Monday, March 5, 2018

Is Pakistan's Global Diplomacy Working?

Diplomacy underlies all ties between nations. Diplomatic relations form the basis of travel, trade and investment between countries. The probability of armed conflict increases in the absence of diplomacy. In light of the recent failure to keep Pakistan off the terror financing watch list, the following question is being asked by political commentators and pundits: Is Pakistan's diplomacy working? To begin to answer this question, let's first look at where Pakistan ranks on Lowy Diplomacy Index. The 2017 Lowy Institute's Global Diplomacy Index visualizes the diplomatic networks of 60 G20, OECD and Asian nations, allowing users to view and compare some of the most significant diplomatic networks in the world.

Pakistani Diplomatic Mission Around the World. Source: Lowy Institute
Lowy Institute Data:

Pakistan has 116 diplomatic missions around the world. This figure includes 85 embassies, 29 consulates and 2 permanent missions. Pakistan ranks 27th among 60 countries ranked by Lowy. It ranks 7th in Asia .

Pakistan's arch-rival India has 181 missions, including 124 embassies and 48 consulates. India ranks 12th in the world and 3rd in Asia on Lowy Diplomacy Index. United States is number 1 and China is number 2 on diplomacy index. US has 273 diplomatic missions while China has 268. France ranks 3rd, Russia 4th and Japan 5th in the world.

Foreign Policy Objectives:

Pakistan does have a large network of diplomats and extensive presence of diplomatic missions around the world. But what is it for? The answer to this question requires understanding Pakistan's foreign policy objectives.

Pakistan, like any other nation, needs to ensure its national security in all its dimensions: political, economic and military. The nation has to participate in various international fora. It needs to project its soft power to cultivate friendly cultural and educational ties. Part of it is encouraging people-to-people contacts by promoting travel, trade and tourism.

Pakistani Diplomats Responsibilities:

Pakistan foreign service officers posted around the world have the responsibility to not only project Pakistan and its policies in a positive way but also to be the nation's eyes and ears giving information and feedback to policymakers back home.

Pakistani diplomats need to engage with their host nation's influencers as well as other nations' diplomats in foreign capitals and international institutions to promote friendship and goodwill for advancing Pakistan's foreign policy agenda.

Pakistani Diaspora:

Pakistani missions have the responsibility to provide services to 9-million strong Pakistani diaspora, the world's sixth largest.  This diaspora not only sends home nearly $20 billion a year but can also help in promoting Pakistan's friendly ties with the host nations. Pakistani diaspora represents a huge market opportunity for Pakistani exporters. Highly accomplished overseas Pakistanis can be a source of investment and expertise for their country of origin.

International Geopolitics:

All policies must take into account the shifting geopolitics of the world.  Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger put it best when he said: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”

Rapidly unfolding events confirm shifting post-cold-war alliances in South Asia. The Cold War ended in early 1990s when Pakistan was closely allied with the United States. Now China-Pakistan defense collaboration is strengthening. Chinese President Xi Jinping has committed investment of over $45 billion in Pakistan, representing the single largest Chinese investment in a foreign country to date.

Pakistan's Key Relationships:

Pakistan's key relationships are with China, US, India, Russia, Afghanistan, Iran and the European Union. These relationships require the greatest attention by Pakistani foreign and security policy establishment to advance the country's foreign policy agenda.

These relationships need the most care and feeding to achieve the objectives of peace, development, security and prosperity. The best and the brightest of Pakistani diplomats need to  be assigned to manage these crucial ties.

Current Assessment:

It's not fair to judge the entire foreign policy establishment based on the negative outcome of just one meeting at FATF. However, Pakistan needs to learn from it and fashion its policy in a rapidly evolving geopolitical reordering. Long term, Pakistan needs to continue to cultivate close ties with its traditional friends in China and the Middle East.  Pakistan must take seriously what Henry Kissinger said about US friendships: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” It must also assume that other leaders in the rest of the world say privately what Kissinger said publicly. 


 Diplomacy underlies all ties between nations. Diplomatic relations form the basis of travel, trade and investment between countries. Pakistan ranks 27th in the world and 7th in Asia on Lowy Diplomacy Index. The 2017 Lowy Institute's Global Diplomacy Index visualizes the diplomatic networks of 60 G20, OECD and Asian nations, allowing users to view and compare some of the most significant diplomatic networks in the world.
In light of the recent failure to keep Pakistan off the terror financing list, the following question is being asked by political commentators and pundits: Is Pakistan's diplomacy working?   It's not fair to judge the entire foreign policy establishment based on the negative outcome of just one meeting at FATF. However, Pakistan needs to learn from it and fashion its policy in a rapidly evolving geopolitical reordering. Long term, Pakistan needs to continue to cultivate close ties with its traditional friends in China and the Middle East.  Pakistan must take seriously what Henry Kissinger said about US friendships: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” It must also assume that other leaders in the rest of the world say privately what Kissinger said publicly. 

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Mo said...

With gas and diplomacy, Russia embraces Cold War foe Pakistan
Drazen Jorgic

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - As U.S. influence in Islamabad wanes, Pakistan’s former adversary Russia is building military, diplomatic and economic ties that could upend historic alliances in the region and open up a fast-growing gas market for Moscow’s energy companies.

Russia’s embrace of Pakistan comes at a time when relations between the United States and its historical ally are unraveling over the war in Afghanistan, a remarkable turnaround from the 1980s, when Pakistan helped funnel weapons and U.S. spies across the border to aid Afghan fighters battling Soviet troops.

Though the Moscow-Islamabad rapprochement is in its infancy, and it is neighbor China that is filling the growing void left by the United States in Pakistan, a slew of energy deals and growing military cooperation promise to spark life into the Russia-Pakistan relationship that was dead for many decades.

“It is an opening,” Khurram Dastgir Khan, Pakistan’s defense minister, told Reuters.“Both countries have to work through the past to open the door to the future.”

The cozier diplomatic ties have so far focused on Afghanistan, where Russia has cultivated ties to the Afghan Taliban militants who are fighting U.S. troops and have historic links to Islamabad. Moscow says it is encouraging peace negotiations.

Both Russia and Pakistan are also alarmed by the presence of Islamic State (IS) inside Afghanistan, with Moscow concerned the group’s fighters could spread towards central Asia and closer to home. In Pakistan, IS has already carried out major attacks.

“We have common ground on most issues at diplomatic levels,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Reuters.“It’s a relationship that will grow substantially in the future.”

During a trip to Moscow last month by Pakistan’s foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, the two countries announced plans to establish a commission on military cooperation to combat the threat of IS in the region.

They also agreed to continue annual military training exercises that began in 2016 and followed the sale of four Russian attack helicopters to Pakistan, as well as the purchase of Russian engines for the Pakistan Air Force’s JF-17 fighter jets that Pakistan’s military assembles on its own soil.

The detente has been watched with suspicion by Pakistan’s neighbor and arch-foe India, which broadly stood in the Soviet camp during the Cold War era. In the last two decades, the close Russia-India relationship has been underpinned by huge arms sales by Moscow to a country it calls a“strategic partner”.

“If the Russians start backing the Pakistanis in a big way at the political level, then it creates a problem for us,” said Sushant Sareen, a leading expert on India’s relations to Pakistan and Afghanistan with New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt from the Hindu: It’s time to reimagine South Asia: On India-China-Pakistan cooperation
Sudheendra Kulkarni

In other words, can China become a part of the solution, rather than being perceived as a part of the India-Pakistan problem? A three-way India-China-Pakistan cooperation is not only necessary but indeed possible, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides a practical framework for such partnership. Unfortunately, Mr. Modi has allowed himself to be misled by his advisers on the BRI. The government’s opposition to the BRI is based, among other things, on the myopic argument that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the BRI, violates India’s sovereignty since it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Not only does this argument hold no water but it also undermines India’s long-term development and security interests. First, CPEC does not recognise PoK to be Pakistan’s sovereign territory. Article VI in the 1963 China-Pakistan boundary agreement clearly states in that “after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the sovereign authority concerned will reopen negotiations with the Government of the People’s Republic of China....” Second, there is little possibility of India ever getting PoK (Azad Kashmir), or Pakistan ever getting the Indian side of Kashmir, through war or by any other means. Therefore, connectivity, cooperation and economic integration are the only realistic bases for any future India-Pakistan settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

Third, and most important, both China and Pakistan have stated that they are open to India joining CPEC. China has also expressed its readiness to rename CPEC suitably to both address India’s concerns and to reflect the project’s expanded regional scope. Already, Iran, Afghanistan and several Central Asian republics have agreed to join this ambitious regional connectivity project. Will it help or hurt India if it joins this renamed initiative as an equal partner? Will it not connect Lahore and Amritsar (also Delhi and the rest of India), the two sides of Kashmir (which all Kashmir-based political parties want), Sindh and southern Punjab with Gujarat and Rajasthan, and Karachi with Mumbai?

Riaz Haq said...

EU Parliament Grants Pakistan Special Trade Status Despite Human Rights Warnings

MARCH 2, 2018

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament warned Pakistan last week that the renewal of its favored status trade deal would be dependent upon the government’s release of a woman, Asia Bibi, who has been held on death row on a blasphemy case since 2010.

Prior to adjournment, however, the parliament voted to continue to extend economic favor to Pakistan despite the fact that the woman’s appeal is still pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The extracted delay has been decried as a human rights issue that must be addressed not only by the EU but by other organizations around the world.

From a global standpoint, the European Union has held the greatest leverage to prompt action by Pakistan leadership. The EU granted Pakistan Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) in 2013. Under this special trading status, 20% of the country’s exports to the EU have been tariff-free. Another 70% of their exports were tariffed at preferential rates.

In 2016, Pakistan exports to the EU were valued at € 6.173 billion (≈ $1.7 billion USD). That represented a 53.6% increase in export trade since gaining the GPS+ status. The loss of that status would deal the country a severe economic blow, in effect, making it incapable of competing successfully with other South Asian nations.

In light of a previous statement by Pakistani leadership that “gaining access to European markets was the top-most priority of the government,” the EU parliament pressed for action in the Asia Bibi case.

The case was reviewed by three Ministers of the European Parliament, including one from Pakistan. While the Christian Union Party lobbied against extending GPS+ status based “on questions regarding minority rights in Pakistan,” the recommendation to the parliament was to extend the special status base on the country’s ability to demonstrate “full and sincere compliance with 27 human rights conventions.”

Pakistan continues to enjoy the European Union’s GPS+ status. The human rights issue of Asia Bibi is ongoing but remains unresolved.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan total #remittances from #Diaspora up 3.4% in 8 months over last fiscal year, down 14% from #Saudi Arabia

Pakistan received remittances amounting to $1.639 billion in February 2018, up 2.32% compared with $1.417 billion in the same month of the previous year, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Overall, overseas Pakistani workers remitted $12.834 billion in the first eight months (July to February) of fiscal year 2018, up 3.4% compared with $12.411 billion received during the same period of the preceding year.

Remittances play a major role in stabilising Pakistan’s external sector as it largely covers the deficit in the trade of goods account. Nevertheless, in recent times, they have come under pressure due to a global economic slowdown on the back of low crude oil prices.

Country-wise breakdown

In February 2018, Pakistan received $201 million in remittances from the UK, which is 17.5% higher than $171 million that the country received in the same month of the previous year.

Remittances increase 8.72%, amount to $1.724b in Dec

In the first eight months (Jul-Feb) of fiscal year 2017-18, remittances coming from the UK jumped by 23% to $1.786 billion from $1.449 billion in the same period of last year.

The value of the UK pound has gained over 6% against the rupee in the last few months. This is one of the highest jumps shown by any major foreign currency against the rupee in the open market.

Analysts believe, apart from other factors, the increase in the value of any particular foreign currency encourages overseas Pakistanis to send back more money.

Similarly, an increase was also noted in remittances coming from the US as the country received $207 million in February 2018, up 16% compared with $178 million in the same month last year.

Overall, remittances from the US in the first eight months of current fiscal year increased by 12% to $1.712 billion from $1.525 billion.

Pakistan received $332 million in February 2018 from the UAE, up 3.75% compared with $320 million from the same month of the last year.

Remittances from the GCC countries (other than UAE and Saudi Arabia) declined by 11% to $149 million in February 2018, compared with $168 million in the same month in 2017.

Whereas, remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries (combined) during February 2018 increased to $163 million, up 13% compared with $144 million received in February 2017.

Pew Research Center report: The flow of remittances in and out of Pakistan

Overseas Pakistanis living in the European Union (EU) sent back $49 million in February 2018, up 53% compared with $32 million in the same month of last year.

Saudi Arabia left behind

Remittances from Saudi Arabia – the most important source of remittances for Pakistan – have shown declining trends in recent months.

Remittances from Gulf countries, which have historically accounted for the largest share annually, dropped drastically due to a sharp fall in crude oil prices that hurt the region’s economies.

Pakistan received remittances of $348 million from Saudi Arabia in February 2018, down 14% compared with $404 million in the same month of 2017.

Riaz Haq said...

Globalisation Index 2016 (Trade, capital, information and people) : As world became less connected, India fell 16 spots over 11 years; scores lower on trade, FDI

As flows of trade and people fell the world over since the 2008 global financial crash, India dropped 16 spots to 78 (Pakistan 99) from 62 among 140 countries in 11 years , from 2005 to 2015, on a globalisation index brought out by international logistics company DHL.

The Global Connectedness Index 2016, the fourth since it was first released in 2011, prepared by Pankaj Ghemawat and Steven A Altman (both teach management at New York University Stern School of Business, United States) was released on 15 November, 2016.

The authors slotted India in the central and south Asia group along with Georgia, Turkey, Nepal, Pakistan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic and Sri Lanka.

India ranked 133 (Pakistan 137) on depth and 21 ( Pakistan 32) on breadth among 140 countries in 2015.

The index measures the parameters on depth and breadth. Depth evaluates the extent to which countries' international flows are distributed globally or more narrowly focused, while breadth compares countries' international flows to the sizes of their domestic economies.

Trade flows are measured by exports as a share of a country's gross domestic product, capital by foreign direct investment as a share of a country's gross fixed capital and international stock market investment, information by international connectivity and people by share of international tourists and university students and migrants as a share of the population.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan is About to Get a $7 Billion Capital Infusion and 1,000 New #Garment Plants to Revive its #Textile Industry. #exports #RMG

Pakistan and its textile sector have been facing challenging times in recent years, owed in part to costs of production increasing at a pace faster than its neighboring competitors, but a new infusion of funds could help get the country back on better footing.

The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) announced that its members have a plan to increase investment in Pakistan’s textile industry by establishing 1,000 garment manufacturing plants with a total of $7 billion in investments, according to Pakistan’s The Express Tribune.

The plan is to set up garment plants near major textile producing cities like Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Kasur, Multan, Sialkot, Rawalpindi, Karachi and Peshawar, with the plants installing half a million stitching machines, which will boost annual production to 3 billion pieces.

Pakistan’s textile industry has experienced decreasing investments over the last decade, as potential investors have been hesitant to make new investment due to high business costs. This has caused the sector to miss out on technological advantages to its competitors.

New investments dropped to more than half a billion rupees ($4.52 million) in 2016-17, compared to 1 billion rupees ($9 million) in 2005-06, the Tribune said citing APTMA. Further, currently about 35 percent of the textile industry’s production capacity was damaged, causing loss of approximately $4.14 billion worth of potential exports.

Once the proposal is implemented, the industry will need an additional 10.3 million bales of raw cotton, 345 million kilograms of manmade fiber, 1.98 billion kilograms of additional yarn and an additional 7.93 billion square meters of processed fiber. However, cotton-producing area and cotton production have decreased 30 percent and 38 percent, respectively, in Punjab since 2011.

Although the textile sector performed poorly overall, readymade garments did show reasonable growth. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, exports of readymade garments registered 5.55% year-on-year growth against the overall flat growth of the textile sector, which stood at $12.45 billion in 2016-17.

APTMA members has reportedly provided the government with a long list of corrective and conducive policy measure demands in return for their investments, including implementation of long-term policies, like consistent nationwide energy prices, removal of 3.50 rupees (3 cents) per kilowatt hour surcharge on electricity tariff, an extension of the duty drawback scheme for five years and drawbacks to be increased every year by 1 percent for garments (up to 12 percent) and made-ups (up to 10 percent) against realization of export proceeds.

The proposal also suggested the government allow LTFF (long-term financing facility) to indirect exports, Islamic financing and building of infrastructure for garment plants.

Riaz Haq said...

#Remittances from #diaspora keep #Pakistan's economy afloat. Estimates average from $1.7 to $1.9 billion a month, adding up to $22 billion per year. #IMF #Reserves #bailout #exports #trade #imports

Pakistan's economic lifeline is its remittances. A staggering $2billion from overseas Pakistanis per month on an average is a blessing in disguise for the cash-starved economy and has widely helped in balancing payments towards imports, especially oil. They have acted as a catalyst in growth and investments. Undisputedly, it is one of the primary sources of foreign exchange reserves for the country and for an economy, which is ridden with inflation and slump in exports, the annual subscription of more than $25 billion acts as its backbone.

The good point is that despite somersaults on the global economic level and a nosedive, Pakistanis have stood fast in retaining their culture of remitting back home, and have widely entrusted the country's banks and other legal avenues for transfer of funds. Despite a wide gap in the dollar rates in open and banking markets, overseas Pakistanis preferred to send money mostly through the banking channel. This reflects their confidence in the government, as well as banks operating in Pakistan. The State Bank of Pakistan, in one of its recent reports, said that Pakistan has fared relatively better than other regional countries concerning foreign remittances.

Estimates say an average of $1.7 to $1.9 billion is received on a monthly basis, which accounts for a staggering $22 billion per annum. Most of the remittances are from the Middle East and Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman. Payments from all important destinations, except Saudi Arabia, showed positive growth. Inflows from the kingdom declined 7.5 per cent during the last fiscal year to the tune of 5.5 per cent. Nonetheless, Pakistan received $2.5 billion from Saudi Arabia in the year 2017. The second highest inflow is from the United Arab Emirates, which increased 1.13 per cent to $2.2bn.

A silent but sizeable chunk of remittances, although on a quarterly and six-monthly basis, are also registered from the United States, the European Union, South Africa and Australia. Many of the Far East Asian countries, especially Malaysia and Hong Kong, Korea and Japan also are potential remittances pockets. Remittances from the US have also seen an upward trend by around 10 per cent, to cross the barrier of one billion dollars per quarter. Similarly, inflows from the UK also recorded an increase of 23 per cent to $1.35 billion.

This primarily acts as seed money for the country's balance of payments, and to a great extent compensates for lack of foreign investment and slowdown in portfolio investments. The pre-budget Economic Review, however, estimated that remittances could grow by 50 per cent if the government provides due incentives to its non-resident citizens, and ensures that their foreign exchange is safe and reusable in the same currency. Likewise, remittances directly deposited in Pakistani bank accounts can also get a boost and shoot up to $100 billion - a retained safe territory, if stringent measures are taken and assurances on withdrawals limits are waived.

The free flow of foreign currency in the form of remittances can lift the economy to new heights. Pakistani foreign currency accounts maintained abroad are in billions of dollars, and a submission in the Senate of Pakistan said that they account for around $800 billion. That money sooner than later should be in the mainstream of Pakistan economy, provided anti-money laundering policies get thumbs up.

Riaz Haq said...

Both #India and #Pakistan have had 14 terms each as non-permanent #members of #UNSC behind #Japan 22, #Brazil 20, #Argentina 18

Source: @worldindex

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Scores a Rare Diplomatic Victory on #Kashmir. The #oicinmog2018 condemning ‘#Indian #terrorism ’ in Kashmir is a diplomatic triumph for Pakistan. #Modi #Muslims #Islamophobia #Hindutva @Diplomat_APAC

On Monday, the General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) issued a condemnation for the “wicked terrorist act by Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir” after seven civilians were killed in Pulwama district on Saturday.

The OIC condemnation came after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi wrote to the secretary general, with the United Nations secretary general and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also being approached.

While the OIC has called out Indian state brutalities in the past, the severity of the language in its latest statement is unprecedented, with the group categorically dubbing the Indian armed forces’ action “terrorism.”

Over the years, the OIC has largely expressed “deep concern” and “disappointment” and requested “restraint” in Indian-administered Kashmir. Even when violence escalated in summar 2016 following militant commander Burhan Wani’s killing in Kashmir, the then-OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani could only “express sorrow.”

Therefore, the language of the OIC’s condemnation this week is a clear diplomatic triumph for Pakistan, which has seen its narrative on Kashmir being increasingly ignored around the world, including Muslim states.

This was perfectly epitomized at the U.S. President Donald Trump-led Arab Islamic American summit in Riyadh last year. Trump, speaking amid representatives of the Muslim world, not only snubbed Pakistan, but actually called out Kashmiri separatist militancy as “terrorism.”

Probably the greatest demonstration of Muslim states’ indifference toward Kashmir is Saudi Arabia signing defense and counterterror pacts with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, under whose watch there has been an increase in anti-Muslim violence across India.

Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation, and the decreasing number of takers of its position in Kashmir, means that Islamabad has been increasingly hyphenating Kashmir and Palestine in a bid to gather more support around the world. Yet the Palestinian leadership has failed to back Pakistan’s Kashmir stance, and Israel maintains “there is no difference between Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hamas.” Islamabad has largely been devoid of diplomatic backing.

Hence, at a time while Islamist militancy is being universally shunned as terrorism, for the OIC to describe Indian state action as such provides legitimacy to Islamabad’s Islamist narrative – even if the backing has come from a group that represents Muslim states.

Pakistan will be looking to cash in on the diplomatic brownie points that it has won against India. Even so, Pakistan’s leaders are clearly not giving any thought to how Islamabad’s Islamist narrative on Kashmir has been detrimental for Pakistan itself.

The mullah-military stranglehold over the country has brewed jihadism in Pakistan for decades, with the military establishment’s desire to channelize militant Islamist groups toward India and Afghanistan having resulted in a boomeranging of terror on the state itself.

While tens of thousands of lost their lives owing to the jihadist maneuvers of the groups that got out of the Pakistan Army’s control, it has been mainstreaming the outfits so as to keep a check on the civilian leadership.

Hence, upholding the Islamist narrative continues to fuel jihadism in Kashmir, while sustaining the multipurpose “strategic assets,” whose militants are deployed for cross-border assignments while their political wings clip civilian authority.


Riaz Haq said...

Foreign policy agenda 2019
Munir AkramUpdated December 23, 2018

UNLIKE its daunting domestic objectives, Pakistan’s external agenda, though challenging, is fairly clear. And, although overstretched, Islama­bad has the capacity in its Foreign Service and the ‘security establishment’ to address this agenda.

Building the Pakistan-China strategic partnership: China has the strategic motivation and financial, technological and weapons capabilities to help Pakistan emerge as a militarily strong and economically dynamic state. The substance and depth of the future strategic partnership will depend mainly on the ability of the Pakistan government and its private sector to conceive and execute cooperative projects and ventures with China. A special entity dedicated to timely and efficient implementation of CPEC could be decisive in realising its full potential.

Managing Sino-US rivalry: The Trump administration has designated China as a strategic competitor and opposes China’s Belt and Road Initiative including its flagship, CPEC. The US diplomatic and media onslaught against China and CPEC has intensified. In fact, China’s investment and infrastructure building can help stabilise the entire South Asian region including Afghanistan. With growing indications that Donald Trump wants a hurried withdrawal from Afghanistan, agreement on the role China can and should play in stabilising the region must become a priority for Pakistan’s regional diplomacy.

Pakistan should revive its traditional leadership role in the Muslim world.

Afghanistan: Pakistan and US positions appeared to converge recently as the US belatedly accepted the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan and opened direct talks with the Afghan Taliban which Pakistan facilitated. However, the entire negotiating process, including the one initiated by US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, may be thrown in disarray by Trump’s announcement to withdraw 7,000 US troops from Afghanistan. Sensing US abandonment, and under unrelenting Taliban pressure, the Kabul ‘unity’ government, even the Afghan National Army, may collapse, reviving the likelihood of another prolonged civil war.

Read: First Pak-aided US-Taliban talks held in UAE

Pakistan’s diplomacy must work simultaneously with the US and China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia to prevent civil war and promote a viable political settlement in Afghanistan. A conference involving these states and major Afghan parties could be convened to draw up the broad parameters of such a settlement.

Pakistan-US: In Trump’s ‘America First’ environment, there is a growing ‘Washington Consensus’ against China, Russia and the Muslim world, including compliant ‘allies’. The US has been reluctant to acknowledge Pakistan’s cooperation on Afghanistan and continued to adopt punitive measures against it. If the US leaves Afghanistan without a political settlement, it may feel free to take further action against Pakistan. Islamabad needs to negotiate the structure of its future ties with the US in tandem with arrangements for US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. After America’s exit, Pakistan’s leverage will be diminished.

Kashmir and India: It is evident that Imran Khan, the PTI government and Pakistan’s army chief desire normalisation with India. This sentiment is not reciprocated, although Pakistan’s unilateral gesture of opening the Kartarpur corridor put New Delhi temporarily on the defensive. In the run-up to the 2019 Indian elections, the Modi government may seek to revive its flagging political fortunes by generating hostility against Pakistan, or even ‘limited’ military action, on some cooked-up pretext. Pakistan must remain vigilant and defeat any aggressive move.

Riaz Haq said...

Foreign policy agenda 2019
Munir AkramUpdated December 23, 2018

Kashmir and India: It is evident that Imran Khan, the PTI government and Pakistan’s army chief desire normalisation with India. This sentiment is not reciprocated, although Pakistan’s unilateral gesture of opening the Kartarpur corridor put New Delhi temporarily on the defensive. In the run-up to the 2019 Indian elections, the Modi government may seek to revive its flagging political fortunes by generating hostility against Pakistan, or even ‘limited’ military action, on some cooked-up pretext. Pakistan must remain vigilant and defeat any aggressive move.

Normalisation with India is highly unlikely so long as it continues its oppression in occupied Kashmir and refuses to resume a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan. To defend Kashmiris’ fundamental rights, Pakistan must launch an international diplomatic and media campaign to project and condemn India’s human rights violations in occupied Kashmir (confirmed and documented in the recent report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights).

Terrorism: India’s campaign to portray Pakistan as a sponsor of ‘terrorism’ is designed to constrict Islamabad’s ability to advance its national security and economic development goals. Fortunately, this campaign, although supported by the US, has failed so far. Pakistan must kill it. To this end, it could: 1) fulfil its obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions (placing required restraints on designated entities and persons); 2) insist on elimination of the BLA and TTP presence from Afghanistan in the context of an Afghan political settlement, and 3) launch a diplomatic and media campaign to project India’s state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and from Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Saudi Arabia and Iran: The government has, by force of circumstance, revived Pakistan’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Their financial support is essential at present to keep the economy afloat. The future commercial viability of Gwadar (and CPEC) depends to a considerable extent on its emergence as the oil and gas transshipment centre and a petrochemical complex. This will become feasible if Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies route a part of their oil, gas and refined product exports through Gwadar to China.

Pakistan should resist the urge to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran, at least for now. Pakistan’s ties with Iran are vital and Saudi-Iranian reconciliation is essential for regional peace and stability. However, the US and Israel are likely to subvert mediatory efforts. Riyadh is vulnerable to US pressure at this time. Pakistan still has issues to resolve with Iran including the reported presence of RAW operatives on its soil and cross-border incidents eg the recent attack on the FC patrol.

Economic diplomacy: Pakistan’s diplomats and embassies should play a larger role in promoting trade and investment. But Pakistan must first be able to produce goods and services it can export and create the economic environment conducive for foreign investment.

Islamic world: Pakistan should revive its traditional leadership role in the Muslim world which confronts multiple challenges. An initiative to provide humanitarian support to Muslims in occupied territories and war zones could be a worthy initiative.

Global challenges: Nor should Pakistan discard its traditional leadership role at the UN and other international fora. Although by population Pakistan is the sixth largest country, it has been excluded from most groupings of the powerful — G20, BRICS, APEC, etc. Yet, by this very token, Pakistan is well placed to lead the vast majority of developing countries, which have also been excluded from these ‘elite’ groups, and ensure their voices are heard on global issues like climate change, development and disarmament.

Riaz Haq said...

2018 in review: Pakistan's foreign relations in flux
A look at all the ups and downs in Pakistan's relations with key countries in the outgoing year.

Pakistan had a busy 2018 with regards to developments on the external front.

The Foreign Office diary was full of new chapters on Pakistan's ties with the United States, China, India and Afghanistan. Some estranged allies, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), also featured prominently in the second half of the year after pledging financial support to shore up Pakistan's sagging economy.

Turkey and Malaysia too found honourable mention.

While Turkey was the only country to support Pakistan against a US move to put it on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, it also vowed to support the country on the matter of Kashmir in the United Nations.

Similarly, Malaysia welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan on his first visit to the country, and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also accepted PM Khan's invitation to visit Pakistan on March 23 next year.

The visit was marked by goodwill and bonhomie, which wasn't surprising given the similarities between the anti-graft missions of both heads of state and the circumstances in which they assumed power in their respective countries.

Take a look at the key developments in Pakistan's foreign relations by clicking on the tabs below.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan foreign policy 101
Ashraf Jehangir QaziUpdated January 26, 2019

Pakistan has 10 major external relationships. Primarily: India, China, the US, and Afghanistan; and significantly: Iran, the GCC countries, Russia, the European Union (which still includes the UK,) the Central Asian states, and the UN.

India is Pakistan’s major adversary. China is Pakistan’s only strategic partner. The US is still the world’s mightiest and only comprehensive global power. Afghanistan is a force multiplier for Pakistan’s security or insecurity. Iran confronts Pakistan with critical choices.

Powerful vested interests define the national interest and make foreign policy. What is to be done?

The GCC countries are a major source of remittances and ‘brotherly’ assistance which almost always entails an embarrassing price.

Russia in partnership with China is a significant counterforce to the US and its alliance with India. Moreover, it has the potential to bring about a less imbalanced Russian policy towards India and Pakistan.

The EU is a major market and the Pakistani community in the UK (and the US) can be a foreign policy asset.

Central Asia can provide ‘strategic depth’ to Pakistan’s connectivity-based diplomacy. Improving cooperation with Russia can help here also.

The UN may seem irrelevant. It is not. It is where a country’s image, profile and voice are confirmed and contested. It is the forum in which the credibility of a foreign policy is measured. Its agencies, funds and organisations can be important knowledge-intensive and problem-solving assets.

Due to space limitations only Pakistan’s four ‘primary’ relationships will be very briefly commented on.

India: The core issues for Pakistan are progress towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable to opinion in the Valley and radically improving the horrendous human rights situation there. For India it is Pakistan’s use of “terrorist proxies”.

These core issues need to be addressed to the satisfaction of each other if dialogue is to be meaningful. Finding common ground for a negotiating process to be sustainable is a challenge.

Indian interference in Balochistan is a fact. However, the Balochistan ‘problem’ is not of India’s making. It is due to institutionalised bad governance and exploitation over decades.

Pakistan should continue to extend its hand of cooperation irrespective of a lack of response from India. It should keep the LoC quiet as best it can. It should build on the Kartarpur initiative. It should extend normal trading or MFN rights as promised. This is arguably a WTO obligation also.

Pakistan should offer travel, communications, confidence and security-building (including regular nuclear and water-management) discussions and proposals. Let India take its time to respond. Pakis­tan cannot lose by being consistent and reasonable.

Realistic rather than provocative narratives need to be developed. The people of both countries need to get to know each other more directly instead of through warped images.

Differences need to be contained, addressed and reduced through a realistic working relationship. This will enable South Asia to meet the survival challenges of the 21st century.

The leaders of both countries should make appropriate statements, stay in touch, and unfold a range of innovative initiatives. If India demurs, even after its elections, that is its problem.

China: The BRI and CPEC are golden opportunities for Pakistan. But they are not magic wands. Moreover, no other country is willing to invest on such a scale in Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to look after its own interests without making disconcerting public statements. It needs to assure the Chinese that it is a reliable economic and strategic partner.

Riaz Haq said...

Globalization of #Pakistan Army. It has global diplomatic footprint including defense diplomacy, conflict resolution, peacekeeping, international education and last by no means lest – #military sales and #defense cooperation. #pakistanarmedforces @TRTWorld

The Pakistan Army is making a concerted effort to relieve itself of its dependency on the US, and it might be working.
As the recent National Day military parade shows, the Pakistan Army now has a global diplomatic footprint that is turning into a multi-faceted force that includes defence diplomacy, conflict resolution and peacekeeping, international education and last by no means lest – military sales and defence cooperation.

It is a sharp contrast to September 11, 2001 – when under pressure and isolation threats, the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Musharraf buckled under American pressure. Almost two decades on, the Pakistan Army has become one of the most international armies in the world – more than three dozen militaries from around the world from Latin America to Australia are undergoing training in Pakistan’s various service staff colleges, and defence cooperation with emerging BRICS powers is at an all-time high.

The diversification also underpins the new geopolitical realities of the army – unlike 2001 – it has nothing to fear as its allies and strategic outreach diversifies beyond an old dependence on American equipment and financial aid.

The legacy of American dependency

After September 11, 2001, one could hardly blame Musharraf as he realised the limitations of the army’s fighting position – after a decade of US sanctions following the Pressler Amendment, Pakistan’s military was in bad shape and could not challenge any American threats.

The Pakistan Air Force and the two dozen F-16s were hardly in a serviceable condition - its force was almost wholly just trained to fight on its eastern border rather than a counter-insurgency on the Afghan border as the Americans were demanding.

The US has been blackmailing Pakistan for almost three decades on the sale of F-16s, even the ones that Pakistan paid for were not delivered – and only after Pakistan agreed to take part in the global war on terror did F16s start arriving after two decades.

Even then Pakistan had to go to Turkey and Jordan for the delivery as a more reliable partner albeit with American permission. Pakistan is also yet to take delivery of Bell AH-1Z helicopter – the first batch was meant for delivery in 2017.

As of last autumn, it was reported that these latest sales are being blocked and kept in storage after Trump’s cancellation of military aid. It is here where American foreign military sales—while still in demand—are no more a considerable nuisance for Pakistan. Over the last decade, Pakistan has firmly moved away from dependency on American military equipment and towards new international partnerships and self-reliance through an indigenous weapons program.

Pakistan’s international training program

Just as the US announced last year it would cut Pakistani military participation in its elite training institution, the Russians signed a historic first welcoming Pakistani officers at their top military academies and colleges. Not only is this a complete reversal of Pakistan’s Russia policy but also a new era of Pakistan’s defence diplomacy. Similarly, the two have now set up regular training exercises, and Pakistan has bought attack helicopters.

Beyond just being at the receiving end of training, Pakistan had become the first non-Western army to have a platoon commander at the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst, when Major Uqbah Hadeed Malik became the first Pakistani instructor at the world’s premier defence academy. Under Uqbah’s command the finest British officers and international cadets went on to graduate – subsequently Uqbah’s successor, Major Umar Farooq won the prestigious Sovereign Platoon, the best-trained unit at Sandhurst.

Riaz Haq said...

#Kavkaz2020: Why #Russia’s Latest #Military Drills Are a Golden Opportunity for #Pakistan! 18 nations, including #China, Pakistan & Central Asian nations are participating. #India has withdrawn from opportunity for military diplomacy. @Diplomat_APAC

Pakistan can also use the opportunity to reset relations closer to home. The scenic Wakan corridor separates Pakistan and Tajikistan and at their closest point, the two countries are a mere 10 miles apart. Despite historical and cultural ties between the two Asian nations (both were part of the Arab Umayyad and Persian Empires) and their joint participation in several infrastructure and energy projects (the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Program), Tajikistan plays host to India’s only air force base outside of its borders. The Farkhor Air Base lies around 81 miles southeast of Dushanbe and perilously close to Pakistan’s northern border with Afghanistan. Indian fighter jets taking off from the base can reach Pakistani airspace in little more than a few minutes.

Naturally, this has put a significant strain on relations with Islamabad. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are no major military ties or significant arms deals between Pakistan and Tajikistan, and if the former plays its cards right, it could use the drills as an opportunity to pull Tajikistan away from India’s military grip.

Military drills are often seen as a show of common strength between allies and a warning to others. However, for Pakistan it would be wise not to see these drills as a show of strength, but rather as an important opportunity to further its relationship with the former Soviet World. India’s recent decision to stay away from Kavkaz 2020 along with the sheer number of former Soviet states participating in them suggests a golden opportunity Pakistan cannot afford to ignore.

Riaz Haq said...

Lowy Institute Power Index: Pakistan is a middle power in Asia.

The country’s overall score has remained unchanged over the past year.

Pakistan performs best in the future resources measure, where it places 7th, reflecting an anticipated demographic dividend to 2050. Its lowest ranking is in the economic relationships measure, coming in at 20th place.

In 2020, Pakistan saw its greatest improvement in economic capability, resilience and diplomatic influence, where it moved up one place. However, it has also slipped by two places in the defence networks measure relative to 2019.

Pakistan exerts less influence in the region than expected given its available resources, as indicated by the country’s negative power gap score. While Pakistan is a net underachiever in Asia, its negative power gap improved in 2020.


Pakistan 15th most powerful country in Asia with biggest gains in diplomatic influence: Report

Pakistan's major improvement has been in future resources measures, economic capability and resilience
India's overall score declined by 1.3 points as it trended down in cultural influence, future resources, economic relationships and diplomatic influence

Key figures

The report stated that in 2020, Pakistan had the biggest gains in diplomatic influence with (+3.8) points. However, it lost some points in cultural influence with (−3.9).

Elsewhere, it improved in resilience with (+1.3) points and future resources (+1.2) points, while trending down in defence networks with (−1.9) points. Its military capability stood at (−0.8) points and economic relationships at (−0.2) points. The score for economic capability remained unchanged this year.

Pakistan's major improvement has been in future resources measures, where it is placed on 7th rank reflecting an anticipated demographic dividend to 2050. Its lowest ranking is in the economic relationships measure, coming in at 20th place.

In 2020, Pakistan saw its greatest improvement in economic capability, resilience and diplomatic influence, where it moved up one place. However, it has also slipped by two places in the defence networks measure relative to 2019, the report mentioned.

Pakistan's negative power gap also improved in 2020, the report stated.

India's score declines

On the other hand, Pakistan's neighbouring country India lost the most points in cultural influence with (−5.3) points. Elsewhere, it trended down in future resources with (−4.9) points, economic relationships at (−2.9) points and diplomatic influence with (−2.6) points.

The report maintained that India's overall score declined by 1.3 points as compared to 2019. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has also affected the economic forecast of the country for 2030.

India also slipped into 7th position for economic relationships, as it falls further behind in regional trade integration efforts. The decision to withdraw from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership has been damaging in this regard.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Removed From Terror-Financing List After Four Years - Bloomberg

A global anti-money laundering watchdog removed Pakistan from its “gray” monitoring list after four years, providing relief for the South Asian nation that is facing a crisis.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force said the country “has strengthened the effectiveness” of its regime for anti-money laundering and combating terror financing, and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans.

Pakistan has been on the FATF’s monitoring list since 2018 for its inability to combat money laundering and terror financing. It was given a 27-point plan that year and another seven-point action plan in 2021. In September of this year, the watchdog had sent a team to verify steps taken.

The exit will ease access to finances for the country after catastrophic flooding caused losses of around $40 billion to lives and livelihoods. Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service have downgraded the nation’s credit rating deeper into junk while its bonds traded in distressed territory.

FATF is an intra-governmental body that includes 37 countries and two regional organizations. China, Turkey and Malaysia have lobbied in the past to prevent severe penalties against Pakistan, while India, which accuses Islamabad of funding militant groups operating in its portion of Kashmir, had sought a downgrade to the more severe blacklist