It is hard on any reasonable patriot’s mind to constantly hear and read the vicious diatribe about Pakistan’s ‘impending’ predicament in the national and international media. Apparently, the enemies of the state, i.e. naysayers andself-defeatists within the opposition, crossover opportunists, feudalists with selfish self-aggrandising goals, self-proclaimed prophesiers foreseeing Pakistan capitulating to international, regional, and super-power pressures are trying to gain a foothold every which way they can to further their personal interests or those of others in cahoots. However, to stem their illegitimate intentions, three levels of actions will be necessary to break their backs: one being a robust foreign policy, secondly a proactive, ethical national media, and a diehard defence establishment that safeguards national sovereignty, boundaries, and interests including its citizens. In the interest of focus and time constraints, this segment will focus on some facets of foreign policy alone. Recall December 1979, when Zia spurned American financial aid and contemptuously termed it “peanuts”. Since then, Pakistan has not been able to vocalize its concerns on Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK). We will need to trace Pakistan’s foreign policy records back to Zia’s era, especially 1988 after his death, when Pakistan gained prominence in the world arena with a robust foreign policy spearheaded by the late Agha Shahi. The question is, how did we capitalise on this opportunity? Why did Pakistan not strive to improve its international standing as a maturing democratic nation and one aspiring to be an industrial and technological leader of the Muslim world and Asia? Well, history speaks volumes about what happened thereafter and Pakistan’s streak of bad governance and bad policy-making continues to this date, with hope only emerging in 2018 with the ascension of Imran Khan. The long period of latent dormancy can be attributed to lack of competent and capable leaders and corruption (today Pakistan is ranked 117 out of 175 countries in terms of corruption). To boot, Pakistan has been devoid of any sound and solid foreign policy advocating Pakistan’s leadership position in managing regional geopolitics, in particular, Afghanistan and the subcontinent converting Pakistan into a modern and progressive developing nation. IoK atrocities continue and what has Pakistan done to that end? Appearances by retired ambassadors on the national media have been growing, which is highly counter-productive as some of their statements may be regarded as controversial Consolidating a foreign policy when it has been in limbo for over 30 years cannot be accomplished overnight. However, the Foreign Office (FO) already has a Foreign Service Academy rolling out career diplomats. But, is it also an academy for promoting excellence? The FO with the government’s support can further improve its framework by having think-tanks such as foreign policy research institutes or having an institute for foreign policy studies at higher third tier universities which can assist in coming up with strategic policies for countries with national interests in different geographic regions. It is extremely important and vital that the government empower the FO in the appointment of a Minister of FO who is a seasoned foreign policy expert on international relations and of international repute having served at the UN or major posts promoting Pakistan’s interests with a proven track record. Pakistan is located strategically and is a major player in regional geopolitics and its say can only be furthered by devoted foreign policy experts and not cabinet members (without exception). Sound foreign policy is critical for Pakistan if it wants to earn its rightful place in the global comity of nations. Our ambassadors at large need to be tasked with improving not only Pakistan’s image, but Pakistan’s exports in countries they are based in with the financial balance in Pakistan’s favour and to continuously seek new avenues of mutual collaboration, and where need to import arises, seek means for a transfer of technology, so goods may be manufactured in Pakistan. The need of the hour is to improve not only commercial ties but also cultural, tourism and sports related relationships. Pakistan’s ambassadors will need to pledge allegiance to Pakistan alone, not hold dual nationalities and not have plans to retire overseas. This needs to be patriotically exemplified by wearing of national dress at important events, living conservatively, drive vehicles that are commensurate with our country’s economic standing, cut down on perks and privileges and to work constantly and exclusively for Pakistan’s interest day in and day out. Recently, appearances by retired ambassadors on the national media have been growing, which is highly counter-productive as some of their statements may be regarded as controversial, to say the least. PEMRA and the FO need to be aligned and disallow expression of personal views from any retired FO personnel. Pakistan is not in a position to have views other than that of the FO or national interest broadcasted via media. To preclude conflict of interest between the government and opposition, any person of influence regardless of reputation or affiliation to a political party should not be permitted to speak on the government’s behalf about government policy at international forums without the requisite and expressed approval of the government, and PEMRA. Their speeches and talks should be vetted by the FO. Any retired or serving ambassador should not be allowed to share his or her personal opinions in the media without it being approved or vetted by the FO. Pakistan’s foreign policy should aim to raise the image of Pakistan by promoting Pakistan’s national interests and security first and foremost. It should raise our nation’s international standing and esteem, promoting global camaraderie through commerce. The writer if freelance columnist Published in Daily Times, February 25th 2019.