Monday’s briefing to editors and anchor-persons was definitely not Sartaj Aziz’s finest hour. Those pushing the questions should have known better than ask him about the lack of a full time foreign minister, at least, especially since he was in a special kind of ‘denial’ mode. There’s no need for a full time minister, of course, since the advisor on foreign affairs, in his own words, is doing a pretty good job. So, “no”, the lack of a dedicated foreign minister is in no way a problem.
And there’s no question of Pakistan being isolated either – regionally or beyond. So, while the Americans are clearly breaking off, the Afghans have all but broken away, and the Indians never got too close, Sartaj Aziz believes Pakistan ‘is pursuing an active foreign policy for promoting and protecting its national interests’. And to go on and claim that Pakistan was following ‘the model of the United States in shaping its foreign policy’, since Washington gives good consideration to any advice from the Pentagon, is bordering on the outrageous. Little surprise, then, that allegedly very few people agree with Aziz sb even in the tight confines of the foreign office.
Far more prudent foreign policy-specific advice has come from across the eastern border, though, as PM Modi calls for both countries to work together against poverty. Also, there’s no denying his boast that India, under him, has just outdone Pakistan in terms of international diplomacy. He has substance to back his claim, unlike Sartaj Aziz, who was just keeping up his habit of making heroic claims. However, if Aziz has any influence on foreign policy, he must advise the PM to engage more constructively with India. Pakistan is, despite Aziz’s claims, badly isolated in the region. We must, therefore, build friendly diplomatic and trade relations with all our neighbours. And good ties with India will not just make for good politics, but also great economics.