Pakistan urged to revisit its relationship with US

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ISLAMABAD: Experts at a special seminar, titled ‘United States’ South Asian Policy: Challenges for Pakistan’, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday, said that Pakistan’s relationship with the United States (US) is more of a transactional nature, adding the country miscalculated its strategic relations with the superpower.

The US interests in the past and even today in the South Asian region have contradicted the national interests of Pakistan, the experts said. Pakistan must review its relationship with the US by giving more value to its own national interests, they added.

They further said that the biggest issue of Pakistan’s foreign policy mechanism was that the country lacked a comprehensive foreign policy due to which the policymakers here have mostly been known to react to short-term events rather than proactively pursuing long-term diplomacy.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Member of National Assembly (MNA) and Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) Director General Dr Shireen Mazari on the occasion said that Pakistan had been sharing a very bizarre relationship with the US.

“We miscalculated our relationship with the US by considering the superpower as our strategic partner. This approach proved wrong at different moments in our history in historic events such as the containment of Communism, Cold War and presently containment of Chinese influence in the region,” she said, adding that US strategic goals in the region were not in the interest of Pakistan.

Dr Mazari said that backing India as an emerging regional power, isolation of Iran and containment of China were the major US inter the sts in South Asian region. “Our national interests do not converge with the regional interests of US,” she said, adding that US could never become our natural strategic partner, and though we share some common issues with them, the interests were still totally different.

“We need to revise our relationship with the US and create more space for our national interests,” she further said, adding that Pakistan should strengthen its relationship with China and Iran without compromising its position.

Dr Mazari also said that for the past several decades, Pakistan had not developed a comprehensive foreign policy. Lack of policy and lack of confidence had put Pakistan on the back burner, she added.

Earlier, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) President Ambassador (r) Abdul Basit on the occasion said that mutual distrust, lack of convergence of interest, and lack of mutual economic interest were the major contributing factors behind the poor history of Pak-US relations.

“Unfortunately, our foreign policy objectives were not pursued robustly,” he said, adding that our house was not working together on the foreign policy front which cost us dearly in certain cases. He further said that Pakistan needs to behave like a mature nation rather than reacting to events as they unfold.

Basit further said that lack of cohesion and lack of consistent policies were the major reasons behind Pakistan’s poor and ineffective diplomacy. “During the last four years, we have lost our space to other countries in the US diplomatic circles,” he said, adding that Pakistan should have achieved robust diplomacy.

He further said that the negative approach and criticism of US towards the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and One Belt, One Road Initiative (OBOR) was based on lame excuses.

Centre for Global and Strategic Studies Vice President Major General (r) Hafiz Masroor Ahmed said Pakistan should not be compromising its own national interest and continue to strengthen its relations with China and Afghanistan.

“Increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan would also multiply the problems of Pakistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan should not be held hostage by US interests in the region as a number of peace talks were sabotage and destroyed by the US itself. We need to sit together and work out a well-coordinated response to US influence in the region, he added.

The SDPI Research Uptake and Business Development Director Shakeel Ahmad summed up the discussion and said the world was experiencing an era of unpredictability where the sequence of events had changed frequently and dramatically over the years.

“South Asia remains at the forefront of the US’ regional interests and concerns,” he said, adding that the Trump administration had brought a mix of change and continuity in the country’s foreign and security policies, including those directed at South Asia. Pakistan should continue to review its position with the constantly changing scenario, he added.