Pakistan's Monochromatic Foreign Policy

Pakistan ever since its inception in 1947 has followed a monochromatic foreign policy focused on opposing India and the adoption of combative and confrontational postures towards India. Around this central theme has revolved the remainder formulations of Pakistan's foreign policy.  Pakistan has relentlessly sought its external relationships based on the cardinal principle of seeking 'equalizer' states as its patrons, that is, states which would be in a position to coerce India politically and militarily. In this process Pakistan allowed itself to be 'used' by such nations as the regional 'spoiler state' without any strategic advantages accruing to Pakistan itself.

The roots of Pakistan's monochromatic foreign policy lie in the impulses that impelled its inception and the circumstances that were in attendance during the formative stages of this Muslim theocratic state.  In marked contrast to the Congress Party's independence struggle against the British, seeking a free, democratic and a secular united India, the Muslim League under the leadership of Mohd Ali Jinnah, sought the partition of India for a separate homeland for India's Muslims.  Jinnah maintained that the Indian Muslims were a separate civilization from the Hindus and Sikhs and could not co-exist in a united Indian Subcontinent. The Indian freedom struggle was based on the principles of non-violence whereas the Muslim League resorted to unmitigated violence against the Hindus and Sikhs to force the British to accede to its demand for the Muslim state of Pakistan.

Those who now maintain that Jinnah was a secularist based on his single speech on August 11,1947 to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly forget that this was done under British pressure to rein in the ethnic genocide launched by the Muslim League in territories that were to constitute the new nation state. The sole aim was to force out the Hindus and Sikhs population from these areas. It was nothing short of ethnic cleansing that was resorted to by Jinnah and his Muslim League.

It is a distortion of history to maintain that Jinnah was a secularist based on this single speech. Jinnah in the run-up to the creation of Pakistan never made any political references to secularism as the basis for the new Pakistan. If secularism was to be the basis of Pakistan then what was the necessity for Jinnah to demand a separate state of Pakistan, a demand which was patently for a theocratic state. In fact Jinnah's demand for Pakistan was based on his pernicious 'Two Nation Theory' which unleashed a civilizational war in1947. Pakistan was therefore born in violence and in opposition to the call for a united secular India.

It should therefore not be surprising that the foreign policy of Pakistan on attaining its nationhood continued to reflect the combative postures of the Muslim League towards India. Pakistan's foreign policy soon after its inception went into overdrive to enlist 'equalizer states' which could assist Pakistan to equalize the strategic balance in South Asia which was heavily in the favor of India.

The United States was the first choice for Pakistan, but it had to await American signals which remained pending till such time India made it clear that India was not inclined to entangle itself in America's Cold War strategy of containment. Pakistan's signals to USA were clear and seductive. It was willing to be an American ally and join its military alliances in return for building its military machine and support against India. Thus began Pakistan's spasmodic military relationship with USA , and is once again alive due to post-9/11 compulsions. Despite this proximate relationship with USA, which was intense at different periods, both Pakistan and USA are uncertain about each other. Pakistan today is the most anti-USA nation today in the world, notwithstanding General Musharraf's personal preferences.

China was a late entrant into Pakistan's strategic calculations as an 'equalizer state' against India. Pakistan wooed China after the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and found China receptive for a quasi-strategic partnership. This was prompted by a common strategic convergence of both nations to balance India and offset her military predominance in the region. Unlike USA , which drew a certain line in Pakistan's confrontation with India, China in an unrestrained manner went ahead to build Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal and her ballistic missile arsenal. China had a double aim of 'using' Pakistan both against India and the United States.

What has been the net result of Pakistan's monochromatic foreign policy of containing India? India, despite all Pakistan's foreign policy machinations has forged ahead and is today well on the way to become a key global player. The very powers which Pakistan courted in its quest for 'equalizer states' against India, are in the process of evolving strategic partnerships with India, namely the United States and China.

Pakistan's losses of such a counter-productive monochromatic foreign policy have been many. In the first decade of the 21st Century, Pakistan finds that its foreign policy has failed to insure the nation against its gradual irrelevance in the strategic calculus of the major powers, despite its nuclear weapons arsenal. It has allowed itself to be strategically 'used' by other powers and in the process, sadly ended in the words of an eminent Pakistani, Ambassador Haqqani, as a 'rental state'.


More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila

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