Pakistan has long since relied on cooperation from its allies in the Muslim bloc of the global status quo. Contingent on its inception as a Sovereign Islamic Republic, the Nuclear Spearhead of the Muslim World has been striving to create strong ties within a Muslim alliance. Although his predecessor, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, organized the Second Summit of the Organization of Islamic Countries in Lahore in 1974, General Zia Ul Haq perhaps exemplified this attitude best. The curtains open on a stage set back in the 1980s, when Indo-Pak tensions were at a paramount, and then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, livid over his strongly held convictions that Pakistan was behind the Sikh Revolt and the subsequent death of his mother Indira Gandhi, had issued orders for the Indian forces to mobilize en masse and assume a threatening posture on the borders, aimed at Pakistan much like hungry dogs looked to corner a squirrel from an international viewpoint. Zia, the man with nerves of steel, honed through his time served in the army, a man of composure, even in that standoff, chose to visit India for a diplomatic mission. Even when faced with less than hospitable greetings, the man never lost his smile, for the gambit up his sleeve was just too strong. Upon invitation from Gandhi, he accompanied him to a cricket match, where, upon his departure, he imparted the following quote to the Indian Prime Minister, that not only did away with the persisting threat, but changed the international dynamics of the young nuclear superpower with ramifications echoing even to our present, and perhaps showed the world Pakistan’s Achilles Heel in the process as well. “Mr. Rajiv you want to invade Pakistan? Okay fine go ahead! But please remember one thing that after that people will forget Changez Khan and Hilaku Khan and will remember Zia and Rajiv Gandhi only. Because it will not be a Conventional War. Pakistan may possibly suffer annihilation but Muslims will still survive because there are several Muslim countries in the world. But remember there is only one India and I shall wipe out Hinduism and Hindu religion from the face of the earth! And if you don’t order complete de-escalation and demobilization before my return to Pakistan, the first word of mouth I will utter will be “Fire”!” Both the Nuclear Diplomacy of General Zia and the Lahore Summit of 1974, showed the world a number of things. First, that Pakistan was not standing alone against the much stronger India, but had the support of all Muslim countries, the support seemingly entailing economic, military as well as political backing from these powerful and numerous nations. Second, they highlighted Pakistan’s importance within the Muslim bloc as well, as the atomic superpower of the coalition and as a deterrent to the rest of the world against interference with Muslim countries. However, as a third, it also showed the world a loophole in weakening Pakistan. From henceforth, Pakistan was seen as a devoted, dependent, and almost subservient member of the Muslim bloc, weakening its position against the ever-shifting dynamics of a modern society, and binding it to its ideals just to stay in favor with the Muslim bloc. The world sought to improve relations with the Muslim countries on issues that would individually divide the bloc, and stray the leaders of the influential countries away from the ideals of the majority of the bloc just to alienate the naïve Pakistan and weaken its support within the bloc it had chosen. The OIC was seen as nothing more than a front, based on completely ideological alliances that would crumble in front of practicalities like economy, trade and prosperity. Pakistan, unfortunately, clung too tight to these very ideals, and proved its naiveté in the years to come. It is of great importance to the discussion to shift focus to Pakistan’s strife in the upcoming years to deal with war, conflict and corruption, to see how it fell out of favor as an ally to have in the 21st century. The stage shifts to 1988, and Pakistan finds itself in a proxy war, allied with the US against the Soviets. The conflict between Afghanistan and the USSR, at a time where the Cold War was still raging on, forced the US to take up offensive against the USSR under the guise of Afghanistan, using Pakistan as a conduit for its indirect help, wanting to create as much distance as it could between the two global warring superpowers. General Zia, ideologically opposed to the spread of communism, acting on the suggestion of then DG ISI Lt. Gen. Akhtar Abdur Rehman, began arming Afghan militants, later to be known as the Taliban, against the Soviet intervention, a plan that later on merged with the US Operation Cyclone. At the time, this was seen as an unexpected alliance between the two countries that many would come to see as a chip in Pakistan’s pocket against Indian hostility. However, the Ojhri Camp incident of 1988 was to end this alliance on a bitter note, amidst suspicions that Pakistan had intentionally set fire to the military base to cover up the theft of US supplied stocks, and people on the Pakistani side speculating the involvement of the CIA. The aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 should have marked the end of instability in the region, were it not for Pakistan’s own aggresivist policies. Instead of rehabilitating the militants it created in the conflict, Pakistan was further backing them amidst the power vacuum, in what came to be known as the Kandahari student movement. All of this culminated in Zia’s legacy of the Soviet-Afghan War being a rampant illicit drug and weapons trade in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the ugly monster of terrorism rearing its head in the two regions, which served to so effectively destabilize the region so as to; for one, give the US free reign to expand its interventionist policies under the guise of its democratic ideals to the region as an extravagant show of power to the rest of the region to deter them from daring to go against how the US wanted the world to be shaped, as became evident from its later invasions into Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan; and as a second, to give India the sharp dagger it so desperately needed, the speaking point it clings to even now, the moniker of Pakistan as a global sponsor of terrorism. This was exactly what India needed to alienate Pakistan from the global status quo, in a world where the War on Terror became the new obstacle to overcome. The US, unfortunately, had put great distance between itself and the controversy, even though President Ronald Reagan had previously greeted the Taliban militants in the US with embraces. This withdrawal from responsibility pushed Pakistan to the frontlines in this offensive, and thus the inception of the Taliban consequently came to be known as entirely the byproduct of Pakistani intervention, and the regional instability thus caused, forced Pakistan to be on the defensive while the world was developing and leaving Pakistan behind. The stage is now set in the 21st century. An era of the technological race, where geopolitical dominance is dictated by economic prosperity more than military strength. Pakistan, already entering at a weak position due in some extent to Zia’s policy of Islamization, which saw an expanse of radical madrassahs and the rise of extremist religious preachers, both of which not only maligned the image of the nation in the eyes of the developed world but also its own Muslim bloc as it sought to distance itself from the radical image of Islam being portrayed to the world by our religious clerics, further purporting Pakistan’s image as an unreliable ally. The country was thrown into chaos and turmoil once more with the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the third time the country was under martial law, a regime quickly garnering disdain as an international taboo. General Pervaiz Musharraf took the stage after the 1999 Kargil War, a crushing defeat for Pakistan that served to weaken both its political strength and international image. Musharraf plunged the nation into another proxy conflict, with Pakistan once more serving as a base for operations in Afghanistan, aspiring to gain US favor for its participation therein. Unfortunately, this meant weakening its own borders to the expansionist entity of the US, and with the Taliban being a problem in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, thanks to the previous destabilization of the region by General Zia, it was not long before US interventionism began taking root within Pakistan’s borders as well. Drone strikes made the region a constant battleground, with indiscriminate loss of lives of combatants and civilians alike. A culmination of this medley of madness plunged Pakistan’s global image further, with the stock exchange plummeting and trade opportunities declining. Pakistan had unfortunately, in a desperate bid to align itself with strong allies for primarily military strength rather than economic gain, cornered itself into a position where it had neither. The Pakistani Rupee was considered chump change in the currency exchange, and the lapses in defense and security made for extensive brain drain from the country, leading to an underdeveloped workforce, a dissatisfied populace, and, eventually, civil unrest. Through all that, Pakistan saw the rise of corrupt politicians, who further exploited the national treasury for personal benefit and economic gain, effectively sealing the fate of the backward country. Corrupt politicians struck a deal with the Army Dictator to flee the country in exile and be pardoned for their grievous and irreparable financial profiteering under the National Reconciliation Act. In the midst of the proxy war in Afghanistan, General Musharraf was threatened by Colin Powell, the Four Star General and serving US Secretary of State at the time, that if Pakistan were to back away from aiding the US in the Afghan war, they would be sent back into the dark ages. Musharraf, truly exemplifying the hot-bloodedness, stubbornness, cunning and patriotism of an army man, on the surface accepted this deal but used the US funds allocated for military aid in the conflict, for the development and progress of the nation, an action akin to a double edged sword, faced with a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, that did benefit Pakistan at the time but made a powerful enemy on the global stage. General Musharraf puppeteered Pakistani politics for years to come, setting into motion the rise of political pawns that would move by his every direction, even in the absence of the king on the chessboard. From that, stemmed the rise of Pakistan’s image as an unreliable and undependable ally in the global status quo, for both the Muslim bloc which it so desperately needed, and the strong developed world which had used the geographical importance and weak position of Pakistan in various conflicts. On a chessboard, it would almost seem as if Pakistan was a poorly positioned rook, with great power but all it could do was block against checks. A holistic overview on the history of Pakistan’s relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and with Iran are pertinent to the discussion. Close allies even before the inception of Pakistan, as was evident by loans to the Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah from the Saudis in the 1940s, Saudi Arabia backed Pakistan in the 1965 conflict, and Pakistan repaid the favor by sending over PAF fighter pilots to fly the jets of the Royal Saudi Air Force in the 1969 Al-Wadiah conflict between KSA and Yemen. From 1998-1999, Pakistan welcomed $2 billion worth of crude oil from KSA on deferred payment, marking a high point in the bilateral relations of the country. The two are considered strong strategic allies. In the year 2014, the two countries issued a joint statement on Afghan politics, urging the need for democratically elected governance in the region, and in the same year, the Kingdom gave a “grant”, so termed by the Saudi Foreign Minister at the time, to Pakistan when its national reserve was depleted and Pakistan was economically struggling. 2015 saw the first bump in their relations, with Pakistan’s refusal to back Saudi Arabia in the Yemen Conflict pursuant to Saudi airstrikes in the region. The decision was made on political grounds, with Pakistan urging the need to maintain neutrality in the region. This stance has shifted, with a Parliament vote to aid Saudi Arabia and subsequently once more to remain neutral in the region. We see military politics at play once more in 2018, with COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa pledging the stationing of 1000 Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia amidst the Yemen Conflict, and Pakistani Parliamentarians unable to take back a military commitment, could only clarify that these troops were intended for defense and not as an active offensive against Yemen. The PTI government, amidst its own economic turmoil soon after assuming power, had to seek a $6 billion bailout package from KSA, with a $3 billion loan deposited in the national reserve to correct Pakistan’s Balance of Payments and $3 billion worth of crude oil on deferred payment. In 2019, Prince Muhammad Bin Salman visited Pakistan and signed a $10 billion Memorandum of Understanding with Prime Minister Imran Khan, undertaking several developmental projects in Pakistan, and Pakistan officially extended an invite to Saudi Arabia to be a part of CPEC. Be that as it may, Saudi Arabia has long since been an ally that has been difficult to fully please, even when Pakistan declined to attend the Malaysia Summit in 2019 for fear of displeasing the Saudis. KSA has maintained good economic relations with Pakistan’s greatest military rival, India, which has led to polarizations when it came to the Kashmir issue, and the bestowment of the highest civilian award of Saudi Arabia, the King Abdulaziz Sash, to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the butcher of Gujarat and the radical, Xenophobic head of the anti-Muslim cult known as the Bharatiya Janta Party, has provoked bitter feelings on the Pakistani side. Surprising to someone who considered Saudi Arabia as purely an ally to Pakistan economically, politically and militarily, KSA has actually fostered strong economic ties with India as well, being India’s fourth largest trade partner, with 20 percent of India’s crude oil imported from Saudi Arabia. In 2019, when Indo-Pak tensions once again were at a peak, the two nuclear powers on the brink of war, Muhammad Bin Salman, though politically maintaining that he wanted to deescalate the conflict, landed in Delhi and, according to India’s foreign ministry, discussed trade and investment opportunities between the two nations. Sentimentalities hurt, Pakistan is in criticism of the Saudis, and the relationship further deteriorates with the recent covert meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, a meeting overseen by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The move is even more perplexing in the current status quo of Israeli expansionism into occupied Jewish territory and their annexation into Israel, with the endorsement of current US President Donald Trump, who, earlier this year, imposed a one-sided solution on the Palestinians, burying even the two-state policy and allowing for unilateral annexation of vast territories on the West Bank. KSA has friendly ties with the United States due to its aggressive stance on Iran and due to insurmountable economic motivators. However, Pakistan, stringent on its ideals aligned with the de facto Muslim bloc, has stood vehemently opposed to recognizing Israel, for the sentimentalities attached to the plight of Palestinians. With this action signaling an apparent shift of the Saudi attitude in favor of recognizing Israel, Pakistan now finds itself in the awkward position of being ideologically stranded in this cause. At the time of Pakistan’s inception in 1947, its neighbor to the West, Iran, was the first country to recognize the new state and establish diplomatic relations. The primary strain in Pak-Iran relations stem from the sectarian divide, with Iran being predominantly Shia and not only Pakistan but Saudi Arabia as well being predominantly Sunni. However, relations have been mostly cordial between the two nations, with Iran having supported Pakistan on international forums vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue, the two countries having a standing Free Trade Agreement signed in 1999, and both are also members of the Economic Cooperation Association and the Organization of Islamic Countries. Iran even supported Pakistan in the 1971 war. It would be prudent to recognize the relationship between the two countries as volatile, based on Pakistan’s government being pro-Shia or pro-Sunni. In retrospect, the relationship between the two countries was stable up until 1979, at which point the Iranian Revolution took place and Ayatollah Khamenei took power, whilst simultaneously in Pakistan, Zia Ul Haq’s military coup allowed the pro-Sunni army dictator to rise to power. Pakistan then supported Saudi Arabia in the Iran-Iraq War as an ally to Iraq, straining the relationship with its neighbor once more. Benazir Bhutto’s rise to power in 1995 saw improvement in bilateral relations as she visited Tehran and exchanged pleasantries with Iranian President Hafshemi Rafsanjani, calling Iran “a friend, a neighbour and a brother in Islam”. General Pervaiz Musharraf also maintained cordial relations with Iran, visiting Tehran twice in his 8-year tenure. Pakistan is economically reliant on Iranian allyship, for a multitude of reasons; firstly, the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project, also known as the Peace Pipeline, a 2,775 kilometer pipeline that would deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan, a country still heavily reliant on fossil fuel, with a demand that cannot be fulfilled by the volume of production at Sui and the limited resources to fully exploit it; secondly, Pakistan’s strongest P5 ally in China and the recent China Pakistan Economic Corridor has necessitated the need for good relations with Tehran, on both a geographical standpoint, since Gwadar port is located 40km away from the Iranian Chahabar Port, and on an economic and political standpoint, evidenced by Sino-Iranian Agreements and China’s investments in Iran over the years 2014-2018 surmounting to nearly $2.3 billion. However, India has proactively also struck a deal with Iran in 2016, entailing $8 billion investment in Chahabar port and industries in Chahabar Special Economic Zone. Nevertheless, even amongst occasional turmoil, Pakistan has managed to maintain cordial relations with Iran through a policy of moderation, serving to placate both Saudi Arabia as an economic ally and Iran as a geographical ally. The downside, however, of this policy of moderation, has been that Pakistan has not been able to call either a true ally. Pakistan’s relationship with Iran has furthermore prohibited it from condemning Iran’s nuclear expansionism in a post-Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty era, a move which has strained Pakistan’s relationship with the West even further. During the economic sanctions the US placed on Iran, Pakistan and Iran were still engaged in trade. Iranian allyship has also cost Pakistan Saudi reliance, due to their diametrically opposed sectarian clashes and pressure by the US. Even after Pakistan’s assistance to Saudi Arabia against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, Saudi Arabian allyship can be classified as one who can never be pleased, and Pakistan is unfortunately still naïve to that point. Pakistan’s relationships with the Muslim world, apart from KSA and Iran, have been of continuous support but little value, and where the value lies, it comes as a cost. As an example, we have had an ally in Turkey in modern times, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan being a constant, strong and ardent supporter of Pakistan in ideology. However, this allyship has proved a double-edged sword, since the reputation of Turkey in the global status quo, tainted by the radical, irrational and hot-blooded Erdogan, has attracted criticism galore. Ankara is currently under sanctions by the US as well as the European Union, and Erdogan, in classic Erdogan fashion, has just recently succeeded in aggravating both the US and the EU. In October, Turkey reopened the Varosha beach in Turkish-occupied North Cyprus, an action that has invited holistic condemnation from the EU as well as Russia as the matter is set before the United Nations Security Council with the threat of EU-imposed sanctions. Turkey is also testing its Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, evoking a debate within the US Senate on further sanctions. An ally in Turkey is tantamount to a friendship with a rogue, and has further tarnished Pakistan’s international image with how reliant it is on Turkey’s support, specifically under the PTI government. Pakistan, on an international stage, is so heavily reliant on support from its Muslim bloc, having essentially disregarded or devalued its relationship with the rest of the world to the point where the Kashmir issue being brought up on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly in 2020 sought no outcome, with only Turkey advocating Pakistan’s plight. It should be noted here that Turkey had recognized the State of Israel back in 1949, as the first Muslim country to recognize it. The UAE also recognized Israel back in August 2020. In a surprising move, the UAE has just recently suspended the issuance of employment and visit visas to a number of Muslim countries, Pakistan being among them, “till further notice”. This has created chaos and pandemonium for not just the 1.2 million Pakistanis currently residing in the Emirates, but also for so many more hopeful citizens who aspired to settle in the UAE. The State Bank of Pakistan has already warned that the forced repatriation of these skilled workers to Pakistan would massively worsen the employment crisis in the already tanking economy, amidst a paucity of job opportunities for them back home. On the matter of the upcoming 2020 Summit of the Organization of Islamic Countries, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote a letter asking that the issue of Kashmir be placed on the agenda for discussion, a request that was answered by no specific mention of the upcoming agenda including Kashmir. This was rebuffed by bold claims from the Foreign Office that Kashmir is a permanent agenda on the OIC, despite national and international news coverage on the shocking development. Pakistan has unfortunately, since its inception, been a passenger on two boats, and a member of neither’s crew; attempting to placate both the Western world and the Muslim countries, and failing to be truly effective at either. The socioeconomic and geopolitical instability of the new country had prompted the urgent need for strong allies, and Pakistan began working on it in a sense of desperation and hurry. Its formation on the basis of a separate Muslim homeland justified seeking out Islamic allies and form a Muslim bloc. Its adoption of nuclear power and stockpile of nuclear weapons made it an attractive ally in the late 20th century, as a nuclear spear for use by the Muslim world and strengthening the attacking arm of the Muslim bloc. However, with nuclear power falling out of favor in the 21st century, in an era of technological advancement, where high standard of living is considered the marker of development, Pakistan has been unable to catch up. All of the recent phenomena point to a tectonic shift in Middle Eastern attitudes towards Pakistan in favor of economic interests, and Pakistan, almost ignorant of the rapidly accruing global paraphernalia towards economic supremacy in the modern times, ravaged by war, internal conflict, civil unrest, corruption, insecurity and underdevelopment, is no longer the attractive ally it was. The weak Muslim bloc it relied on so heavily was merely an association of sentimentalities and attachment to a religion, which fell in practicality when faced with associations on the basis of tangibles like economy, trade, wartime alliances and investments. UAE and KSA made decisions in the current status quo that showed their reluctance to compromise their socioeconomic standing, and Pakistan still tries to gain favor with this bloc by purporting its initial ideologies. Ideology is ever-dynamic and heavily influenced by economic motivators, and Pakistan failed to recognize those intricacies with a raging bull approach to global politics. The recent recognition of Israel by UAE and the meeting between Saudi Crown Prince and Israeli Prime Minister, together with the inferences gathered by events such as the OIC refusing to add the Kashmir issue to its agenda, have brought us to a crossroads. Pakistan is now forced to choose between its moral and religious ideologies and the tangibilities of the real world. And for the future ahead, for the fate of Pakistan, for the Pakistanis of tomorrow, and for the hope of peace and prosperity, we Pakistanis can do naught but be optimistic and have faith. Shaniyaal Shahid is 3rd year MBBS student of CMH Medical College Lahore.