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Tuesday, October 3, 2023
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EditorialPakistan's diplomacy hasn't scored yet

Pakistan’s diplomacy hasn’t scored yet

Diplomatically, Pakistan’s scorecard is not impressive. We have not been able to garner support from major powers on various issues confronting the country.

We have not been able to woo our friends.

The other day Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a speech in the US Congress. He became the first Indian prime minister to address Congress twice.

Modi boasted about India’s strong economy, its development and its journey ahead.

He claimed India was marching towards becoming the world’s third largest economy, amid claps from the legislators.

Indian diplomacy has scored a point here. It had also scored when it hosted G20 tourism meeting in Srinagar, the capital of the disputed Kashmir valley.

So much so, US President Joe Biden and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a joint statement, calling on Pakistan to ensure that its territory was not used to launch extremist attacks.

Islamabad rejected the joint call by the US and India, terming it “unwarranted, one-sided and misleading”.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it was “surprised” by the reference given “Pakistan’s close counterterrorism cooperation with the US.”

It further said India “habitually uses the terrorism bogey” to deflect attention from its human rights abuses, calling it a “state sponsor of terror”.

Pakistan is walking a tightrope when it comes to maintaining relations with the US as well as China.

In a recent interview, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan did not have the appetite to choose sides in the growing global rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

China has been a strategic partner of Pakistan, making huge investments in the country’s infrastructure projects.

On the other hand, the US is leaning more and more towards India as can be seen from Modi rapturous welcome in Washington.

Ms Khar had said that Pakistan had a history of being in a close, collaborative mode with the US and did not have the intention of leaving that.

“Pakistan also has the reality of being in a close, collaborative mode with China,” she added.

The complexity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that American Ambassador Donald Blome had to clarify that the United States was not pressing Pakistan to “choose between the US and economic relations with China.”

He went on to say that trade among many partners was key to economic prosperity.

“The trade must also be equitable and our message to China is to go forward with fair trade terms and of course Pakistan should demand the same from its economic relationships,” he added.

The ambassador further said that some commentators had tried to frame ties between the US and Pakistan through the prism of China or India or Russia. But, he said, he looked at the relation between the two countries differently.

The US relationship with Pakistan can and should stand on its own,” he said, stressing that their engagement with Islamabad remained very strong.

In the meantime, Pakistan is struggling to increase its foreign reserves and pay off the debts.

As Khar rightly said, Pakistan was not in a position to take sides.

Its main priority at the moment is to kickstart the economy, secure funds from international lenders, including the International Monetary Fund, and create jobs.

The country is trying to come out of its domestic issues – political and economical – and on top of it, it is faced with natural disasters that have inflicted colossal loss.

Let’s hope the revised budget goes down well with the IMF.

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