KARACHI – Domestic policy including socio-economic and governance issues are inextricably linked with the foreign policy of a country, while the test of a country’s foreign policy is to withstand pressure in face of crises, states Ambassador (R) Shamshad Ahmad.
He stated this in his keynote address in the two-day workshop on Foreign Policy Making Process, organised by the Department of International Relations in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Islamabad, at the Goethe Institute, Karachi on Monday.
He stated that our dilemma in foreign policy since independence was the non-determination of the direction, which the country should take.
“Pakistan’s foreign policy has been shaped largely by the civil-military bureaucratic complex and there has been no consensus on foreign policy issues including Pakistan’s post 9/11 U-turn vis-_-vis its own Muslim populace.
Ambassador (R) Medic Maud in his inaugural speech stated that the raison d’ etre of Pakistan has not been lost despite the separation of East Pakistan. He particularly pointed out the discontinuity in domestic and foreign politics, which comes about due to changes in government.
He opined that without morale no individual and no country could achieve the tasks, which it had set for itself. Prof Dr Moonis Ahmar, Chairman, Department of International Relations, University of Karachi in his paper deliberated on the role of soft power in foreign policy making process. Elaborating on the concept of soft power, he said that India and Pakistan have adhered to the concept of hard power including threats and brinkmanship and thus have not instrumentalised soft power as a basis of their foreign policies. The United States has committed the same mistake in the post-9/11 global political scenario while the EU, on the other hand, has made effective use of soft power and is more pragmatic in its foreign policy orientation.
Ms Fauzia Wahab, MNA, spoke on the role of parliament and pointed out the imbalance, which exists between the office of the President and the Prime Minister. She said that Pakistan’s political history resembles a concentration of power in the hands of the executive, which has often come at the expense of the legislative branch.
Foreign policy matters were decided either in the GHQ, the office of the President or the Prime Minister and the Foreign Relations’ Standing Committee of the National Assembly has been largely ineffective in the making of foreign policy. She opined that people should be involved in foreign policy and the whole policymaking process be made democratic. Ambassador (R) Tariq Fatemi, in his paper on the role of Foreign Office, deliberated that foreign policy has been the preserve of an unrepresentative ruling elite and the Foreign Office has been more executioners rather than makers of foreign policy.
He said that Pakistan maintained an independent foreign policy when democratic governments were in power and that foreign secretaries have more often than not given their invaluable advice to people in power. Lt Gen (R) Asad Durrani, former head of ISI, spoke on the role of military and intelligence agencies and stated that their role is quite simple which merely involves assessing the military and non-military threats, which a country faces.
He said that foreign policy of Pakistan has been a mixed bag of both successes and failures. He further opined that Pakistan has established a condition of military parity with India.
He cited examples on how the civilian leadership took decisions, which were independent of the military establishment including the Geneva Accords of 1988 and the Composite Dialogue with India. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, presenting his paper on the role of public opinion, media and civil society elaborated on “intermestic” policy, which involves the interdependence of domestic and international policies.
He said that the biggest challenge to public opinion is a tendency of autocracy to prevail even in a democratic set-up. He said that public opinion has been largely ignored while the NGOs are elitist in character with no roots in the masses.
The media, on the other hand, operates as big business corporations with ties to the state on which they are dependant for information. The presentations were followed by a lively question and answer sessions in which the enthusiastic audience actively participated.
Source: The Nation, 29/4/2008