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Leadership crisis

After the United States President Donald Trump’undeveplomatic tweet and subsequent punitive action in the form of suspension of security assistance, Pakistan’s political leadership is still in the state of hibernation. The Prime Minister is amazingly looking up to his disqualified leader Nawaz Sharif to allow him, articulating an appropriate response. Never in the history of the country have the people seen such a docile leadership particularly on the foreign policy front. Ironically, Pakistan’s leadership failed to give a brief initial response to President Trump tweet in a subtle diplomatic jargon with in few hours of this tweet. It was not the job of Chinese foreign Ministry to give a quick response to the United States on behalf of Pakistan, nor was it the prime responsibility of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to give response expressing solidarity with Pakistan.

In an interview with British newspaper the Guardian, Prime Minister Shahid Kaqan Abbasi has viewed the relations between Pakistan and the United states through a prism of bilateral economic and military cooperation ignoring America’s domineering role in world affairs at the platform of United Nations and its leverage over West European powers. He said that the US financial assistance was insignificant. Elucidating his point of view, he said that annual disbursement of aid in the last five years has been less than the $10 million a year. So when I read in newspapers that at the level of $250 or 500 or 900 has been cut we are not at least aware of that, he added. The figures of actual disbursement of direct assistance released by the US Agency of International Development US AID) tells totally a different story. According to US AID, in 2016 alone the US gave $778 million to Pakistan of which 35 percent was military and the rest was economic. Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif stepped into the shoes of President Trump and said that US is acting as friend towards Pakistan who always betrays. This is not the language which a foreign minister should speak. He should have not followed the foot prints of the US President. Ones violation of diplomatic norms should not offer justification to the other to do the same, particularly when the United States and Pakistan need each other in combating terrorism.

If for argument sake it is assumed that the US direct financial assistance is insignificant one must not ignore its influence over the economic aid released by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.  The United State is a major donor of the first two lending agencies and enjoys 70 percent voting rights for sanctioning economic assistance to loans seeking countries. IMF approved a financial bail out package of $ 6.6 billion for Pakistan in July 2013, the first month of PML-N government. The financial corruption, mismanagement and extravagance of the present government has necessitated a much bigger IMF bail out package during within the next few months at which State Minister for Finance has hinted between the lines. World Bank has provided $ 5.4 billion for 29 investment projects up to April 2017. In 2016 loans disbursement was $ 2.3 billion whereas $ 800 million were released in 2017. Likewise, the Asian Development Bank has signed two agreements with the government of Pakistan on 17th December, 2017 for economic assistance of $ 380 million. Pakistan leadership should not forget the diplomatic fiasco resulted from the blocking and reopening of NATO supply to Afghanistan after the Salala Check Post incident in the previous PPP government. It was the economic factors that compelled the government to reopen NATO supply for Afghanistan after six months. The current economic situation is the worst as compared with that of 2011. The present government is neither doing the balancing in the domain of foreign policy by garnering the support of China and Russia in the face of mounting pressure of the US on Pakistan, nor is it showing realism and pragmatism to diplomatically engage the United States to mend the ruptures in the bilateral relation.  The country is deliberately being pushed towards international isolation and economic disaster. It must be realized that beggars are no choosers.

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