Not politics but economics is vital for materializing regional connectivity. There are no permanent friends and enemies but only permanent interests. Pakistan has a pivotal geo-strategic location even then India, Afghanistan and the US are trying to isolate it internationally because Pakistan has never taken into consideration the importance of geo-economic.
Connectivity hub is a fundamental tool which makes other countries endeavor for Pakistan’s stability. But for that to happen, Pakistan needs to ameliorate its internal situations. The foreign policy of Pakistan has always been pro-US centric. This needs to be changed. Pakistan needs to cultivate, sustain and extend its relationships with the countries its interests intersect. Connectivity hub approach demands that Pakistan must drop out its CPEC as a substitute for its foreign relations approach. Indeed, CPEC is vital and indispensable for Pakistan’s economy and future prospects but it must not be stated as an alternative to its relations with the regional and extra-regional countries.
In addition, present bureaucratic structure needs to be revamped. The Foreign Office must be rewired itself from geo-strategic to geo-economic phenomenon. New linkages at Ministry level must be embraced such as Commerce (trade and transit), Planning (CPEC and new development around connectivity), interior (visas) and relevant provincial departments would become central. A body under the tutelage of the prime minister needs to be formed to coordinate regional connectivity functions with civilian and military spheres.
Moreover, the large policy community, strategic think tanks and journalists, should be incentivized to study various connectivity scenarios. State-linked strategists and National Defence University (military’s equivalent) could be tasked to take the lead in preparing a cogent vision for a regionally connected Pakistan.
Putting it into a nutshell, Pakistan must make the world worry about its stability and economic progress and prosperity. Indeed, the world has to play its part in getting Pakistan stood on its feet socially as well as economically. What Pakistan needs to do in this case is to elude its traditional way of dealing with foreign affairs. If the country fails to act in cultivating regional connectivity hub, it will leave itself in relentless limbo.
Saqib Khan Yusuf Zai
Lecturer, Professional Trainer & Management Consultant