Sovereignty is just an illusion

Sovereignty is a subjective and almost non-existent argument - we really need to tone down the rhetoric.

Anas M Razzaq December 18, 2011
On May 2 this year US special forces entered deep inside Pakistan's territory and effectively killed the world's most wanted terrorist, leaving undetected. This raid, by some, was considered a breach of Pakistan's national sovereignty. Here's a question: hasn't Pakistan's sovereignty already been compromised by the very presence of Osama bin Laden, banned organisations, and wanted terrorists in the country? Isn't it, thus, fair game for international forces to chase them inside Pakistan?

It is only considered a breach of sovereignty when there is “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” according to the United Nations Charter. As far as the US raids in Pakistan are concerned, none of them were for the purpose of overthrowing Pakistan's government, or to change Pakistan's territorial borders.

If examined deeper, sovereignty seems to be a vague issue, especially in today's world. It's a really subjective and an almost non-existent argument. With the rapidly growing influence of globalisation in our societies and international treaties that are meant to eradicate borders and national sovereignty for greater global good, the importance of sovereignty has been replaced by the importance of peace and prosperity.

So when it comes to the global world and greater interests, no nation is truly sovereign. As we become increasingly globalised, our interests are highly intertwined and we become dependent on one another. Each nation is no longer an independent sovereign nation, but rather a citizen of a global world. Being a global citizen comes with rights and responsibilities which include protecting the environment that is shared by everyone, and helping to keep the world safe and free from terrorism.

Organisations like United Nations, World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and treaties like NAFTA, EU, and Euro Zones are all a part of this decreasing national sovereignty and increasing interdependence. These treaties and contracts amongst nations are formed mainly to integrate economies, to have regional and political security, and to act as a deterrence against war.

When countries group together like the European Union, they not only integrate their economies but also enhance their political weight in the world. Many Europeans believed that after World War II, the European nation-states were no longer large enough to hold their own world markets and world politics. There was a need for a united Europe to deal with the United States and the Soviet Union. Hence a union was formed, which not only became an economic giant, but it also became a political power and a prosperous war-free region.

With the recent financial crises, unions like Euro Zone are looking towards more integration and less sovereignty rather than independence and individuality. They are heading towards a fiscal union rather than merely a monetary one. This kind of action would make them equivalent to the US model.

As a member of United Nations, Pakistan has also given up its sovereignty to the rules, regulations, and the decisions of the UN. Pakistan has to comply with United Nation's charter and follow its guidance on laws, especially when they relates to human rights issues. Hence Pakistan's sovereignty doesn't fully exist in the way it is thought to be by some commentators in Pakistan.

The same is true for Pakistan under the International Monetary Fund's guidelines and World Trade Organization's restrictions. Pakistan does not have the freedom to implement any sort of fiscal and monetary policy that isn't approved by these organizations. This also puts restrictions on what Pakistan trades and how it trades with other nations.

These are the issues Pakistan needs to analyse further as a nation; whether they want to live as an isolated nation or join the ranks of many others in becoming a truly global country. This would mean toning down the rhetoric on sovereignty and becoming integrated in the global economies and politics.
Anas M Razzaq A lifelong student and observer of economics, political science, and international relations who is residing in the United States.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Aakasa | 12 years ago | Reply If these international organisations are increasing interdependence and you aspire for Pakistan's autonomy, then do you think Pakistan is ready to abandon dependence and adopt 'independence'?
Tahir | 12 years ago | Reply @author: kidhar ki kidahr la kay jori hai yaar tum nay! Sovereignty is a relative term, accepted. But how can you associate and pitch this concept against an internationally accepted definition? What you term as sovereignty violations in economic terms is in fact interdependence. Let's not confuse the concept of sovereignty as enunciated in UN documents. In your view, territorial integrity only relates to changing the configuration of the borders, which is so untrue. The US violated Pakistan's territorial sovereignty, period.Response paradigm is another issue. Not all sovereignty violations need to be matched with same/ similar response as it is in such cases that sovereignty truly becomes a relative term,
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