While most of the policy elite in Pakistan is busy firefighting the current political meltdown, the ongoing economic crisis, and a surge in acts of terrorism, a storm is brewing around the neighborhood and beyond. It is extremely important for policymakers to keep these issues in mind so that a crisis can be averted in near future.
On the eastern flank, India in its latest act of defying international law has issued a legal notice about the revocation of the Indus Water Treaty. The Indus Water Treaty was brokered by World Bank between Pakistan and India and is currently the longest-standing agreement between the two countries. The current reaction by our experts is no less than a joke and expresses the seriousness of the country as a whole.
The lack of understanding of international law on water issues is just mind-boggling.
The second crisis that is brewing is two-pronged and again taking place in India. India will host SCO and G20 summit this year. The Indian media has been blowing the trumpet loud and across the globe stating that they have invited Pakistan. As per rule, Pakistan being a member of SCO has to be invited and India is not extending any favor. Also, India is planning to host some G20 events in IIOJK which again is an Indian attempt to ridicule UN conventions. Apart from a few experts, no one in the policy circles is raising these points. Pakistan must come down strong on this Indian propaganda.
Towards the western neighborhood, it seems that the Taliban are moving close to every other country except Pakistan. The body language of our defense minister and other members of the delegation is not sending any positive signals.
Pakistan cannot afford a hot border with Afghanistan and ties with the Taliban should be amended for the safety and security of Pakistan.
On the global front, China is being arm twisted by the US and some unprecedented actions are being taken by the Americans. Some analysts say that it is the beginning of a new cold war and some paint it as a rise in temperatures by Americans. The Chinese are also cold-shouldering Pakistan. As of now, they have closed down the councilor services and there is no Ambassador posted in Islamabad by China. Whatever the case may be, when push comes to shove, Pakistan needs to have some strong and clear policy options Vis a Vis China and the USA for this fast-approaching scenario.
On the European front, it seems that the Ukrainian-Russian war is there for the long haul. There have been so many stories about the American manipulation of the war and recently Seymour Hersh did an expose on how they blew up the Nord Stream. A recent article by New York Times has also highlighted how the westerners are scrambling to procure the soviet armory for Ukraine. Amidst this crisis, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan has written a letter to President Arif Alvi which accuses the former Chief of the Army Staff of deviating from the official stance on the conflict. This can actually blow up in the face of the current government and it needs to act strong and build a strong case. Just abstaining from UN polls will not suffice for the western partners. Pakistan actually needs to have a strong and clear strategy on the issue.
In the Middle East, it seems that Pakistan has already lost its reputation. The economic crisis has completely shattered the Pakistani image among Arab royals. A new diplomatic engagement is a need of time. The Arabs are fond of hunting and Pakistan offers wonderful opportunities. Pakistan needs to engage 2nd and 3rd-tier royalty and invite them for a private tour. Through these tours, Pakistan can build its goodwill and at a later stage ask the members of the royal family to invest in Pakistan.
Everything mentioned above can be countered and is doable without any major hassle. However, this requires a lot of policy planning and deep strategic thinking. It seems that at the moment, policymakers are not thinking along these lines or maybe they just don’t have the time to address these challenges due to the ongoing crisis. Either way, while the resilient nation is trying its level best to fight the internal challenges, it should not forget about the growing external challenges. If this is not done on a priority basis, Pakistan will be caught by surprise and some haphazard decision-making will take place. Pakistan has already suffered a lot on the diplomatic front and it cannot afford any more disasters.
The author is Independent Researcher based in Islamabad. Previously, she worked as Research Officer at National Defense University (NDU), Islamabad.