No compromise on national interests of Pakistan | By Prof Dr Muhammad Khan


No compromise on national interests of Pakistan

NATIONAL interests of a sovereign nation state are universally defined as redlines which the nation and state are not ready to compromise at any cost. These are realistic but ambitious goals of a nation which are essential for its political, economic and security survival. A sovereign nation state jealously safeguards its national interest and does not allow any internal or external actor to compromise over its national interest. The famous jurist of international relations, Hans J Morgenthau, once said about national interests, “The interest of a nation as a whole held to be an independent entity separates from the interests of subordinate areas or groups and also of other nations or supranational groups any foreign policy which operates under the standard of the national interest”.

The national interests of Pakistan are well defined and clearly stated as; a) no compromise over the sovereignty, independence and integrity of the state by anyone whatsoever, b) persuading the right of self-determination for people of Jammu and Kashmir, c) no compromise on nuclear capability of Pakistan under any circumstances, d) ensuring national defence and security through a highly professional military, e) having a friendly neighbourhood, especially a friendly and peaceful Afghanistan and f) maintaining brotherly relations with all Muslim states while drawing a fine balance in its relationship with all major powers and international community. Whereas India cannot be given concession over Jammu and Kashmir through illegal and unilateral acts like August 5, 2019 the same state must not be encouraged to get a foothold in Afghanistan for re-starting militancy against Pakistan while making use of Afghan soil. Similarly defamation of military through politicization is a highly undesired act since it creates a wedge between masses and the prestigious institution.

The unfortunate part of pursuing national interests of Pakistan has been that there has been short-sighted leadership that could not really comprehend the essence of national interests of Pakistan. Ever since the death of Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the syndrome of personal interests have dominated in Pakistan and Pakistani national leadership has been found wanting in conceiving and pursuing the element of national interest, national pride and national sovereignty. This unfortunate process is continuing in some form even today. A national realization has to be evolved with very strict checks on those who tend to compromise the national interests of Pakistan and especially to hold accountable those who did it in the past.

National interests of any nation are hampered by two factors; external factors and internal factors. In the case of Pakistan, the external factors (powers) have always tried to underestimate, exploit and down play Pakistani geopolitics and its domestic social and ideological strength for their own vested interests. This is the essence of power politics in a global system which is anarchic in nature. Owing to its pivotal position, Pakistan has suffered the maximum at the hands of external powers, following the concept of power politics of major powers for the regional domination. An excellent counter to this external factor, affecting the national interests of Pakistan has been that over the years, Pakistan developed its defence forces as highly professional with most sophisticated equipment to meet any external challenge. The most recent example has been the war against terrorism which was an externally planned campaign against the state and society of Pakistan.

Since it was a well-conceived campaign against Pakistan, therefore, the planners expected a big blow to the security and national integrity of Pakistan. The external powers had engaged Pakistan on multiple fronts: Terrorism, sub-nationalism, ethnicity, factionalism, sectarianism, hybrid warfare and social unrest. The defence forces of Pakistan defeated all these external strategic planning through their effective counter- strategies. In the war against global terrorism, the Pakistani military came out as the winner whereas the world’s top armies had to face humiliating defeats in the neighbourhood of Pakistan (Afghanistan). The Indian aggression against Pakistan on 26 February 2019 was a great plan to engulf Pakistan had there been no response by Pakistan Air Force on broad-day light, very next day (27 February 2019).

Whereas, Pakistan came-out successfully at external front, domestically there have been serious concerns with respect to national interests of Pakistan vis-a-vis parochial personal interests. In most of its history, there have been parochial personal interests as dominant factors. These personal interests encumbered most of the national interests and potentials, the nation realizes now with far reaching repercussions. Unfortunately, despite realization of damaging impact of personal interests over national interests, this process hasn’t stopped. Rather, it is going on un-checked and with new stimulus, further damaging the state and its institutions’ severely.

Indeed, neither individual nor the personal interests should be taken as inevitable for Pakistan. No one should be considered as inevitable, everyone has to go finally, but the state of Pakistan and the nation has to stay for ever. A famous saying sufficiently explains this concept; “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” Let’s understand the golden principle; ‘Politics is not just a game of clashing parties and competing interests to gain power, promote personal interests, exploit opponents and ignore and relegate the national interests.’ The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good and to leave this nation better than you (the ruling class) found it.”

The national leadership and key stakeholders should stand accountable and answerable for their past activities, especially in upholding and protecting the national interests of Pakistan. This is the biggest question for those who ruled Pakistan for decades without a positive, perceptible and incremental development at the level of state, governance, institutions and society. In order to elevate the status of Pakistan in the contemporary world, let’s strictly follow key principle: Individual, personal and community interests should not dominate national interests of Pakistan.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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