http://blogs.thefridaytimes.com/pakistan-needs-to-lobby-its-case/ Pakistan needs to lobby its case
Posted by Mirwais Achakzai
An outgoing French diplomat, who served in Islamabad for many years, very alarmingly explained Pakistan’s state of external affairs.
But first a little history. He explained how Pakistan had a cordial relationship with France which had been the first non-Muslim state to recognize Pakistan. During the Cold War, France considered Pakistan a “state deserving attention” and had been a major foreign supplier of Pakistan Armed Forces. She had also been an important partner, particularly for the PAF and Pakistan Navy. In 1967, France sold the first batch of its Mirage fighters as well as submarine technology to Pakistan.
In those days, Pakistan’s foreign office was quite actively lobbying and achieving results in securing major military and economic gains. He mentioned how Paris would get excited whenever Pakistan would announce it was holding a Qawwali concert in Paris. People would go mad and the concert tickets were snapped up two months in advance.
But today, he said, Pakistan is not really doing anything but it suffers largely of its image. When you talk about Pakistan, the western world thinks of terrorism, the Taliban and uncertainty. There is no tourism, the national economy is failing. But when you mention India, they think of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan
, and mega developments and defense projects.
This conversation really made one wonder what the rest of the world thought of Pakistan post 9/11. Even though Pakistan had little or nothing to do with 9/11, why does it suffer so much in terms of its international image?
It is indeed alarming, as times have changed. India has become more proactive in the equation. India is suddenly a potential market for the West. Europe wants to sell military hardware to India. Major corporations started investing in India. Many offshore offices have opened up in India. India’s fat defense budget and huge tenders prompted France and other western countries to consider it as a huge potential market for military hardware. India is currently in the process of securing a huge defense deal worth $8.9 billion known as the Rafale deal
, a contract for 36 Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft. Indian lobbies were so active in the west that, it turned away many deals from Pakistan.
The Indian government spends millions of dollars every year to influence the US government and other interest groups. It does this in many other important capitals of the world. This very Indian lobby steered away the $700 million deal for eight F-16 multi-role fighters, which was to be partially financed through the US Foreign Military Financing but Congress simply disallowed it.
Pakistan failed to highlight the Kashmir issue and the atrocities of Indian forces, whereas, the Indians were able to convince the west that Pakistan is to be blamed for the rising tension in Kashmir. Afghanistan and India, via their lobbies, persuaded the US state department that Pakistan was not doing anything or too little to eliminate cross-border terrorism. The pro-Indian lobby was able to block the CSF fund by Congress. In the process Pakistan lost it due to our politicians’ incompetency.
Appointments were made on political grounds. Irrelevant people, who had little or no background in understanding external affairs, were handed over the important Foreign Affairs ministry over the course of time. Successful lobbying by the Saudis, acquitted Saudi Arabia from the 9/11 congressional joint inquiry report.
US policy in the region is changing, as it eyes to curtail China through India. Recently India was designated as a major defense partner by the US. India has recently signed a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), an agreement that will allow the US and its allies to avail logistics support facilities. China is ambitious in the region and it will not wait for Pakistan. The only factor, which has kept us from becoming Syria or Egypt, is our nuclear capability, as the west cannot afford a disturbed and destabilized nuclear power in the region. Pakistan is so far failing on this front. It’s an alarming situation. If we are dreaming of becoming the next Asian tigers, or if Pakistan wants to buy military hardware, it has to invest in lobbies operating across the world.