Foreign policy consists of strategies that direct the relationship of one state towards another, and safeguards their own national interest at the same time. It is often considered as the first line of defence for any state, as it has a vital role to play, and can influence the future progress of a nation. Pakistan’s history has been quite eventful. The country has had to cope with antagonistic neighbours and global dilemmas. Our support for the US has particularly alienated us from the rest of the world, yet the US still struggles to trust us, even after all the sacrifices made by our country and its people. The US has always proved itself to be a fair-weather friend, and accuse Pakistan of being a “sponsor of international terrorism”, even though we have lost millions to this menace. All these failures highlight the importance of having an effective foreign policy. Let’s examine some of the major factors which have played a pivotal role in the failure of Pakistan’s foreign policy.The civil-military scuffle is the foremost factor responsible for damaging the foreign policy of Pakistan. The country has gone through military rule for a total of 34 years. The military is considered as the guardian of the state and has a greater say in the system. The only reason behind this is the incompetent leadership within the civil sector who struggle to have a say in the complicated decision-making apparatus within the country, where institutions collide and mandates overhang. This unending scuffle between the military and civil leadership is a major cause which is holding back the effectiveness of our foreign policy. One step could be a systematic look at Pakistan’s foreign policy so far, and to come up with solutions to the many problems facing us today. The government and opposition must sit together and chalk out a framework in which the short and long-term objectives of foreign policy must be definedThe second factor is the self-interest of our leadership. Pakistan has failed in producing a competent and nurturing leadership. Here leaders don’t work for the national interest but for their own. They misuse power and make appointments based on self-interest, helping incompetent people rise to the heights of state leadership, who eventually become responsible for decision-making. The government of PM Nawaz Sharif was a great example of such a system, and the problem was made worse by the absence of a recognized foreign minister.The third reason could be the Pakistan sole dependence on the West and its impractical behaviour. Association with the US has alienated Pakistan in the region. It has a deteriorating relationship with Iran, Afghanistan, and India. In Iran’s case, Pakistan’s support to the Taliban and Saudi Arabia soured the relationship between the two countries. The nation has also been focused on India for most of its existence, yet we could learn from their foreign policy decisions. They are even getting closer to Saudi-Arabia, and unlike Pakistan, they have not put all their foreign policy eggs in one China named basket. Pakistan is depending on China for its complete economic development of the future, which is going to damage it in the long run.Pakistan has failed to achieve its self-interest through the process of lobbying either. This failure could be seen in two cases, which relate to the war on terror, and Kashmir. In the first case, Pakistan has failed to convince the international community that they have done everything in their power, including an unprecedented loss of life, to eradicate extremism from the country. In the second case, the issue of Kashmir still remains unresolved, with no positive signs for the near future. In order to improve this situation, the following steps might come in handy. First, Pakistan needs to take a pragmatic approach in extending their friendship to a greater number of countries. They should act like a proud, nuclear power, who must refuse to be bullied by the US. Pakistan also needs to patch up its deteriorating relationship with Iran, India, Afghanistan, and also Russia Pakistan must try to seek multilateral relationships to take advantage of every opportunity they are presented with.Moreover, Pakistan must try to seek the support of other South Asian states, and the Arab world as well. India has secured a trade route to Afghanistan and to central Asian states through Iran, and Pakistan must take it as an opportunity, rather than a threat.We can use it for electricity and gas or other energy supply. The second step could be a systematic look at Pakistan’s foreign policy so far and come up with solutions to the many problems facing us today. The government and opposition must sit together and chalk out a framework in which short-term and long-term objectives of foreign policy must be defined.Separation of power and accountability must be ensured by the state because the civilian-military scuffle has damaged the foreign policy of Pakistan in the long run. Foreign policy must be decided beyond the self-interested leadership. This can only be possible through the strengthening of institutions, separation of power, strong accountability, and transparency.Pakistan’s diplomatic leadership must hire strong lobbying groups .who can invest in the interest of Pakistan, so that the country is able to fight its case and justify its actions before the international community. If we can manage to take these steps, then we can improve our foreign policy to become our greatest strength.The writer is a student of BS International Relations and can be contacted on his Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, August 12th 2018.