Pakistan took a principled stance over the US-Iran military standoff, firmly stating that, its soil will not be used against any neighbour. The military standoff between US and Iran arose after killing of Iranian General Qaseem Sulamani, who was killed by US through a drone attack, immediately after he left Baghdad Airport in Iraq. Days after this unfortunate incident, Iran also targeted US military bases in Iraq through a missile attack, causing no human losses, as stated by US officials. Immediately after killing the Iranian General, US Secretary of State contacted General Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff and discussed the prevalent military tension between US and Iran. Later, US Defence Secretary also contacted General Bajwa, explaining the dynamics of regional security with particular reference to killing of Iranian General and subsequent developments.
General Bajwa is appreciated for his vision and farsightedness, he demonstrated while trying to defuse military tension between US and Iran. He advised US Secretary of State and Defence Secretary to cool-down and normalise the situation, since military escalation will neither be in the interest of US nor it would serve the Iranian interests. Moreover, it would further destabilise the broader Middle Eastern region, jeopardising the global trade and commerce. In way, any instability in Persian Gulf would have serious repercussions on Europe, Africa and Asia equally. The prudence and foresight of Pakistan saved the world from the disasters like, Operation Desert Storm, and 2nd Iraq War-2003.
Besides, General Bajwa clearly pre-empted the US top officials that, as a sovereign state, Pakistan will not permit usage of its soil against any of its neighbour by a third country. Indeed, he announced departure of an era, where Pakistan used to be part of super power’s proxy wars. It is a clear pronouncement that, Pakistan will not be part of any foreign state nor it would allow destabilisation of its neighbourhood, especially the Muslim states. Indirectly, it presumed that, Pakistan will now pursue its own independent Foreign Policy, rather taking the dictates from any external powers like it used to do in the past.
Pursuing an independent foreign policy will lead this country towards the path of internal cohesion and harmonised society while internationally giving it a greater adequacy among the comity of nations. This would be essence of the vision of the forefathers of Pakistan and true following of the Constitution of Pakistan. The Foreign policy of Pakistan has been derived from Article-40 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The salient guidelines for the formulation of foreign policy are; strengthening the bonds with Muslim world while simultaneously promoting international peace. This is a dual responsibility, apportioned and endowed on the state functionaries to keep a balance in establishing international relations with Muslim states on one hand and work together with rest of international community for the promotion of global peace and regional stability.
Since the Government is bound to follow the constitutional provisions, therefore, let’s not deviate from the making dedicated endeavours for preserving and strengthening the fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic ideology and a wider unity. Iran being a neighbour and brotherly Islamic state cannot be allowed to be attacked militarily and destroyed by external powers. Pakistan has efficiently played its part in evading an imminent conflict in the Persian Gulf between US and Iran. After convincing the American leadership, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan has embarked on a visit of key regional countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran to meet his counterparts.
The visits aim at convincing the leadership of these countries that, their bilateral differences and enmity do not serve their long-term purposes. Rather, such rivalries would weaken them internally and the gulf of misperceptions would allow external powers to exploit them, putting them in a greater turmoil with wider implications for the Persian Gulf. Historically, Pakistan has been a great advocate of unity among Muslims. In order to undertake this gigantic task, successive Pakistani leadership have always tried to mediate, negotiate and facilitate the brother countries to adopt a path of peace and reconciliation for their common good and greater stabilisation of Middle East.
Under the changing geopolitical environment, Pakistani leadership clearly understand the emerging scenario in the Middle East especially around the Persian Gulf region. Indeed, the Middle East has become a centre of global power play; where great powers are physically war gamming their military strategies while Muslim masses are becoming prey to their power politics and rulers of some states act as their tools.
While the immediate Pakistani response has contributed a lot in averting an imminent conflict in Persian Gulf, let’s pursue an independent foreign policy while keeping in view the national interests of Pakistan as supreme. In this regard, all institutions of Pakistan must act in unison towards a domestic harmony, peace and political stability. Since foreign policy is sum total of domestic policies, therefore, let’s stabilise the domestic front where all political and religious forces must be united towards attainment of national interests and sovereignty of Pakistan.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.