India-Middle East engagement should make Pakistan rethink international relations

India-Middle East engagement should make Pakistan rethink international relations

Short Url

The G20 Summit 2023 was an eye-opener for India as well as for Pakistan. However, the catalyst for both the substantiated revelations was different. India realized that hiding its marginalized population and poverty behind 21 ft. high green covers won’t work, and that its ambition of registering itself as a global key player was still premature. Meanwhile, Pakistan was exposed to the reality that past relations based on ethnicity, religion, race, and color had no relevance in the present.

India’s presence in the Middle East is multi-dimensional, ranging from people-to-people connections to investment in health, education, media, and film industry. India has sustained its democracy. Without going into detail about how flawed it is, it’s still a visible continuity in the system. It is not about advocating a particular type of government, the only necessary thing is continuity in the governing system. Pakistan predominantly lacks in that domain which creates hiccups in policies, especially economic policies. So if Pakistan is feeling neglected in the world at the moment, it is because of multiple strategic failures as part of elected governments.

India has economic growth of 7.2 percent and is attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows reaching a new record high of $85 billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year. FDI investment inflows into the manufacturing sector rose by 76 percent, rising to $21 billion annually. An exceptional rise in manufacturing sectors indicates massive industrialization taking place in India.

Pakistan must learn to sustain its policies, must develop a habit of keeping promises, and above all its needs, before exhibiting any response over emerging interactions between India and the Middle East.

Shazia Anwer Cheema

India achieved its economic goals by focusing on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the last several decades. 

Where does Pakistan stand economically today? This can be understood through a brief statement of its caretaker Federal Minister for Commerce and Industries Dr. Gohar Ejaz who was not shy to express the realities of Pakistan’s economic health while talking recently with media in Karachi. He said that no country could survive with a $9 billion annual income while paying the same amount for retiring interest on its loans. He was of the view that since 1986, Pakistan had not come out of the debt trap and it always looked toward Saudi Arabia, China, and other Gulf countries for money-lending to survive economically.

Pakistan is continuously scraping its needs on a short-term basis. Policies made by predecessors become victims of political vengeance and new policies sooner or later meet the same fate. The global financial system does not support non-SDGs, and Pakistan for the first time in its history has designed a framework for sustainable development. The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) is a long-term investment security and sustainability guarantor. Pakistan’s core problem of changing policies with changing governments and halting development projects for animosity can no longer be an option.

Now, for the first time in its decades of foreign relations with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and China, Pakistan is not asking for money but offering workable and sustainable business opportunities through the SIFC.

The global future is based on a win-win situation and Pakistan’s style of being ‘always in need’ frustrates even its all-weather friends. 

Pakistan must learn to sustain its policies, must develop the habit of keeping promises, and above all its needs to keep its own house in order before exhibiting any responses over India-Middle East emerging interactions.

The majority of foreign affairs books published in the 21st century emphasize that the end of bloc diplomacy in the post-Cold War period changed the dynamics of international relations and now the importance of any country is linked with its economic health rather than its alignment with any global powers. 

Consequently, financially weaker countries do not have any “bloc leader” who can bail them out of their economic or strategic crises. In simple words, international relations have different drivers from those in the previous century. Pakistan must realize the situation and only then can it move forward.

- The writer is an author, columnist, and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media. She can be reached at @ShaziaAnwerCh

Email: [email protected]

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view