Of rocks and harder places

Even the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is dependent upon securing the western route

Editorial July 06, 2017

The visit to Israel by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a heads-up for the world at large. Not only does India have a foreign policy that is changing the shape of the envelope, it has the capacity to see through, much to its advantage, the policies that emerge therefrom. The scale of the welcome for Mr Modi when the entire Israeli cabinet turned out to greet him was itself an indicator that times were changing. Meanwhile, back in Pakistan there are calls for the world to recognise the human rights abuses by India within the Kashmir Valley; and strident appeals for the rest of the world to support our claims. Thus far the rest of the world has presented if not indifference then either neutrality or outright disinterest. That is not going to change, and if this or any other government believes or hopes any different then they need a reality transplant.

The national border is around 4,200kms, most of that taken up with Iran, Afghanistan and India — with a sliver of China. With the exception of China, Pakistan has poor, hostile or fragile relations with all three of the other countries. That is not about to change either and much time in terms of ‘foreign policy’ is taken up with the management of the tensions that exist on all sides. Then there are the Arab states of the Peninsular with whom Pakistan shares no border and precious little in cultural terms. At least one of the Arab states has bailed out Pakistan to the tune of billions of dollars more than once, the price being that those benefactors regard Pakistan as a satrapy.

Inasmuch as Pakistan actually has a foreign policy it is mostly and expensively concerned with crisis response. There are largely symbolic ‘reach-outs’ to the states of Central Asia which if they ever bear fruit are going to be dependent on stability within our own borders. Even the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is dependent upon securing the western route and tens of thousands of troops are to be given the task of ensuring that the road between Kunjerab and Gwadar is safe for traffic. Pakistan is engaged in border management. Foreign policy is a distant dream.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2017.

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