Khan has surprised all by absolving the US of any conspiracy against his government. The government would wish Khan to provide answers for the change in his narrative on a foreign conspiracy that ousted him. Washington says there is not and there has never been a truth to such allegations. Economists and political scientists are trying to calculate the damage caused to Pak-US relations due to these allegations and open defiance. Foreign Office is pleased to note that bilateral relations would remain unharmed.

Time to clarify a point or two.

One: Inter-state relations should not be confused with human interaction. Whereas human relations are generally driven by emotions, the relations between two states are run and managed through the prism of national interest. Secondly, narratives of foreign policies are not built only on the basis of emotional dictums like ghairat or honour.

Two: Any significant change in foreign policy may not be conceived unless you have all the pre-requisites available to implement it. Statements need to be measured in millimeters. There is no need to show one’s strengths or weaknesses unless it is absolutely inevitable. Diplomatic norms dictate that even if you fully qualify to issue a policy statement, you carefully choose the timing and platform to do so.

Three: As we are not Haruspices, one may avoid speaking in absolute terms while having some space available to deal with unforeseen future developments. Secondly, there is a very thin line between bravery and stupidity. Astute leaders know how to swallow personal pride when it comes to promoting one’s country’s national interest.

Four: There is no such thing as an ‘independent’ foreign policy. Barring a few powerful countries, no State can decide to run its foreign relations on its own. Both the centripetal and centrifugal forces need to be factored in to present and promote national interest in the comity of nations. Secondly, the convoluted concept of the master-slave relationship has no space in international relations. Applying the same analogy, the entire EU would seem enslaved by the US as the former generally tows the latter’s line in dealing with important global matters. If the US is not vigorously pursuing the two-states solution in the Middle East, does it make it the slave of Israel? It’s about ‘give and take’. It’s about reaching the middle ground.

Five: And it’s also about ‘affordability’. Russia can afford to say no to the world and go ahead with its objectives in Crimea, Belarus and Ukraine. Its military and economic prowess provide it with enough leverage to play around its national interest on its own. China can defy the US on several global issues. But when it comes to trade & commerce, China would see its own companies’ interest rather than making it a matter of pride. India can say no to the US but only when it believes it can afford to do so. Owing to a number of geo-strategic and economic factors, the US is pursuing a partnership with India with an eye toward the next one hundred years. India is aptly serving the Western causes in South Asia particularly with reference to China. The US, therefore, might overlook India’s import of oil from Russia. Why demand an equal treatment?

Six: The roles must be defined for Alexander and Aristotle. In their respective roles, they are unmatched rather invincible. But if you give an automatic weapon to Aristotle and a laptop to Alexander, you are looking at an epic disaster, to say the least. Secondly, being popular does not mean you have mastered Einstein’s theory of relativity. One never saw Quaid-e-Azam advising on setting a field in a cricket ground. Or, Abdul Sattar Edhi explaining the shortest aerial routes between Germany and Japan.

Seven: Loquaciousness does not suit a leader unless it is a dinner table. The more you talk the more you make mistakes. He who does not speak, does not make any mistakes. After issuing sweeping statements, saying that you did something ‘embarrassing’ or ‘it’s over’ or ‘it is behind me’ or contradicting your earlier stance yourself, could at best portray you as someone trying to mend ways. First accusing a country of hatching a regime-change conspiracy and subsequently wondering if the ‘culprit’ was the country or its South Asia Division in the Foreign Office, shows a serious lack of understanding and homework. Leaders do not get a second chance unless one hails from the top five powerful countries of the world.

Eight: No one is stopping Pakistan from establishing a ‘dignified’ relationship with the US. However, calling yourself ‘slaves’ and saying that your country has been used in the past as a ‘hired gun’ or ‘tissue paper’ is all but a dignified way to introduce yourself. The State’s past policies and commitments must be owned regardless of who the Chief Executive was at a given time. If you have a doable plan of action to change the dynamics of international relations, on your own, it should be made public. How are you going to rid the country from the IMF’s clutches or the now unbearable debt burden? How do you think a cash-strapped country like Pakistan is going to break the shackles of ‘slavery’ on its own while openly defying the existing world order?

Nine: Either ‘this or that’ or ‘black and white’ approach suits only the powerful. Secondly, it may be realized that it’s not about you. It’s about the country. One could detract from one’s loose remarks or flashy statements. But what about the country that has to suffer the consequences? Why provide ‘others’ a pretext to either castigate you, punish you or simply ignore? Either way, your country stands to lose.

Bottom line: At the core of the ongoing chaos lies the wishful endeavour to seize the moment, have snap elections and return to power. Limerence of power is not a bad idea. However, that doesn’t mean one puts everything else at stake including the country’s economy and foreign policy.