Categorized | South Asian Politics

PAKISTAN NEEDS TO COCENTRATE ON DOMESTIC ISSUES

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari
Lahore

Most Pakistanis want Pakistan to be the most powerful and prosperous state in the world. They want to live in prosperity, comfort and security with ample opportunities for their children to move ahead in the society. 

  There is nothing wrong in preparing a wish list or dreaming about an ideal situation.  However, if a state and society live only by a wish list and do not want to put their dreams to a reality check, they would feel frustrated for failing to realize the wish list.

   Pakistan can realize most of its wish list and function as a normal state in world community with stable economy provided its policy makers and the politically active circles moderate their wish list keeping in view their actual capacity and resources. They will have to change their mindset from sermonizing others on what should be done and stop waiting for some “sincere leader” to appear for solving their problems. 

  Pakistan will have to seek strength from within its boundaries. It should adopt a low and quiet profile at the global level and work for peace and stability on its border. A low key foreign policy has to be distinguished from isolation. Pakistan cannot afford to be isolated at the global level. It must stay engaged with the rest of the world, especially the major powers. But, it must not get involved in the problems and issues of others that do not directly affect its interests. This will give enough time Pakistani leaders to devote fully to internal problems.

  Pakistan should learn from China’s strategy of modernizing its economy and strengthening itself internally. It has defused tension with all bordering states. It has put aside (not abandoned) its territorial dispute with India. The volume of China’s trade with India is bigger than its trade with Pakistan. It has also developed trade relations with Taiwan and improved relations with other neighbors so that it is able to devote fully to building its economy and strengthening economic ties with the rest of the world. It is expected to continue with this policy to keep its economic development rate in double digit for the next decade or so. This will enable China to project itself effectively at the global level at a later stage.

  Pakistan should postpone its political agenda beyond its border for a decade and devote fully to internal issues and problems. Four issues have to be on the top of the priority list: revival of the economy and international trade, control of religious extremism and militancy, reduction of socio-economic inequities and greater emphasis on quality education and health facilities.

  The 21stcentury is the era of knowledge, especially science and technology, greater movement of people, goods and services across territorial boundaries of the states and the welfare of people. Pakistan should acquire these currencies of power in the coming decades rather than nurturing Islamic militant groups that have transnational ideological and political agendas.

  This calls for toning down anti-America hysteria in Pakistan.  As the Islamic parties and militant groups have found themselves under strong pressure from the U.S. policy in Pakistan and Afghanistan since September 2001 they have turned against the U.S. It is interesting to note that all Islamic parties were generally pro-America and they benefited from American supply of funds and weapons in the 1980s for building up Afghan-Islamic resistance in Pakistan. No Islamic party argued then that the U.S. is enemy of Islam.

  Now, the interests of Pakistan’s Islamic parties have conflicted with the U.S. because the U.S. wants to subdue the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. These Islamic parties argue that if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan all problems of Pakistan will be resolved. This is a naïve solution of complex regional and global problems. Pakistani Taliban have never attacked American target. They target Pakistani state and people in order to dominate them. Their efforts for power and control in Pakistani territory would continue after the exit of the U.S. from Afghanistan.

  This week Pakistan’s Parliament has discussed the security and foreign policy issues for evolving a framework for revising Pakistan’s relations with the U.S. The federal government wants to pursue balanced relations on mutually beneficial terms. However, the Islamist groups somehow want to sever Pakistan’s ties with the West in general and the U.S. in particular. Alternatively, they want the rest of world to pursue foreign policy as demanded by them.

   Pakistan cannot isolate itself from the international community. The success of foreign policy depends on identifying common and shared areas of cooperation. Pakistan will also have to improve its relations with India, expand ties with Iran and seek a friendly Afghanistan. It needs to have good working relations with other countries with a view to its national interests. This cannot be possible with internal socio-economic development and harmony and peace on Pakistan’s borders.

   Do not expect other countries to pursue policies to Pakistan’s satisfaction. The Pakistani civilian and military leaders will have to adopt a realistic approach to put Pakistan’s economic and political house in order based on a down-to-earth reality check of the resources and capacity. Its domestic and foreign policy effort should give primacy in terms of policy-measures to enhance its internal economic strength, political stability and harmony. This can secure Pakistan against external “conspiracies” and enable it to play an active global role at a later stage.

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