The year 2021 is the dawn of a new era in both global economy and global diplomacy. As the novel Covid-19 virus shook the economy which in turn left ultimate ramifications on the global diplomacy subsequently. The world has been compelled to replace the pre-pandemic normal with the new normal, which means that its far-reaching impacts will be keenly observed in how we fashion our lives. Hence the micro-economic variables are no more at pre-pandemic normal levels, therefore synergy of modified micro-economic variables result in paradigm-shifts in macro-economic situations as well.
Globally, gross domestic products (GDPs) are under-pressure, as stagflation (high-inflation, high unemployment rate and slow growth) is haunting them. Central banks have been injecting money into their economies, which fuelled the global capital markets to mark unprecedented highs, along with relative movements expected to gain prominence in commodities and real estate sector in near future. How come pre-pandemic diplomacy could be in comfort-zone, when the motives of diplomacy are undergoing paradigm shifts in their entirety? Doesn’t the diplomacy nowadays significantly project a nation’s economic/trade or defence ambitions? So they all are transforming and are planting the seeds of a new-era and we have to be cognizant of ground-realities in this sphere.
Exodus of US and allied-troops from Afghanistan, although the political-decision was rooted earlier in pre-pandemic period but its implementation stemmed-out instantly in the post-pandemic period. An act which was considered earlier as a projection of power turned out to be costing economically, misfit and unsustainable in post-pandemic period, this is how the ground-realities of diplomacy felt impacts of the under-going transformation. Indian Ocean has historically been a beloved and romanticized by the global powers for its warmth. The case of Indian Ocean is becoming very much interesting currently as the regional powers and their blue-eyed chaps are again on a voyage, intending for a shopping spree to make new friendships or alliances which entails an enhanced oceanic diplomacy to be a significant milestone to fulfill their aspirations. The scattered islands, both the inhabited and uninhabited ones, are gaining traction globally, thus giving birth to a facet of ‘Islandic affairs’ in oceanic diplomacy.
The fourth industrial revolution or industry 4.0 has become now talk of the town. The concept of industry 4.0 envisions technological pillars like artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, block chain, robotic processes automation, additive manufacturing (3D-printing) etc to be steering the global dynamics in future. In nutshell, this phenomenon can’t be put in back burner while discussing diplomacy. In reality, these developments will definitely give birth to ‘diplomacy 4.0′ as a tool, to fulfill a nation’s industry 4.0’s goals. Fathoming all these events diligently, it will be a sheer illusion if someone deems that global diplomacy will remain unaltered. In the same pursuit of changing dynamics, Pakistan has stepped into an unprecedented but historically significant phase where it is playing a role as a facilitation partner in the withdrawal of US and allied forces from Afghanistan, simultaneously coupling it with being an instrumental partner of China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) by hosting its flagship project, which is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
This engagement with respective ambitions of these global giants necessitates Pakistan to exhibit efficient and effective efforts across different facets of diplomatic spectrum. We have to realize that the evolved ideologies of regional stakeholders now converge at the geo-economic proposition, irrespective of their duo of inherent and inherited political dogma. The recent collaborative meeting of heads of Russia, China, Iran and Central Asian states’ intelligence agencies in Islamabad held under the auspices of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency manifests aspirations of regional players in safeguarding their respective territories. Similarly, Pakistan-based diplomats turning to Ministry of Foreign Affairs frequently to calibrate and recalibrate the regional situation further solidifies Pakistan’s sky-rocketing significance in global diplomacy. This completely dispels the notion of ‘diplomatic isolation’ which was the manifestation of sheer ignorance.
The eruption of high intensity diplomatic chain reaction in the form of subsequent events, underscores diplomatic significance of Pakistan across the region. It further depicts keenness with which, cementing efforts carried out by Pakistan’s Foreign-Affairs, military and intelligence apparatus in ensuring the regional stability, are being seen. It should be of no surprise that the cool and calm Islamabad entangled in mighty Margalla Hills and a gateway to northern snow-clad mountains has grabbed the foreign recognition and is environing the same warmth as other top-notch and high-powered diplomatic capitals do akin to Washington, London, Moscow or Beijing etc. In nutshell, these ground happening instances are enough to dilute the notion of ‘diplomatic isolation’ as it was purely a fallacy on groundless basis.
With the passage of time, and further advancements in technology, the costs to acquire and deploy technology nosedived as evidenced by global technology commercialization indices. On the same pattern, Pakistan as a state has already embarked upon a journey to adopt e-governance wherever it is deemed possible. By virtue of this national-level adoption of efficient and effective tech processes, our diplomatic missions also leveraged upon this strategy to facilitate overseas Pakistanis, which ultimately resulted in revamping of decades’ old manual-methods and replacing them with highly efficient and effective systems. This overall optimization of processes could be validated by facts that queues have shortened drastically, majority of the manual processes have already transitioned online and hassling environment of manual monotonous tasks is on verge of ceasing.
However, room for improvement always exists in public delivery systems. With the advent of e-governance apps and already existing self-service web portal of NADRA, it could reasonably be expected that in near future, the number of overseas Pakistanis turning to diplomatic missions will decrease as majority of things are going to be on finger tips. The role of a diplomatic mission is evolving from merely an expatriates facilitation centre and custodian of national data to a fully strategic and region focused centre akin to a high-powered think-tank communicating with quality insights up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant institutions. It is incumbent upon the government to devise a futuristic roadmap for our diplomatic missions, equipping them with specialized human and technical resources, as the moment to unleash our global potential, via diplomatic apparatus has already been kicked-off.