Should today’s Pakistan foreign policy take lessons from the SZAB government?

By Najeeb Ullah 

Before discussing the question in the title, we should first understand and compare the foreign policies of both periods, then we will decide what should or should not take lessons from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s periods.

When Bhutto was in power, he introduced our nation in front of the whole world with a good and strong foreign policy. He introduced the best tools of foreign policy in Pakistan to secure national interest at regional and international levels. He had worked much for Muslim sovereignty and Muslim determinations in international scenarios. He made good relations with superpowers during the bipolar system for our socio-economic and political well-being, e.g. our relations with the USA and USSR were not based on terms and conditions and also not based on do more policy or something like that. By such relations, he succeeded in making steel and other industries in Pakistan. Other socio-economic and political developments during his period were education, infrastructure, atomic struggle, health, education, etc. His big achievement in his period was the establishment of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1973, we survived and made our policies based on these constitutions. He had visited many countries for foreign relations and peace-building processes. He was a mediator in the peace-building process in different regions of the world. We can see his role as a mediator in Middle Eastern conflicts, He has talked for Palestinian Muslims, the Middle East, Africa, and Kashmir Muslims in regional and international forums. He also worked for the Muslim world with the idea of protectionism, regionalism, and nationalism. He tried to bring regional and Muslim leaders on one page in the form of different regional cooperation for regionalism and somewhere he built multi-lateral and bilateral relations.

As far as my knowledge is concerned Bhutto has also provided an idea of the use of oil as a weapon to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia used its oil as a weapon and was able to achieve their national interest at regional and international levels. Another big achievement in his foreign policy is the gaining of atomic power. He said that we would make an atomic bomb even if we had to eat the grass and finally he achieved atomic power to create the balance of power, the balance of terror, and the balance of threat in regional and international politics because without making atom bomb we were insecure in the regional and international sphere. Therefore Bhutto is called the founder of nuclear deterrence in the history of Pakistan. We can see his multi-lateral role in UNO, ICO, and Shimla conferences. After the partition of Bangladesh, He made bilateral relations with Bangladesh. He played a great role in the Shimla conference in a peace-building process.

Saudis, Iran, China, and whole regional, Middle Eastern, and international relations especially the great involvement of Pakistan in international relations or the international system politically elaborate to us that the Bhutto period was one of the good and precedent periods in the history of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Another thing to define the successful foreign policy of this era is that both the opposition and the government had good relations as compared to other periods in the history of Pakistan. Slogans were not raised against Bhutto’s government, because he was very able to adjust to socio-economic and political issues. Many scholars say that, Bhutto was one of the big diplomats in our foreign relations history, and great diplomats are those diplomats who have the guts to win diplomatic matches and interest. When he was going to peace talks with foreign diplomats they had a great ability to negotiate with best wishes for his nation and securing of national interest and Bhutto did this many times. An argument is famous for his diplomatic tools that he won with diplomatic negotiation during the Shimla conference. And making good relations with China is also the best future strategy for our nation in international relations. Finally, I will try my level best to write his political mistakes in the period that Bhutto brought a not well-trained military officer Zia-Ul-Haq as the prestigious core commander. After the coming of Zia Ul Haq as the prestigious core commander whole nation and national structure were disturbed. Extremism and political instability were created gradually, and espionage and conspiracy against the Bhutto government were rising. This is not my argument against Zia Ul Haq but this argument is shown by his book (My Pakistan) which was banned by the Pakistani military after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had been hanged.

We have discussed Bhutto’s period and his foreign relations, his policies, his strategies, socio-economic and political development, and his struggle above. Now this article will discuss the current government and its current foreign policies, current relations (bilateral and multilateral), social development, and socioeconomic and political relations, and will discuss the current government struggle under an umbrella of comparative foreign policy analysis about these two periods. For this, first, we need to see relations with neighboring countries. In this sense, we have hostile relations with our neighboring countries because once Indian philosopher said that you can change your friends and enemies but you cannot change your neighbors, geography is a big determinant of foreign policy and we cannot neglect geography in making our foreign relations or foreign policy. In this sense, it can be said that good relation with neighbor countries means a good foreign policy. But we have God-given foreign policy determinants (geography, natural resources, and other national assets) with hostile relations with neighbors as well as other countries. E.g. we have hostile relations with India, Afghanistan, Iran, and UAE which openly shows that our foreign relations are not good. Our international relations scholars say about Saudi Arabia in our foreign policy as our big brother. Now we have to see what our relations with our big brother are, our relations with Saudi Arabia are not good, for example, he has returned the AID that he has given for our development during the government of Imran Khan in a matter of recognition of Israel, and the favoring of Saudi Arabia in Saudi Iranian conflict. Other factors are that our regional organizations are in ventilators like SAARC, OIC, etc. which are not in a good position if we compare it with Bhutto’s period and Shah Faisal. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran and current Prime Minister Shabazz Sharif have visited many countries within five years to establish foreign relations but today our foreign relations are not good as compared to Bhutto’s period. Furthermore, some relations are also peacefully developing day by day e.g. relations with China, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, and Qatar are hopefully and peacefully developing. Nowadays our current government is also trying to develop peaceful relations with Afghanistan if succeeds in facing national and international challenges. Our relations with big powers like the USA, United Kingdom, and Russia are nominal, especially since we fail to keep balanced relations with Beijing and Washington. This means our current foreign policy is like a slow boat with no direction perhaps our basic issues will be more and solution makers will be less. Therefore our socio-economic and political relations are not on one page. Opposition parties have been protesting against the government with different slogans sine 5 years like Go Shabazz Sharif go and Go Imran go, these slogans show that our current governance policy and foreign policy always fails in his relations trials. We can always see opposition (left politics) against the government and we cannot see supposition (right Politics) anywhere, only governments come with fragile policies and fragile governance models.

Bhutto’s period was also on the brink of opposition, many political, extremist, and left groups were fighting against Bhutto’s government and some people make the connection between Bhutto and his policies with the partition of Bangladesh, but it does not mean that Bhutto was a fragile, hawkish and one-dimensional leader, according to many political and democratic experts, Bhutto was charismatic leader. Many other historical factors also existed during his period. For many reasons United States of America was interfering with his policies because he was in the period of the Cold War between the USA and USSR and Bhutto provided space to communism which was an ideological threat to the USA.

Comparative analysis of the two periods shows that we should take lessons from Bhutto’s period and his foreign policy, as we all know that the inflation rate is increasing and the nation is not socially functional in front of the world development, which can be shown by loans and AIDS, provided by different states, and actors to our government with terms and conditions. Accordingly, we need to revive Bhutto’s policies, governance structure, and his goals. We need to bring trained people into government, especially our foreign policymakers should be well-educated in the foreign policy-making process. They all should be good readers to lead world societies as well as national and regional societies. We should again make good relations with world societies i.e. UAE, EU, USA, Russia, and also need work in regional cooperation.

The contributor is a student of M.Phil (International Relations) at Karachi University. He belongs to Haramosh, Gilgit. Email: Najeebkapoot4080@gmail.com

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