'Pakistan lacks leverage to play Mideast peace broker'

Ex-ambassador Abdul Basit term FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi's visit to Middle East ill-conceived and ill-prepared

News Desk January 14, 2020
File photos of US President Trump (L), PM Imran Khan (C) and Iranian President Rouhani (R)

With Islamabad jetting off on a whirlwind trip around the Middle East in hopes of staving off another crisis in the region — sparked this time due to a US airstrike that left Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani and other senior military and militia leaders dead — the country lacks any sort of leverage to play an effective role meaning that the effort was ill-conceived and ill-prepared.

This was stated by the former high commissioner to India and career diplomat Ambassador (retired) Abdul Basit on Monday while speaking at a seminar on the “Changing Global Power Dynamics: Policy options for Pakistan”. The seminar had been organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Islamabad on Monday.

Basit said that diplomacy is the art of agreeing on the feasible to advance the desirable. However, in the case of Pakistan, there is a lack of any amelioration on the diplomatic front as our foreign missions are not equipped and trained enough to fight the case of the country effectively and promoting the country’s narrative and positive image abroad.

He added that almost every government in the country could not put much sense on hardcore diplomacy, which reflects on how we have been dealing with key subjects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Kashmir issues.

He added that in the current scenario, Pakistan’s diplomatic moves and position seems to betray a lack of tactical clarity, strategic vision, and capacity. He added that amidst the Middle East crisis, the recent visits of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Iran and Saudi Arabia were ill-conceived and ill-prepared, knowing the fact that the situation in ME will not be escalating and the country has very little leverage to play any significant role.

“Owing to the current tension between Tehran and Washington, and Pakistan’s ill-prepared diplomacy to play the role of a mediator to de-escalate the situation in ME, the issue of Kashmir has been put on the back burner,” complained Basit.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2020.


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