Foreign policy woes (Daily Times (Pakistan))

In the current juncture, Pakistan’s foreign policy and diplomatic stature have taken a nosedive. It was probably the first time diplomats from its main western and eastern neighbours, Afghanistan and India, were summoned to the foreign office to protest border ‘violations’ on the same day. The surge in terrorist attacks in Kabul in recent weeks prompted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to blame Pakistan, even threatening the unleashing of a full scale war. All the diplomatic manoeuvres, including facilitating the Murree talks by Pakistan’s military and political elite in the last six months, have botched.

The border skirmishes on the eastern border and the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir have escalated in the last few weeks. Media rhetoric on both sides of the Radcliff Line has become more and more belligerent. Rows on agenda and Kashmir in the talks between the national security advisors in Delhi on August 23 were in jeopardy less than a day before schedule. Kashmir has been on the backburner for years now apart from odd references dictated by Pakistan’s military establishment in official news bulletins. The question of a UN plebiscite is now a nostalgic fiction.

The stalemate will continue. The notion of the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime in Delhi being the cause of increased hostility in relations and an impediment to the resolution of issues is an exaggerated alibi. For the last 68 years these issues remained unresolved when the ‘secular’ Congress-led governments ruled India. In reality, the Indian and Pakistani ruling elites have a common objective in keeping these conflicts simmering to whip up national and religious chauvinism to crush the class struggle and internal dissent. These nuclear-armed states can neither afford to go for a full-scale war nor can they forge durable peace and friendship.

The US and its western allies have increasingly treated Pakistan as a C-grade country in the South Asian subcontinent. How could they not when they have a readymade market of 300 million Indian middle-class to exploit? The friendship ‘higher than the Himalayas’ is more of a contractual relationship of the Pakistani ruling class with the Chinese oligarchy. Since 1978 there has been not a single grant from the Chinese ruling clique. The aid for natural disasters has been miniscule compared to that of the west. China is on an investment spree everywhere from Africa to Asia and Latin-America. The so-called ‘corridor’ is an investment of Chinese capitalists under the tutelage of the regime in Beijing. With up to 27 percent interest rates the $ 46 billion loan will be an extensive burden on the Pakistani toilers already fraught with burgeoning foreign debt. The other elder Islamic brother, Saudi Arabia, has been recently infuriated at the reluctance of the Pakistani state to send troops in to join the Saudi aggression in Yemen, resulting in the furious scolding of the elite for this disobedience. However, the reactionary UAE regime has contemptuously ridiculed and insulted Pakistan publically.

The extraordinary visit of Narendra Modi to the UAE last week bruised egos and chagrined the obscurantist elite intelligentsia that sets ethics, morality and concepts of friends and foes in Pakistan. It rubbed salt on the wounds of their perverted egos and ethos. Modi was given full honours by the rulers of this despotic Sheikhdom. Modi opportunely lambasted Pakistan in his speech: Those who were responsible for horrendous terror attacks in the country like the 1993 Mumbai blasts and the 26/11 attacks still being harboured by Pakistan ought to be punished. In order to combat terrorism, India and UAE will share intelligence in counter-terrorism operations.

Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, along with his five brothers, welcomed Modi at the VIP airport in Abu Dhabi discarding the official protocol wherein a visiting dignitary to the country is only welcomed by the foreign ministry head. The UAE has also extended support to India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. The UAE hosts specially flew in India’s leading chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, to cook Modi’s vegetarian meal. Startlingly, the UAE’s Islamic monarchs allotted land for the first-ever Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. Modi thanked them for this ‘landmark’ decision. However, the most significant outcome of this visit has been the announcement by the Sheikhdom to invest $ 75 billion in India. This has sent shock waves to the Pakistani elite’s economic establishment.

For decades the Pakistani rulers have laid red carpets for these Gulf sheikhs. They come to Pakistan not just for houbara hunting but have indulged in all sorts of hedonic pursuits. The state slavishly facilitated them in their obscene luxuries for mere crumbs, including putting huge tracts of arable, fertile land at their disposal for exploitation and forcing peasants towards destitution and homelessness. The antics of the Saudi and UAE despots shatter the notion of Islamic bonds and religious fraternity. It is farcical that the ‘highly educated’ bureaucrats and politicians in Pakistan from ‘top’ western universities seriously believe they will help Pakistan in being an ‘Islamic state’. These upstart reactionary Gulf monarchs only use religion to perpetuate their own despotic rule. They have accumulated mammoth wealth from oil revenues and have filled the coffers of western imperialists for providing them security and prolongation of their oppression and drudgery of the Pakistani and other migrant workers in these artificially carved out ‘countries’.

In the last analysis, foreign policy is the continuation of domestic strategies. Under capitalism all these policies are engineered to preserve exploitation for the accumulation of capital and a consistent rise in the rate of profit. Whatever dictatorial or ‘democratic’ political superstructure is employed to sustain capitalism does not matter. These are means to an end. If Pakistan’s foreign policy is facing disaster, its society and people are also suffering the catastrophic torments of capitalist crisis. The massaged macroeconomic figures of Pakistan’s economic establishment can be used by imperialist financial institutions and agencies to upgrade the ratings of this right wing bourgeois government but the plight of the masses hardly figures either in statistics or in the domestic and foreign policies that are exclusively devised to serve the interests of the ruling class.

However, the socioeconomic predicament is palpable. The system has lost its capacity to develop society. The masses have suffered for generations but it is only they who can arise on a class basis to carry through a revolutionary transformation. This will not just change the economic system from market vandalism to a democratically planned socialist economy but every other aspect of state and society will also be transformed. Foreign policy designed for the lust of corporate profits will be abolished. All treacherous anti-people pacts and treaties will be exposed as was done after the victory of the Russian revolution in 1917. A revolutionary foreign policy designated on a class basis will relate to the interests of the working people of different countries and not their oppressive rulers. Such a policy will lead to the spreading of the revolution far and wide.