Is Pakistan ready for a multipolar system? | Pakistan Today

Is Pakistan ready for a multipolar system?

  • Politics is not only driven by regional and international outreach but also by economics

The world is moving away from a system of hegemony (with one state influencing the international landscape) and a bipolar world. We saw this for decades during the era of Cold War where nations preferred to operate through negotiations than fight major wars. The Warsaw Pact and NATO being examples. In a strong bipolar system international organisations tend to be weak, however in a loosely knitted bipolar system, they tend to be more effective.
Different actors share power in a multipolar world. Three or more than three states share the power. Alliances are formed that “are a necessary function of the balance of power operating within a multiple-state system.” (K. A. Mingst, J. L. Snyder: Essential Readings in World Politics, W. W. Norton and Company, 2004, page 127)
A multipolar system bases itself on investments from foreign states and organisations, imports and exports and a greater degree of interdependence between different states.
The key is to create a better balance of power between different states. This creates a check and balance on one or two powers that have over the past interfered in issues of different nation states to fulfill their global ambitions at the cost of national interests of states interfered with.
The US National Security Strategy document in 2017 marks the beginning of a new era — it pin points the forces that are and will be on a path of confliction with US. These are China and Russia. Obama’s policies had focused on containing both using economic strategy.
Russia emerged yet again with annexation of Crimea in 2014 and her expanding influence in other states to counter the influence of US. Syria being a prime example. Russia is favouring a policy of collective security — with other states leading to a weakened US influence.
China is emerging from a status of from an economic power to a political power. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connecting population of three continents, developing infrastructure where needed is a step in this direction. This project will spread beyond being an economic one to one that will undoubtedly increase China’s political sphere of influence in the world.

Pakistan’s foreign policy has unconditionally been formed by the circumstances it came in creation. However, high time the approach and narrative must change with ground realities

Pakistan was close to US. A ‘favoured ally’ — a status now changed with changing geopolitical and economic global situation. US needs to contain China in the region and counter Russia. Her leaning towards India is apparent. It is a delicate act of balance for Pakistan who must protect her national interests while engaging with other powers to check US in her goal of hegemony that can have a negative cascading effect on Pakistan.
However, placing all the eggs is the Chinese basket is as bad as placing all eggs in the American basket. CPEC notwithstanding. Pakistan needs to attract a higher degree of FDI from other countries. The factors that govern FDI are physical infrastructure, business environment and regulatory framework. Pakistan faces serious challenges in governance, weak institutions, crippling corruption and far from satisfactory security situation. Political stability can only come throw transparency and accountability.
Shelton Kodikara in ‘Strategie Factors in Interstate Relations in South Asia’ writes; “‘For Pakistan’ as Strategic Survey commented in 1971, ‘the choice is now either resignation to life as a relatively small Muslim State, almost as much Middle Eastern as Asian, or alternatively a forlorn struggle to retrieve the Eastern territories by diplomacy, perhaps with the aid of China’.”
What is extremely important for Pakistan is to spread the base for interstate interaction on multidimensional fronts including economic, strategic, military and political. The new alliances at many points will overlap with old alliances. Politics is not only driven by regional and international outreach but also by economics.
Closer ties with regional nations are a first. If one recalls, though Nepal remained distant when Indo-Pak war broke out, Sri Lanka leaned towards Pakistan.
Public diplomacy, projecting a soft image of Pakistan, is the need of the day. Instead of using violence, states resort to negotiations and more peaceful methods to resolve issues and attain goals. To achieve this, Pakistan must use multi fronts including her cultural, economic and political base.
Uri Dubinin, Professor of the Department of Diplomacy of MGIMO-University of the RF MFA, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation defines the role of diplomacy beautifully, “What is the art of diplomacy? While the art of war lies in the ability to claim victory through the force of arms, the art of diplomacy aims to achieve the goals set through peaceful means. It is, therefore, the antithesis of using force to solve international problems. In the art of diplomacy, it is the international community’s accumulated experience that serves as a weapon, as does – and herein lays the essence of it – an innovative, creative approach to problems arising. It is on the basis of this that one acts to provide a solution.”
Pakistan lacks a coherent, long-term view on issues that reflects in its poor diplomatic efforts-if any. Governments come and governments go, the thrust towards issues involving nations remains even — of course needing periodic assessment based on emerging situations. Diplomacy needs to be flexible. It must. One must choose one’s battles and every battle is not fought with bullets. Gaining trust of other nations’ key figures is mandatory to develop a relationship that leads to more listening than demanding.
Pakistan’s foreign policy has unconditionally been formed by the circumstances it came in creation. However, high time the approach and narrative must change with ground realities.
In the emerging new world order, those in Pakistan’s power corridors must emerge from the strategy of Cold War period and be prepared for the multipolar world unfurling before them.

Yasmeen Aftab Ali

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: [email protected] and tweets at @yasmeen_9.



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