In the intricate fabric of global interactions, alongside formal diplomacy, Pakistan military leadership also plays an important role, forging robust ties with various nations beyond traditional military collaborations. These engagements, complementing diplomatic efforts, significantly contribute to Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives. Success in military diplomacy is nuanced, influenced by geopolitical shifts, regional dynamics, and evolving global scenarios. Despite challenges, Pakistan has achieved notable success, adapting adeptly to navigate international relations complexities.
In this regard, Pakistan’s proactive military engagement in socio-economic initiatives, notably through the Strategic Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), reflects a dedicated effort to attract foreign investment. Additionally, the country’s economic stabilisation strategies, including fiscal and tax reforms, alongside monumental projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), emphasise its commitment to achieving economic stability and fostering growth. Likewise, Pakistan’s relations with the USA do not compromise the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) or broader relations with China. For example, in the past few months, over 30 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) have been inked between China and Pakistan across various sectors including mineral exploration, processing, and extraction, climate protection, industrial production, commerce, communication, transport, connectivity, food security, media, space cooperation, urban development, capacity building, and vaccine development. Additionally, significant strides have been taken to upgrade railway infrastructure, exemplified by the $6.7 billion ML-I Railway Project, aimed at overhauling the Peshawar-Karachi route. Another noteworthy project is the construction of the 884-megawatt Suki Kinari Hydropower Project, which is progressing rapidly as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The focus of SIFC is also on attracting maximum international investments in its defined sectors i.e. Agriculture, Information Technology, Mines & Minerals, energy sector and defence production. Recognising Pakistan’s vast mineral potential, it is imperative to engage with US authorities for securing our position 2 in the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP). This initiative is designed to expedite the development of diverse and sustainable supply chains for critical energy minerals.
Concurrently, in the evolving landscape of US-China competition, Pakistan stands uniquely positioned to act as a mediator between these two major powers. With a history of mediating between states and possessing stakes in both the US and China, Pakistan brings a multifaceted approach to the table. Its capabilities as a mediator are bolstered by various factors, including trade relationships, defense collaborations, geopolitical interests, and economic interdependence. The recent meeting between the Chinese President and the Biden administration is a positive step toward regional stability, particularly for middle powers like Pakistan that could be significantly affected by the trade dynamics between these two global powers. Similarly, high-level visits including those of military officials underline the mutual commitment of nations to bolster relationships, especially in defense, security and economy. These interactions underscore Pakistan’s diverse accomplishments in the past 18 months. Notably, strides in combating terrorism & improving economic conditions have bolstered international community’s confidence in Pakistan. This is evident from recent foreign dignitaries visits i.e. Chief of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), British Army’s Chief of the General Staff, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Chinese vice premier and special presidential envoy, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Interior Minister, Vice President of the Republic of Turkiye, that interstate relations are based on realities and not on rhetoric and concocted lies. It is in this context, that despite a particular political rant against military establishment and other state institutions, does not affect the Pakistan’s relations with important countries like USA, UK, China, KSA, Turkiye etc. Moreover, Thomas West, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, will also be paying a crucial visit to Pakistan in Dec 2023, marking a pivotal moment in bilateral engagements. The visit will be followed by Elizabeth Hurst, Assistant Secretary of State, adding to the significance of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
These high-profile visits underscore the intrinsic depth and significance of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, emphasising their joint commitment to addressing regional complexities, particularly concerning Afghanistan. In this context, Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful Afghanistan aligns with its historical, cultural, and economic ties. The understanding of the threat emanating from Afghanistan and the commitment to ensure that Afghan soil is not used against other countries are pivotal points within the Doha Agreement between the USA and the Taliban, which indirectly involves Pakistan due to its geographical proximity and historical connections with Afghanistan. The discussion regarding the shared perception of threats posed by the heightened activities of the TTP also becomes a crucial focal point for deliberation. According to the Asia-Pacific Forum report, there has been a discernible trend in TTP attacks. From 2015 to 2020, these attacks steadily declined, a development largely credited to the operations conducted by the Pakistan Army. However, a shift occurred in 2020, marking a gradual increase in TTP attacks. The statistics illustrate this shift vividly: in 2020, there were 49 reported attacks; in 2021, this figure rose significantly to 198; and by 2022, the number further escalated to 237. Shockingly, the previous year saw 389 Pakistani casualties resulting from 317 TTP attacks. Compounding the concern, the Pentagon reported the use of leftover NATO weaponry and ammunition by the TTP, amplifying the gravity of the situation. The visit by high-ranking officials despite deliberate attempts to sabotage relations underscores the principles of rationality and the complexities of international diplomacy. While certain political factions or influencers may have conflicting views, state-level engagements aim to pursue national interests and stability. Consistent efforts to engage and uphold commitments with international partners are crucial, preserving a country’s credibility on the global stage.
Similarly, Pakistan’s active engagement at the United Nations, advocating for a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, mirrors its commitment to international law and justice. Ambassador Munir Akram’s call for accountability in 4 Gaza and COAS General Asim Munir’s proactive stance exhibit Pakistan’s unwavering support for Palestine. In conclusion, Pakistan’s dynamic role in global diplomacy and defense engagements exemplifies its commitment to peace, stability, and justice, emphasising its dedication to international cooperation and security. Military leadership, through its astute diplomacy specifically in security and economic domains, plays a pivotal role in shaping regional stability and fostering strategic partnerships.