What would be Pakistan’s Foreign Policy under Imran Khan?

Pakistan's foreign policy
Souce - jahagir world times

Imran Khan, the cricketer turned politician bagged the election polls in the month of July by winning 149 seats defeating the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party. Throughout his elections campaigns, Khan focused on key issues like anti-corruption agenda, which primarily attracted the youngsters and the candidates from the oppositions. Some report indicates that Imran Khan has earned his votes namely from the youngsters which comprise about 63% of the population in Pakistan. Youth symbolizes the next generation which can move the country into the new phase of political and economic development which surely Mr. Khan has achieved to win their hearts. But will he be successful in steering Pakistan’s Foreign Policy?

What would be Pakistan’s foreign policy?

As they say, number speaks everything in politics, Imran Khan the winning PM candidature, proclaimed his victory ahead before the official declaration by the Election Commission. Addressing to the nation and the world, the PTI leader in his speech praised and thanked the citizens of Pakistan and especially the people of Baluch for supporting him despite major ongoing hurdles during the elections. He raised his concerns over domestic issues and assured the citizens by tackling the problems. Presently, the economic condition of Pakistan is worst, and the main aim of the new government is to normalize the condition of the nation. To stabilize it, Khan needs to improve relations with its neighbouring countries and built strong ties with the USA.

In his victory speech to the foreign policy section, he laid down his vision toward his foreign policy priorities. The order of his priorities depicts his inclination and interest towards the respective nations. The order was as follows. China, Afghanistan, United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia and India

How could be Pakistan’s relation with China? 

First on his list of countries was China. After the official win, China was one of the few countries to congratulate Khan on his victory. China assured that despite the change in the internal political leadership, the ties between Pakistan – China would still strengthen. China has been its all-weather friend and the relationship further continues to deepen as China’s successful CPEC project is at its core. Through this project, China is boosting, uplifting the economy by building world-class infrastructure in Pakistan. China’s interest in Pakistan is obvious and for that matter Pakistan also needs China. China is not only building infrastructure but also uplifting millions of unemployed workers out of the poverty line by giving them work. Today, Pakistan economic condition is at its worst and surely it needs a friend like China which would help to come out of the trap. Khan stated that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is surely something that Pakistan can learn from this experience and continues to deepen the ties with the country.

How could be Pakistan’s relation with Afghanistan?

Peace in Afghan meaning peace in Pakistan. The relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is disturbed since both the countries face terrorism. Over the years, the Afghan Taliban are growing in numbers and Pakistan is blamed for sowing the seeds. The disputed Pashtun region which was divided during British India has created major hurdles for both the countries. The critical issue of Pakistan is the Afghan repatriation. The Sharif government had set a deadline to repatriate the Afghan refugees by 30th May. Since the government was outgoing with the new government, they extended the deadline for a month and then by another month so that the deadline ends on 31st of July. But the formal cabinet meeting is expected to be chaired by the new Prime Minister where it is decided soon as a deadline again. He stated the “War on Terror” and said that the Afghans have suffered a lot and the nation needs peace and he would make all efforts to end the conflict in the region. Most likely, the new PM will have peace talks with the leaders of the Taliban and the President of Afghanistan. Further, he also stated that he wishes to have an open border with Afghanistan like the European Union. Whereas on the other hand, the Pakistan military is planning on to fence the Pakistan-Afghanistan border – (Duraan line). It will be interesting to note on how Imran Khan will be dealing with the border issue.

Mutual beneficial relationship with the USA?

Since a few years, the relationship between the two nations has increasingly strained with high levels of mistrust. The relationship between the two went through varying levels of friendliness but still, Pakistan chose to stay close ally of America. Khan in his speech surprisingly said little about the current complex relationship but did call for a “mutually beneficial” relationship as opposed to the “one way” present states of ties, which he says had brought much harm to Pakistan. After the US sanction on Iran, Pakistan stance on supporting Iran has not pleased the USA rather has decided to cut military aid worth $300 m to Pakistan. Furthermore, it is confirmed as on the date of writing, that on September 5, 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would visit Pakistan to discuss the USA-Pakistan bilateral relationship of the two countries. This move comes amidst as a failure to tackle the militant groups and Islamabad’s inclination towards Teheran. Some reports also suggest that Pakistan’s close ties with China since the few years has also lead tensions between the bilateral ties of Pakistan and China.

Will Pakistan be soft on Iran?

Iran, being the fourth in line on Khan’s victory speech, was one of the few countries to accept Pakistan as a sovereign Independent country after its independence in August 1947. The relation of Iran-Pakistan had always been cordial since former President Ayatollah was sympathetic on relations with Pakistan. The Baloch insurgency has kept both the countries intact since both the region have similar issues in Eastern region. But in recent times, Iran has lost faith in Pakistan as it sees Islamabad as the Enemy’s land by Saudi Arabia and the USA and a rival of Afghanistan. Pakistan needs to assure Tehran by rebuilding its trust to get back into normalcy. But after the US sanctions on Iran, the new government seems to be soft on Tehran by rebuilding the lost bond and its inclinations towards all the Islamic nation world.

Will Pakistan ease tensions with Saudi Arabia?

In his speech, Khan assured the Saudi crown that Pakistan will play a crucial role in mediating peace in the Middle East and would help Saudi Arabia in whichever matter to ease tensions in the regions. The relationship will be a win-win situation for Pakistan as Saudi Arabia is a close ally of the USA and also an Islamic nation. The ties of both the countries will surely deepen during the Khan’s regime. In a statement released by the Pakistan Tareek-e- Insaaf (PTI) which is Imran Khan’s party has officially announced the new Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia in the month of September. It is analyzed that, the meeting would be strategically be discussed on the middle-east on deploying troops in support of Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. It is also seen that in his visit to Riyadh, Khan would diplomatically encounter India-Saudi ties to booster Saudi-Pakistan relations.

Will the relation of India-Pakistan will improve?

Last on his list was India. The relationship with India has been worst since the birth of both countries. Constant attacks by the militants on Jawan and the Army personnel in the disputed area of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) is the concerning issue for both the country. Many governments tried to connect the bond between the two but failed to some extent. Imran Khan in his speech raise his concerns over Kashmir issue and said it is one of the prime agenda of the PTI government. He further said that he was sad to hear that the “Indian media is portraying him as the villain of the Bollywood “ Further he highlighted his desire to improve trade relations with India. The trade relations with both the nations will strengthen ties and reduce poverty and boost the economy.

How did the worldview Khan’s election?

The world watched the election very closely but the verdict was unfair, the captain played a fixed match and won it. With 22 long years of hardship in establishing the party, Imran succeeded in managing the hearts of Pakistan. The neighbour brother China, congratulated Pakistan, on its victory but China’s understanding of democratic free election is pretty limited. The USA on other hand is skeptical and claims the elections to be rigged. A report from the US state department states the lack of freedom of expression in Pakistan which is surely going to be watched in days to come.

International media analyst claimed Pakistan’s election to be expected back by the army and support from many fundamental radicalist parties. Khan attracted votes from the conservatives, fundamental parties, the Taliban’s, and the military. Being the native of Pashtun was an advantage as the votes were favoured on him. The only question was would the PTI win in the majority or not? Nonetheless, the PTI party became the single largest party at the national level. At the provincial level, it won large seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab province, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was largest in Sindh and the newly formed Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) – was the largest party in Baloch.

There have been reports suggesting the allegation on pre-polling rigging bring conducted by the judiciary, army, and the intelligence to control over the election results in favour of PTI against PML-N. However, election commission outrightly rejected such reports and stated that elections were conducted fair and free. According to the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), an election watchdog said that the 2018 General Election have been “more transparent” in some aspects. While the European Union- Election Observation Mission, a campaign for Pakistan’s general elections states “lack of equality” which meant that all the political party did not fairly participate.


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