Categorized | South Asian Politics

Pakistan Day parade displays diplomatic linkages with other nations

Posted on 01 April 2017 by admin

  Dr. Hasan Askari

  The government of Pakistan is striving hard to improve its diplomatic image at the international level and highlight how Pakistan is making an earnest effort to control religious extremism and terrorism. The impressive parade of three services of the military in Islamabad on March 23 was a major effort to highlight Pakistan’s military strength and their professional quality.

 The March 23 parade remained suspended for some years due to troubled internal security situation. However, last year (2016) the civilian and military authorities felt that the Zarb-i-Azb security operation by the military in North Waziristan and other tribal areas had brought the security situation under control and they could revive the parade. So the parade was held on March 23, 2016.

 This year on March 23, 2017, the parade was held in a more elaborate manner. In fact, the Pakistan Resolution Day was observed more widely all over the country, including in many places in Balochistan. There were three noteworthy features of the parade this year.

 First, China and Saudi Arabia sent two contingents of their Army to participate in the parade. The Chinese contingent was quite large and, for the first time, the troops from two friendly countries participated in the parade. Second, Turkey sent its colorful military band (Mehteran band) also participated in the parade. This band especially played Pakistani national songs in addition to their special band display. Third, South Africa’s Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chief of National Dense Forces General Solly Zacharia Shoke witnessed the parade as an honored guest. The aircraft Fly-Pass was led by Pakistan’s Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman.

 The Pakistan Day parade effectively demonstrated Pakistan’s close linkages with some countries. This is an attempt to challenge the propaganda that Pakistan is being isolated at the international level. Pakistan is also endeavoring to improve its relations with Russia in trade and procurement of military equipment. Russia has also offered to build gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. For the last two years, Pakistan is negotiating with Russia for the purchase of some military purpose helicopter and military equipment. This process is expected to be completed by mid-2017.

 While cultivating Russia, Pakistan needs to recognize that in Russia’s South Asia policy, India continues to be the first priority because of the long established trade relations and Russia’s contribution in building India’s industrial base, especially defense industry. The economic considerations, i.e. trade, sale of weapons to India, supply of machinery and support material for Russian-installed industry sustain Russian stakes in India

 The Russian leadership wants to improve relations with Pakistan in order to increase its options in this region rather than abandon India. In fact, Russia is opting for this strategy because India has cultivated very active relations with the U.S. By stepping up its ties with Pakistan, Russia wants to show to India that it also has new options in foreign policy in region. Therefore, Pakistan has an opportunity to revive its relations with Russia.

 Pakistan is so fascinated by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that it wants to rely on it to undertake all kind of development work all over Pakistan. The original corridor plan amounted to $ 46 billion for linking Kashgar in Xinjiang Province with Gwadar Port via road. Several power generation and other industrial projects will be established along the corridor. Now, several new projects have been added to it which has increased its total investment to over $ 51 billion. As Pakistan is attempting to insert more development projects into it, the Corridor project could become unmanageable. .

 It is advisable to implement the original corridor projects in a manner that the provinces stay satisfied. Once these projects are completed in the shortest possible time and then go to other projects. Such a step-by-step approach can yield better results than the current policy of Pakistani government to increase the projects under the Corridor.

 If Pakistan has to improve its image abroad, it needs to cultivate positive relations with other countries. The Corridor project will link Pakistan not only with China but also with several other countries. Even with Western China, Pakistan will develop extensive bilateral trade with China and China’s transit trade will pass through Pakistan, giving clear benefit to Pakistan, especially to Balochistan.

 While working towards building image at the global level, Pakistan needs to be viewed by others as a safe place for trade and investment and a big market for other countries. This means that Pakistan must continue to address the terrorism and extremism within Pakistan. For this reason, the current counter-terrorism operation named “Raad-ul-Fasad” becomes relevant to the completion of the Corridor project and also for building a better image at the global level.

 Pakistan must work towards improving relations with Afghanistan and Iran. This will increase the importance of the Corridor because these countries would like to be linked with the Corridor.

 Pakistan should assign a priority to dealing with the Kabul government rather than building ties with some Taliban groups to play politics in Afghanistan. The reopening of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is a sensible decision. Hopefully, Pakistan and Afghanistan would abandon their one-sided versions of what has gone wrong with their relations and explore the option of improved relations.

 The U.S., China and Russia want Afghanistan and Pakistan to work in harmony. Though there is no dispute between Iran and Pakistan but their relations are restrained. Paying attention to improving relations with Afghanistan and Iran will strengthen Pakistan’s international image.


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