, where Pakistan can build its counter narrative. We must establish our innocence and credibility through a collective counter narrative, he added. Our foreign policy is reactive not proactive, he said, adding that Pakistan needs to adopt smart and proactive diplomacy in order to improve its image globally.


Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director SDPI said it is concerning to note that political tensions between India and Pakistan have already started to cost heavily in economic terms. He said the disappointing decision by Government of India to erect trade barriers will result in negatively impacting jobs and livelihoods of people associated with trade of goods on both sides. Moreover, the closure of airspace in both countries, suspension of already planned flights from abroad and domestic and cancellation of scheduled business events during the week will impose significant costs on the economy of both countries struggling to come out of poverty.


Muhammad Majid Bashir, Former Judge, Advocate Supreme Court said that Pakistan foreign policy issues were never debated on legal side. He said our foreign policy lacks lawfare, as we don’t have regional and international legal regime in place for foreign policy issues. The issues such as Kulbhushan Jadhav, Pathankot incident, FATF, Uri attack and now Pulwama require legal framework and international lawyers to understand the issues. He said Pakistan usually signed the international treaties but we don’t have the legal team to have legal framework for such treaties. Pakistan needs to have a think tank of young international lawyers to help strengthen Pakistan capacity on legal foreign policy issues, he added. Dr. Shafqat Munir, Director Policy, SDPI while moderating the seminar said the implications of strategic coercion for Pakistan are quite high as it has been subjected to variety of coercive tactics. He said we have to rethink whether or not our foreign, economic and domestic policies are aligned to realize the gravity of the situation.


Pakistan failed to present its case to the international community, whereas India was successful in propagating its narrative due to its presence of a strong lobby internally on every front. It’s hard for Pakistan to contest and resist western narrative, which built after 9/11. But after fighting against terrorism for the last decade Pakistan’s narrative against terrorism was projected and the world appreciated the efforts of Pakistan.





Muhammad Shoaib Khan

Muhammad Shoaib Khan

Muhammad Shoaib Khan is a journalist from Pakistan and has worked with NEO TV, Independent News, PBC and The Nation.

Editor review


  1. samir sardana June 11, at 16:30

    Like I said in my post,as above on April 13,2020 at 21:04 pm,what the IMF/World Bank and the Pakistani state could not do for 73 years - COVID and my prophecy has ! dindooohindoo The CAD has crashed and will turn surplus in less than 5 months - as IRP (Islamic Republic of Pakistan is the only viable exporter,for several labour intensive and agri and animal husbandry products).It will be viable to fly camels and donkeys,to the world in 747s and C-130s for meat - it will occur soon ! The austerity which an Islamic state SHOULD have - BUT DID NOT - has come via COVID ! This is the time to code austerity in the DNA of all subjects of Islamic states - which will also offset the Oil shock to Islamic economies It might be noted that 90% of the dead and 95% of the infected are in Christian nations ! The next issue for IRP is the fiscal deficit - and for that also there is a solution ! The disaster is for large populated nations,with higher cost manufacturing (w.r.t PRC) and large unskilled labour in manufacturing and agriculture. Which is India ! We are witnessing the destruction of India - in slow motion ! The IRP can give me a diplomatic passport and a posting in Geneva and USD 5 million ! I will pray for them and solve all their problems

  2. samir sardana April 13, at 21:04

    You are missing “The Corona Bonanza” Bonanza 1 There will a temporary shock to the government fiscal revenues as Imports will crash,CIF rates of imports will also crash,domestic production has stopped (as tax on MRP less deductions is paid at the time of production and not sale),domestic MRP rates will also crash.That is Y the state has not passed the benefits of lower crude and palm rates to the people The Bonus is in non-salary expenditures of the state,which are on ARC (Annual Rate Contracts) or other RC.With crash in commodities and surplus capacities – Pakistan can easily make and re-negotiate its procurements.Large nations like Hindoosthan,will face disaster,as they will face supply risks,per se.W.r.t the purchases by the Pakistani state,the state can declare Force Majeure,especially on International contracts. There is no immorality in this,as the suuply and value chain of the suupliers to the state – will,in any case,declare Force Majeure – which will ensure that the suupliers will default on the government contracts.The supliers will make supplies at ARCs,only to the extent of the existing stocks,as at March 15th,2020.They cannot be allowed to supply,from new purchases at the old ARC rates. Global suppliers will be glad to dump their stocks – with depots in Pakistan – for sale to the Pakistani State. This could easily reduce the costs by 30-50%,on a one time and recurring basis.Once this Cost is saved,in phases,the benefit of oil price crash on fuels and edible oils and also power tarriffs and fertilisers,can be passed on to the public.That will be pure jannat. Bonanza 2 The Only Solution to the supply chain risk in USA/EU (w.r.t their supply chains in PTRC) lies in massive robotics and AI – which will make humans obsolete in manufactuirng and also,in part,in IT.The question is,what to do with the humans.That is Y the virus is sought – Simple ! For Pakistan – the crash in Raw Materials and cost of capital, availability of capital and crash in logistics costs will make manufacturing and exports viable.That makes existing unviable manufacturing units viable and jobs and decline in NPAs.No fresh capacities should be launched,solely based on the current cost structure.Crash in costs plus the low labour costs in Pakistan and stable PKR – is the Alt-AI and Robotics The Pakistani people should thank its prior leaders,that they made manufacturing unviable in Pakistan,and made it a trading nation. Had the state set up manufacturing units – they would be unviable,banks would be busted and there would have been mass skilled unemployment. Just look at Hindoosthan. dindooohindoo This is the time for setting up manufacturing units – SME and others. The military,food,telecom,technology and health secuirty of the USA and EU is in the hands of the PRC.These nations will be FORCED to move at least 10-20% of their supply chain,to other nations.They have no choice. Bonanza 3 The SBP and the treasury of the private sector,should suck in the Corona rate cuts and packages in EU/Nippon/North East Asia and the USA – and restructure the entire FX loan portfolio,w.r.t tenor,spreads,risk premiums,swaps and hedges. One simple way,is by trade finance,which is based on underlying trade and other activties with those nations. Bonanza 4 After doing 3 and 4 above,the state should invite bids to build and repair infrastructure on BOOT basis.The Cost of infra should reduce by at least 30%,supplemented with long term soft loans and grants. With viable manufacturing and exports,lower cost of debt – an already cheaper infra cost – will make infra financing and operations,all the more viable Bonanza 5 To lock in the gains to the people and industry,the SBP and the State should lock in to NYMEX crude and futures,at current rates (on CBOT or with large funds etc.) – for as long as possible,with reasonable contangos or maximum backwardation.A large nation cannot do this – as it will move the premiums,in the derivatives market. The State should thereafter, lock in the oil and gas rates – and then affix power and fertilisr tarriffs, for the same tenor – with a priority for industrial zones – after meeting the consumer needs.Edible oil contracts can also be struck with large funds,in the USA/EU. This is also the time for the state to declare Force Majeuer on the ulra high cost RPP/IPPs.With reduced power demand,the entire power demand of Pakistan, can be met from fuel and coal plants,at less than half of the previous marginal cost. For several people, this power supply can be free of cost,as the Marginal cost of power on current fuel costs,should be around 1-2 Rupees (which is not worth collecting from marginal users). It is time to celebrate !

  3. Muhammad Shoaib Khan January 13, at 19:26

    What RSS and BJP is doing in india, you better know then me, whereas kulbushan Jadav is the biggest example of state terrorism that is sponsored ny indian govt and RAW. What's your take on that

  4. Jay Mehta March 08, at 04:32

    Several points of interest, however the gist seemed to be anti india propaganda. Does Pakistan deny permitting the usage of its sovereign territory to armed fundamentalist organisations. If it does, it would be a topic of much mirth in the international community. And what about the atrocities and the freedom struggle of the Baloch? The countries' interests would be better served if the ISI and it's Army stopped breeding and feeding terror. Pakistan has tremendous potential. It only needs the right path.

  5. Qasim Bajwa March 07, at 05:56

    Muhammad Shoaib Khan Excellent work, hats off to you.


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