Changes in the Regional politics around Pakistan

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Muhammad Arif
Muhammad Arif: Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), Former Head of FSCD SBP, Former Head of Research ArifHabib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, Former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Most fundamental point that needs to be made right here is that Pakistan’s future will be determined – as has always been the case for all nations – by the decisions that Pakistan and Pakistanis have to make.

In the last two years the world order is not what it used to be. It has now become quite mainstream. There are some noticeable dimensions of this change that are of particular importance to countries like Pakistan.

First the balance between the great powers but also their relationships with allies is in flux. It is not just that China is rising, or that the united States, while still pre-eminent, is losing its flavor. Nor even that the Europeans are struggling to hold their union and India is trying to gatecrash into major power status with intense global diplomacy. It is also that long-stable alliances are suddenly unstable or, at least, uncertain. Turkey, still a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is flirting with Russia; Israel is wooing Saudi Arabia and its circle of influence; China is redefining the infrastructure as well as the diplomatic map of the world with its Belt and Road Initiative. Because there is uncertainty about who will end up at the top of the heap, it is also unclear who stands with whom, for how long and at what cost. Increasingly, countries like Pakistan are, and will be, asked to choose sides. And that will be neither easy nor without consequence.

Along with this in formulating our policies we have to bring our home in order as foreign relations are always based on the internal situation of the country.

  1. Here we find that only a fraction of Pakistan’s youth are equipped to compete in the global, digitally driven market and there is no formidable program for human resource development.
  2. Further Democracy in the country needs to be redefined.
  3. Populism, Authoritarianism, Ultra nationalism, Xenophobia in the country are on rise. Regional skirmishes are going on with Kashmir struggle as its focal point.
  4. Now we also need to redefine our belief that Pakistan’s greatest asset is its geostrategic location. The sum of seven decades of experience suggests that the neighborhood we are in has given us more losses rather than benefits. Of course, changing one’s location to a secluded island is not an option. A country cannot change its geographical location but it can try to understand its realities and learn to deal with them as best as it can.
  5. Its Energy demand is in transition. The greatest technological revolution we are living through right now is the energy transition that will likely continue through the first half of this century but still we are away from the benefits of this revolution.
  6. Commerce and employment are, however, not the only areas of global concern about digital futures. Especially since accusations that Russia used social media to manipulate voter preferences in the 2016 elections in the United States, there is much concern all around the world about social media as a tool of information and, even more, of misinformation. Pakistan, with its own very exuberant social media, is no exception. It is disheartening, however, to see the inordinate excitement that can be generated when talking about social media as a weapon of misinformation rather than as a tool for information.
  7. Climate change is one of the most important challenges facing humanity is not news. The industrialized world has so miserably failed in meeting its mitigation goals to meet the Paris Agreement target of restricting climate change to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This age of adaptation is a reality that Pakistanis across the length and breadth of the country are already confronting.
  8. Another most important challenge for Pakistan in the age of adaptation relates to water. In fact, one can say that water is to climate adaptation what carbon is to mitigation. This is because many of the most immediate impacts of climate change relate to water — sea-level rise, floods, droughts, glacial melt, etc. In Pakistan’s context, water stress very quickly becomes a food security issue. Vector-borne diseases are another key area of concern in the age of adaptation as is migration triggered by loss of livelihoods due to climate change. While much of the effort in adaptation goes towards disaster relief, the fact is that climate adaptation is best viewed with a developmental, rather than a disaster, lens. Unabated and ignored, climate change can also have security implications –– most strikingly through imperiling water and food security, but also by directly affecting military preparedness, as well as by diverting military resources towards a constant stream of disaster management and law and order duties.
  9. Finally the most important issue that is now confronting Pakistan is of Kashmir and on the west how to end Afghan war. Than the economic crisis is knocking at every body’s door with no immediate solution, inflation going up, increase on taxation on everyone, no way to control twin deficits, no formidable health and education arrangements. If someone questions he receives answers that they are occurring due to Zaradri and Nawaz Sharif periods without giving clue that what this governments has any plan to counter these issues.

Then enters Indian PM Modi who unilaterally scarped the status of Jamu and Kashmir and buried with it all understanding of the world made on the back of UN resolutions, Shimla and Lahore agreements while Pakistan reacted in a very mature and calculated way launching diplomacy as the best tool to highlight the bellicosity of India; Islamabad came out in support of Kashmiris by observing ‘Black Day’ on August 15 as Delhi celebrated the 73rd Independence Day.

For the first time, the world is increasingly witnessing demagogues elected by the people leveraging their fears of minorities and immigrants: Trump, Netanyahu, Modi and may be President Putin also fits the bill. Even Arab Countries are standing with these demagogues. Now the trend is even more obvious if the displacement of minority community has a tag of being Muslims: Palestinians, Rohingya and Kashmiris, for example and no Muslim country is raising a single word of protest against these atrocities.

In this environment, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a new term in office to the country’s powerful military chief nearly three months before he was set to retire in November. The document, circulated online, argued that “the decision has been taken in view of the current regional security environment.”However this has opened an undue debate as Imran Khan when he was in opposition strongly said that extension of any Military Chief means destruction of that country and of that institution. But here we should forget the words of Imran Khan as in all matters he uses such kind of arguments and finally takes a U Turn.

So on East, Pakistan has to deal with India and on west with Afghan war. In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration hopes to end his country’s war in Afghanistan by reducing troop levels ahead of the next presidential election in November 2020 with the help of Pakistan. However some time it looks that afghan war would end soon where Pakistan can play its role but thereafter some incident push it far away. Let us hope for the better.

Economic Parameters of Central and Western Asian Countries- 2019
Population

In million

GDP size $ in billions GDP (Nominal) per-capita

In $

Currency against 1 US $ Fiscal Deficit in % of GDP Current Account Deficit in % of GDP
Pakistan 205 320 1,541 Pak Rs 159.0 -7.5 – 4.8
Saudi Arabia 34 770 20,761 Saudi Riyal 3.75 -3.7 +2.67
Iran 83 430 5,289 Iranian Riyal 112,000. -2.1 +1.30
Turkey 83 714 10,537 Turkish Lira 5.30 -2.0 -5.5
India 1,371 2,690 1,940 Indian Rs 71.04 -7.0 -1.47
China 1,415 13,457 8,643 Chinese Renminbi 6.7 -4.0 +0.7
Bangladesh 168 286 1,602 Bangladeshi Taka 84.03 -5.0 -2.25

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