[Backlog post — article received on 8 November 2013]
The episode of conventional trod behaviour that discouraged economic ties with preoccupied fears of losing the ground to competing markets is no more a show stopper. History is in the making. The landmark Asia-Europe Summit likely to be convened in Delhi, India soon is a glaring example of changing patterns of politics in Europe who seeks to pursue a lending hand from the rapidly growing East Pacific states to steer her out of precipitating recession that has engulfed Southern Europe for quite some time.
Given the visualizing idea of prospective EU-ASEAN free trade zone, the South Asian economic giant, India has played her cards very tactfully. She has expanded her arms beyond the traditional horizons and she is striking vertical economic ties from Europe to East Pacific.
The latest Sino-India border agreement aimed at mitigating security hazards on the McMahon Line that registered unprecedented understanding and improvement of their bilateral ties bears testimony to the developments that even China, the strategic ally of Pakistan, is no more a bulwark to her expanding economic goals.
Pakistan is slumbering on the drastic political changes of the region and beyond that. Still oblivious of the shifting regional dynamics and foreign policy maneuvers of the states whose hegemony we fear, still defining our priorities with the respect of domestic constrains, we couldn’t for a while give it a thought to what positive outcome it could reap for Pakistan if she were on the forefront of the Summit. However, she is not.
Opinion-makers are in a mess. A curious and disturbing phenomenon is that the political climate is driven on a confrontationist stance with the US after the gruesome (gruesome in a sense to abort peace talks between Nawaz-led government and TTP) incident of killing Hakeemullah Mehsud in a drone strike. The opinion-makers and policy makers have confined their scope of thinking to the morass of debilitating situation against terrorism; they have neglected the interests of Pakistan abroad.
Yes, the nation understands the gravity of the government attention on terrorism and appreciates the efforts for preparing the ground to mark the peace talks. But, at the same time grinding poverty, capital flight, exploding population with no proper health facilities dictate the state to broaden the scope of policies.
Under the stressing miseries, the public wants tangible relief. Turkey and Europe are looking forward to Southeast Asia; their practical trade will require a transit route. Here comes Pakistan to fulfill what feasible route they demand.
Before any inordinate delay, first, a viable strategy needs to be formulated and she should make some headway in the coming Summit of Delhi to compensate her lethargy. Besides security, she should also compete with her archrival India in the field of economy.
In depth, confining ourselves in the gamut of domestic issues while totally neglecting the burgeoning international developments can prove a catastrophic showdown for us. India’s progressive economy and her tightening of ties with regions like East Asia, Southeast Asia and Europe is a sign for Pakistan of the negative implications to come. Therefore, the latter should adopt a countervailing approach and avail the changing circumstances to her favor. Europe is in the pursuit of immune strategy to cure her off the recent recession and we should capitalize on it. Who knows her immune strategy might also cure the lagging problems of Pakistan.
Jameel-ur-Rehman Zaib is a graduate in International Relations from National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad, Pakistan.
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