The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit has been postponed when reportedly India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and possibly Nepal refused to participate in the conference that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November.
If these SAARC member states had requested the postponement of the summit due to the India-Pakistan recent tension, it would be understandable because they would want to stay neutral. However, according to some news reports, the leaders of the key south Asian countries have refused to attend the summit because it was happening in Pakistan.
Apparently, other SAARC countries agree with the Indian position and have therefore regretted to participate in the summit. Some can interpret this attitude as diplomatic protest against Pakistan. Of course, such attitude towards Pakistan isn’t fair as it seems to me that the Indian extremists are more persuasive.
Nonetheless, it is also a fact that most Western countries don’t trust us; central Asian states fear Pakistan and now the south Asian countries are siding with India.
Even Saudi Arabia, in the India-Pakistan dispute, has not come openly in Pakistan’s support. Our so-called “brothers” – the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and so on – remain silent. There is something wrong and we need to figure that out sooner than later. Our media and society should critically analyse why Pakistan stands isolated in the region and what will be its repercussions?
China and Pakistan are strategic partners and Pakistan’s relations with Russia have also improved but having good relations with a group of countries at the cost of relations with other countries is never a good strategy.
During the most part of history, Pakistan couldn’t formulate a balanced and independent foreign policy. Our military rulers accepted role of a proxy for Pakistan in international conflicts. As a result, Pakistan has failed to earn credibility and respect among the international community. Earning trust and credibility is very difficult but losing it or having no credibility at all is easier. Unfortunately, Pakistanis often like easier options.
Pakistan must use every mean to dispel the impression that its foreign policy is shaped by paranoiac thinking and duplicity. Peace, trade and economic development should be cornerstones of our foreign policy and should be formulated by the parliament – through wider and transparent debates. Consultations involving security forces, civil leadership and other segments of the society should be taken.