- And opportunities for Pakistan
The significance of Brexit concerns those who believe and think it concerns them. Interestingly, little is of concern to Pakistanis according to those who believe Brexit does not concern us. Despite what many would like to believe, this may and will have serious repercussion not only for Pakistani origin British but will also affect those who are in Pakistan. However, the important question has more to do with the question that how can Pakistan leverage and position itself to an advantageous point from the Brexit.
Lessons from Brexit: It is important to take a few lessons from the Brexit experience without going into the ‘right or wrong’ of the original decision or falling into a moral dilemma. The first lesson from Brexit is that strategic policies or decisions concerning national interests should be dealt without being sentimental or getting into emotional about them. When nations or countries make decisions which are somewhat “sentimental” and less pragmatic, they may end up in bigger messes than they can handle. Pakistan’s interests stands higher than any emotional attachments. The second lesson being that politicians or decision makers must comprehensively understand and be “comprehensively educated” to lead or inform the public regarding national interests and depict true picture regarding a certain matter. For instance, (purely hypothetically) if PTM or Fata reforms in Pakistan are not been properly educated or shared with the public, it may lead to wrong assumptions about their true intent.
The third lesson revolves around the art of negotiations and using zero-sum from an advantageous position. When UK was negotiating with the EU, the way the negotiations were conducted offers invaluable lessons for us for what not to do. The fourth lesson is regarding how to deal with neighbouring regional players as UK handled its EU partners. This is an important lesson for ensuring that our international agreements, bilateral treaties need careful thinking, planning. Also how to negotiate any economic futuristic planning must be done with an exit strategy in mind; hint CPEC.
The fifth lesson revolves around dealing with “dominion”; Ireland border issue or respecting the opinions, concerns of provinces in a federation as depicted in our case. Example is that of Balochistan. Sixth, lesson is that if another country is involved it can make thing messy for reasons best known to the country involving itself; USA is backing Ireland for ensuring that the “good Friday” agreement is held to word and spirit this has complicated issues for the UK and Brexit. Pakistan should learn from it and that too fast.
Recommendations and opportunities:
1) Pakistan now needs to enter into an advantageous trade position with the UK. Once out of EU, UK will search and look for trade partners. Pakistan must seek learning opportunities in areas where it has unique advantage for instance in areas of Information technology, outsourcing, service sector and food, agriculture sectors. Let us take food and agriculture product sector, once out of the EU, if Pakistan can improve its supply chains, UK market can offer attractive returns.
2) Pakistan must focus on areas such as bilateral treaties, capacity for undertaking mega projects like CPEC, strengthening it supply chains, and also examining its core strengths in terms of capability and shortcomings. It must equip its manpower with tools, skills and education. The right combination if done rightly can bring dividends many times of the investments, only if done rightly.
3) Pakistan must also seek UK involvement into some of its sectors where UK can offer expertise. UK companies would now venture out of the EU and Pakistan’s geo-logistics position her future plans in CPEC and competitive advantage, regional access to Afghanistan, central Asia are attractive offerings.
4) UK will seek political and international clout elsewhere or out of the EU now. Pakistan must strategically engage with the UK on political, and international front, partnering if possible with UK on diplomatic fronts. UK more than ever will need to replace “old friends” with some old colonial friends.
5) Pakistan must seek more cooperation in areas such as defense, research, bio technology, IT and education. Once out of the EU, the trade with the EU and investments in many areas may decline. UK will seek its replacement. Pakistan should invest many matters, strategically.
The strategic challenge: One of the key challenges would be to aligning Pakistan with the changing EU, US policies and ever changing political landscape. Pakistan must also plan, weigh matters with long term vision. Pakistan therefore needs to raise a new breed of educated, nationalistic learned visionary political leaders who can handle some of the challenges mentioned above. The public also needs to be educated about understanding national interests and making “correct” choices.