The PTI government, led by Imran Khan, took charge at a time when Pakistan faced a number of regional and international challenges. But the captain of the new team had no experience in handling international affairs.
Four year into the term, Khan is facing the no-confidence motion moved by the opposition parties against him. Tales of international conspiracy to remove Imran Khan’s government are making the round. The government sympathisers are blaming the US and the Europeans countries of bank rolling the opposition parties in a bid to remove Imran Khan. They are also claiming that the enemies of Islam are hounding Khan because of his faith in pan-Islamism.
This attitude of the PTI supporters is deceptive and dangerous. Khan landed in Moscow at a time when the Ukraine attack was brewing — the most serious onslaught by a powerful country on a weaker neighbour since after the Second World War. To him, it was “an exciting time to be in Moscow”. The current conflict in Europe has the potential of becoming a global crisis. However, the world community pressed the UN general assembly to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and demand the withdrawal of all Russian forces from the Ukrainian soil. Pakistan along with 35 other countries decided to abstain, and called this “neutrality” – which, in words of Imran Khan, amounts to being an “animal”.
Immediately after the Russian folly, Khan targeted the EU envoys in a public speech, which was proclaimed by his supporters as a defiant declaration of independence from the imperialistic countries of Europe. His foreign policy experts cite the Western duplicity in destroying countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. They also blame the West for turning their eyes away from the persecution of Indian Muslims in Kashmir. All these are genuine concerns but it does not prove that our foreign policy is now grounded in national interest.
Let us not forget that Moscow has supported India on Kashmir since 1948. Pakistan has always faced a Russian veto in the Security Council on Kashmir.
Pakistan must condemn the Russian onslaught on Ukraine not because the US and European countries want us to but because it is the fair thing to do. Respecting the territorial integrity and freedom of a country is a fundamental principle of any civilised society. This brazen attack on a weaker nation is a blatant violation of the UN charter.
The US and the European countries have a long history of illegal intervention in other countries but let us not forget that two wrongs do not make a right. Pakistan just cannot condone the Russian adventure in Ukraine.
Between Pakistan and India, Kashmir has always been the stumbling block. Let us not forget that Moscow has supported India on Kashmir since 1948. Pakistan has always faced a Russian veto in the Security Council on Kashmir. The US and the European Union countries are our biggest export markets and they have the decisive vote in the IMF and the World Bank. All our military hardware comes from the West.
Imran Khan expressed jubilation in a public statement made soon after the Taliban victory in Afghanistan. He said, the Taliban have broken “the shackles of slavery”. His pro-Taliban stance was criticism in the foreign media. It was during the PTI rule that India annexed India-Held Jammu and Kashmir.
Imran Khan has repeatedly stumbled and spoken ignorantly on sensitive foreign policy and national security issues. In April 2019, he told The New York Times, “Mr. Modi’s government might actually be the best possible option for settling the Kashmir conflict”. His recent claim that the US was told “absolutely not” to their request for air bases on Pakistani soil was denied by the US administration, thus exposing his childlike handling of the foreign policy. Also, the hue and cry over not receiving a phone call from the US President further adds to his list of blunders.
Pakistan’s relations with China have been disturbed as well, because of the government’s confused policies and anti-CPEC statements issued by Khan’s advisors and ministers. China is rightfully worried by the recent upsurge in terror attacks on Chinese nationals working on the CPEC projects.
Imran Khan’s amateurish handling of the foreign policy has annoyed our old allies and friends — and has pleased India.