In July 2018 elections, Pakistan Tehrek-i-Insaf (PTI) succeeded for the first time in its history, in establishing government in the federal. During elections’ campaign, PTI chairman, Imran Khan had time and again stressed on the need of a proper foreign policy for Pakistan and had promised public the adaptation of such policy if he came into power in the upcoming elections. After winning enough seats in the national assembly, PTI chairman, Imran Khan in the first hours of the election result draw a sketch of his government foreign policy during press conference. In his speech he stressed on maintaining equal friendly relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. Similarly he also expressed his desire for re-establishing and keeping friendly relations with India by solving the Kashmir issue first through talks and negotiation and revisiting Pakistan relations with USA. He also called China Pakistan’s strong ally and best friend and aimed at strengthening this relation further during his party’s rule.
Imran Khan took oath of Premiership on 18 August 2018 and became the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. Since day one as being Prime Minister of the state Imran Khan as compared to his predecessors seems following an altogether different pattern of foreign policy in relations with other states. Some major changes that can be observed in Pakistan’s foreign policy under Imran Khan Government are below.
Pakistan’s Role in Afghan Peace Process
Unlike his predecessors, Imran Khan aimed at maintaining friendly and equal relations with the two major states of the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia and Iran. This is the first time that Pakistan’s government is showing an equal interest in keeping friendly relations with both the countries. Usually in the past we have always observed a little tilt in Pakistan’s interest in keeping relations with either Saudi Arabia or Iran. Pakistan, in past seemed to be more interested in having good relations with Iran during Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government while with Saudi Arabia during Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) government. PTI’s government so far appears to be successful in maintaining friendly relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is good for our country’s interests.
Maintaining a peaceful and friendly relation with India has always been remained a major challenge for every government of Pakistan. The nature of Pakistan’s relation with India is totally different from relations with all other states. The two countries shares same history, culture and even same social, political and economic problems. Pakistan also shares its largest land border with India. Despite having so many similarities the two countries still most of the time remained at odd with each other. Since the establishment of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) government in India in 2013, relations between the two countries could not achieve any positive progress during the past four years. Pakistan’s government under the leadership of Imran Khan seems more enthusiastic towards re-establishment of friendly relations with India. In this regard commencement of the construction of Kartarpur Corridor is an excellent example of Pakistan’s interest in building amiable relations with the neighboring country, India. Imran Khan during his messages to Indian government has again and again stressed on the solution Kashmir issue, which according to him is the sole cause of tense relations between the two countries. Similarly, poverty being the common problem of both the states, Pakistan believes its eradication is possible only through commerce and trade between the two neighboring states.
How A Comprehensive Foreign Policy Can Be Made?
Relations between USA and Pakistan seemed in cold state for the past few years. It is very unfortunate fact that in spite of working together for almost seven decades, there is a huge trust deficit between the two countries. USA blamed Pakistan for her failure in Afghanistan while Pakistan, especially the government of Imran Khan reject all such allegations and held US herself responsible for her failure in Afghanistan. Pakistan under PTI’s government wants proper relations with USA. Relations that are built on mutual trust and in which Pakistan and her land is not exploited and miss used by the USA. Reaffirming such policy, Imran Khan in an interview to Washington Post on Friday called upon US that Pakistan would be no more their hired gun. Prime Minister Imran Khan has time and again expressed his desire for establishing such mutually benefited relations with USA as Pakistan has with China. As per Imran Khan we want such relations with USA in which both the countries are benefited equally and no country served as scapegoat for the other.
Like all previous governments, strengthening relations with China is one of the top priorities of the current government of Pakistan. As per Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the foreign minister of Pakistan, friendly relations with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan wants to establish friendly relations with all major states of the world on the pattern of her relations with China. This shows how important are relations with China for the government of Pakistan?
Relation with Afghanistan and her stability has its own importance in Pakistan’s foreign policy and it increases especially when it comes to the security of Pakistan. The government of Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan seems more interested in the political solution of Afghan issue than the use of military force. There is no doubt that peace in Pakistan is possible only when peace in Afghanistan is established. This in other words means that Peace in Pakistan is linked with peace in Afghanistan. To this end, Pakistan has already shown her interest and services for playing role in Afghan peace process.
Economically the country is passing through a critical stage. According to finance minister, Asad Umar, the current account deficit of Pakistan is about $ 18b. To cop the situation, Prime Minister Imran Khan during his early days of premiership visited different states to get some monetary assistance, in which he succeeded to some extent. This is a positive sign especially in terms of these countries trust on Pakistan and her economy. As an additional measure the government has enlarged its tax base to generate more revenue.
Despite many challenges it is believed that the country is moving in a positive direction especially after the announcement of current government that Pakistan would no longer be a part of someone else war. By moving on the same tract it is believed that the country will soon get peace, prosperity and stability.