At a minimum level Pakistan’s core national interests can be identified as:
- Territorial integrity & sovereignty.
- Socio-economic development.
- The resolution of the Kashmir dispute
- Protection of our citizens wherever they may happen to be.
Keeping the above in mind, PTI’s external policy will constitute the following:
Update and expand institutional structure: Over the years the delivery of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has deteriorated as its institutional structure has failed to keep pace with the demands of the changing global environment. Four institutional prerequisites will be put in place in order to enable MOFA to deal with the new external environment and policies more effectively in terms of successful foreign policy operationalisation.
One: A more robust, proactive and specialised Foreign Service, more expansive in numbers and more efficient, with more specialised qualifications – as part of the overall civil service reforms. Our MOFA must be focused on furthering not just Pakistan’s interests abroad but also ensuring protection of our citizens abroad. In this context a major priority of PTI will be to ensure rapid and responsive consular services to our citizens abroad especially those in jails in foreign countries.
Two: A major vacuum, which has resulted in a serious disadvantage in the conduct of our foreign policy, has been the lack of a proper International Law section within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). We envisage playing a major role in multilateral forums at a time when international law, through expanding treaty and UNSC resolutions’ frameworks, is becoming central not only to multilateral diplomacy but also bilateral relations.
Three: A more centralised and coordinated organisational framework for effective diplomacy requires all aspects of diplomatic activity especially in our Missions, such as press, to come under the purview of the MOFA and the Envoys in our Missions. Hence External Publicity, which was initially part of the MOFA, should directly coordinate with and eventually be re-linked with the same Ministry.
Four: Establish a policy coordination cell within the PM office to coordinate inputs from key national stakeholders and Ministries into the foreign policy, for informed decision-making. External policy cannot run on parallel official tracks.
Pakistan is placed in a strategically critical location but we have failed to exploit this to our advantage. In fact, over the years we have allowed this to become a source of weakness and exploitation especially by Extra Regional Powers. Course correction in this regard must be a major priority in terms of external policy.
With regard to external policies, PTI’s guiding principles will be of reciprocity, mutual interests and international norms that will govern Pakistan’s relations at the bilateral and multilateral levels. We are committed to initiating new policies rooted in Pakistan’s priorities, including a conflict resolution approach towards improving our relation with our eastern and western neighbours.
- This will include work on a blueprint towards resolving the Kashmir issue within the parameters of UNSC resolutions. For lasting peace within our own region, especially with our neighbour India, conflict resolution and the security route to cooperation is the most viable.
- Also, in the context of bilateral relations, PTI’s focus will be on moves to expand the existing strategic partnership with China, as well as with our other allies in the region, including the newly emerging cooperation with Russia. With the US, reciprocity and mutuality of interest will be the determinants of our relationship.
- At an overall regional and global level, Pakistan needs to continue expanding its interaction in terms of bilateral and multilateral activities. Due to the altering global and regional parameters, old allies and traditional relationships cannot be taken for granted.
- PTI’s major policy goal, in the new external milieu, will be to sustain and increase its relevance regionally and globally, focusing more actively on multilateral diplomacy through critical multilateral forums from the UN to the EU. Pakistan must play the role of a bridge builder and honest broker amongst the states of the Gulf by adopting a non-partisan role in intra-Gulf conflicts.
- The UN provides Pakistan an opportunity to play an active role in multilateral diplomacy. We need to expand on that role especially on crucial international issues like terrorism, non-proliferation and international peacekeeping/peace enforcement.
- There is also a need to look more attentively towards East Asia and core states in other parts of the world such as Latin America and Africa.
- PTI will prioritise politico-economic diplomacy to revitalise the economy through foreign direct investment and trade. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce would prepare a roadmap to this effect on an urgent basis. An essential prerequisite is for complete coordination between the MOFA and other Ministries in relation to all aspects of external policies.
- To strengthen the parliamentary system and the voice of the elected representatives, PTI will seek a constitutional amendment to give Parliament the authority to ratify all international treaties after being presented for debate.
There is a need for an institutional framework to deal effectively with internal security – A National Security Organisation. There is a need to have such an institution in which all the stakeholders can come together, strategize and oversee operationalisation of a national security policy, in a structured, organisational manner. There is also the need to overcome the NACTA logjam – and end bureaucratic turf wars.
NACTA is not wide enough in scope, in terms of issue areas and membership, to undertake this role but NACTA can act as the Secretariat to a National Security Organisation. Such a body should have the Prime Minister as its Chairman and comprise two parts: One, the Plenary Council where decisions regarding policy and strategy are made, and which would have the Minister of Interior as the Deputy Chairman while members would be the Ministers for Finance, Foreign Affairs and Defence as well as the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Chairman JCSC, COAS, CNS, CAS. Secretary would be the DG NACTA; second, the Specialist Working Group which would include as members Heads of all 8 intelligence agencies, Police rep, Paramilitary rep, and the Deputy Chairman of this Committee would be the DG NACTA. Such a body should also be institutionalised at the provincial levels as this would also allow the intelligence coordination that is a critical starting point for any security strategy. Civilian and Parliamentary responsibility and control are essential and must be factored in.
Objective must be to deal with internal threats to the state at multiple levels to defeat the four main objectives of the insurgents & terrorists: ideology, manpower, funds and weapons/explosives. The State’s policy must lead to strategies to meet and counter the threat at all these four levels.
PTI realises the need to treat this scourge of terrorism on multiple fronts in order to provide security for ordinary citizens so that terrorists are unable to melt into the population and find shelter there; and to convince the militants to lay down their arms. At the same time PTI recognises the need to address genuine political grievances, especially of the people of Balochistan and FATA.
Reclaiming ungoverned spaces. The first step must be to reclaim all the state’s ungoverned spaces. The writ of the state has to be established and this cannot be done simply through military action. It requires putting in place a viable administrative and economic structure in place. A beginning has been made with the merger of FATA into Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province but we must ensure that the structures of civilian administration are put in place as quickly as possible so that the displaced population is facilitated into resettlement.
To counter terrorism, PTI will begin implementing a comprehensive internal security policy based on 4 E’s:
Expose links between active and passive (those who provide logistics support but are not part of the fighting force) terrorists and seek to win over the latter so as to isolate the hard core elements who rely on local populations for support – the local population acts as the rear of the terrorists. By separating the passive supporters the state deprives the terrorists of an important component of their support structure.
Enforce and fully implement all components of the consensual National Action Plan as well as implementing Pakistan’s international treaty/convention commitments on counter terrorism. PTI would seek to choking terrorist funds by ensuring an effective National Terrorists Financing Investigation Cell (NTFIC).
Eliminate those hard core terrorists, who refuse to lay down their arms and surrender to the State, through a comprehensive joint military-civilian action plan of isolation, extermination and blowback prevention. A major focus on this aspect of the counter terrorism strategy would be eliminate sources of supply of weapons/explosives to the terrorists.
Educate the population through developing a counter ideological narrative by co-opting religious scholars. Why is a counter narrative critical? Because militants need social space for their existence and growth. In their minds they see themselves as law enforcers, administrators, teachers and justice providers. Having gained social space, they seek out physical space and as governance weakens they become stronger. So it is critical for the state to reclaim social space along with physical space. Media co-option would also be sought to project an effective counter narrative.
PTI will also focus on restructuring syllabi and mainstreaming Madrassas by providing them with proper educational facilities. This would entail teacher training including the establishment of special Islamic teaching academies with diplomas for teaching. Another component of mainstreaming Madrassas would be a public-private “adopt a Madrassa scheme” where the business enterprises in the local area are given tax benefits etc for adopting a Madrassa, upgrading it and offering apprenticeships to its graduating students.
To ensure success of PTI’s counter terrorist strategy, an immediate step will be taken to reform the criminal judicial system and revise the Anti-Terror legislations so that it is precise and focused on terrorism.
PTI will not allow Pakistan’s territory or people, including its armed forces, to be used by any other nation for the promotion of its political ideology or hegemony, for promoting terrorism or for destabilisation of any other state.
PTI’s Defence and Security policy will be made multidimensional to deal with the emerging nature of threats at multiple levels, especially the enmeshed internal-external dimensions of the threat of terrorism.
- Credibility of Pakistan’s full spectrum deterrence will be ensured.
- PTI will move substantively on the bilateral strategic dialogue with India encompassing all aspects of the strategic nuclear deterrence so as to prevent a spiralling nuclear arms race in the region.
- PTI will push for the principle of non-discrimination in all arms control and disarmament measures, including global nuclear disarmament.