Pakistan must rethink its foreign policy
Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence in the Trump administration, thinks Pakistan has been regionally isolated due to India’s rising global status and its “deepening ties with the United States.” He also opined that “Islamabad has failed to curb militants and terrorists in Pakistan and, because of this failure these groups will present a sustained threat to the U.S. interests in the region.” President Trump too, during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, depicted India as the wronged party facing cross-border acts of terrorism.
Anyone in Pakistan will tell you that the country is isolated in the region. One reason the recent Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Saudi Arabia was negatively viewed in Pakistan was that it appeared to place Islamabad in opposition to neighboring Tehran, exacerbating the already lonely feeling aroused by India’s growing strategic relationship with its neighbors to its west. Even the infamous “Dawn leak” was presumably meant to inform the Pakistan Army that advocacy of Pakistan’s policies at the international level was hampered, if not killed, by its diplomatic isolation.
Pakistan has traditionally viewed its neighbors—Iran and Afghanistan—from the frozen perspective of its strategic opposition to India. Because of a lack of lateral thinking in the face of a changing regional balance of power, Pakistan has trailed behind the other contending powers, especially India. Even its close friend China has been more nimble-footed in its dealings with South Asian and Middle Eastern states. Offending Saudi Arabia to save relations with Iran is no solution to this India-induced solitude. Rather, it is Pakistan’s India policy that needs a radical overhaul—notwithstanding the media self-flagellation over Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent “private” meeting with an Indian business tycoon in Murree—including but not limited to resolving the Kashmir issue with India.