Foreign policy is all about interest and engagements: IR experts

Pakistan Foreign Policy

Pakistan has close relations with the Middle East states and these relations are important for religious, strategic, political, and economic reasons, said Director General Pakistan House Muhammad Athar Javed while addressing a webniar in Islamabad on Friday.
Pakistan’s foreign policy fostered stronger ties with the Middle East through expanded trade. In addition, Pakistani workers employed in the Persian Gulf states, Libya, and Iran provided remittances to Pakistan that was a major source of foreign-exchange earnings, the DG said.
Foreign policy is all about interest and engagements, panel will elaborate further.
The webniar was Pakistan House an independent think tank hosted an International Webinar on Pakistan’s Middle East Policy: Bilateralism Vs National Interest today that was attended by experts and professionals from different walks of life to share their views on the subject.
General Phil Jones (retd.), former Chief of Staff NATO (UK), Chairman Army Benevolent Fund, UK- International Security Advisor shared that Middle East has its own interests and perspectives.
Pakistan has three potential areas to increase engament with Middle East i.e. Fiscal, Regional military relations and finding Security solutions. Military to military engagement is easier than political to diplomatic engagements.
Syed Muhammad Ali, Director Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS) said that Pakistan has trained and groomed many diplomates from 41 states and there has been a regular participation from brotherly countries.
In terms of security, it has to be seen in detailed and different context. Besides China, Turkey has been greatly supporting Pakistan and Pakistan’s national security. Pakistan expects other Arab states to be friendly and critical as well.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Professor School of Politics and International Relations at Quaid-e- Azam University, Islamabad was of the view that there are three major groups to keep in mind when considering strong bilateralism in the Middle East: GCC, Turkish group and lastly Iran.
If focusing on pursuing the national interest Pakistan needs to establish good relations with all of these three groups.
Umer Karim, PhD Scholar, Birmingham University (UK) and Visiting Fellow at RUSI, UK asserted that each side including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan need to see that what leverages they hold in order to continue having good relations.
Pakistan is not contributing significantly towards Saudi national security which is why Pakistan’s presence in Saudi Arabia does not count much. For bilateralism, Pakistan needs to strengthen its economy and security.
Issam Hamid, Managing Partner, Abercross Holdings, former Chief Investment Officer at Saudi Economic and Development Co, UK said that there four factors that direct the economic relationship of Pakistan with the GCC: remittance and huge labor force, Investment of GCC countries in Pakistan, the oil and non-oil trade and lastly, the aid and loans.
The remittances that Pakistan receives from the Saudi Arabia are a backbone for the economy of Pakistan. For instance, these remittances have helped Pakistan procure the modern defense equipment from Turkey.
Lt General Asif Yasin, HI (M), (retd.), former Commander 11 Corps, Peshawar and Member Advisory Board of Pakistan House analyzed that the relationship between Pakistan and Middle East countries should be a comfortable arrangement.
The biggest challenge that Pakistan faces today and has been challenging its stability from a long time is the fragile economy of the country. If the economy was strong and stable, no country, regardless of its international power position would have been able to influence Pakistan.
If Saudi Arabia finds India as a more beneficial partner, it has the right to move in that direction but their relationship should not be at the expense of Pakistan’s stability.