A successful foreign policy refers to the exercise of a spirit of idealism to keep the events under control. The lack of a global hegemonic authority often leads to many unanticipated changes in international relations. To meet such variants a state always keeps flexibility in foreign policy directives. Contemporary history tells us how nations survive in exigent situations by taking daring decisions. They took timely decisions to tackle challenges that not only dealt with the dangers posed for their existence, but also set examples for thriving nations. Although these decisions were not easy for nations, sometimes cost too much, yet they laid down the path for their grandeur in the history of mankind. Modern history glorifies that Winston Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter at the cost of disbanding colonialism. Charles De Gaulle gave Algeria independence, reducing France’s status from world power to regional power in order to strengthen its socio-economic gash. The United States also had to depart from the Monroe Doctrine for over a century because of coercion in the pacific theatre and jumped into World War II.
The exercise continued in the post Cold War era as India and China revisited their decades long firm commitments to the socialist economic systems. The Pakistani leadership that surfaced after the assassination of the country’s first prime minister and defense minister Liaquat Ali Khan had to prefer valediction to neutrality in foreign and strategic diplomacy against latent Indian aggression and expansion of Soviet influence. Thanks to the Korean War, the United States desperately needed to contain soviet influence in Asia. The experienced civil and military bureaucracy of a newborn Pakistan was adapted to the American requirements due to its western administrative structure and spirit. Thus under the new doctrine envisaged by the defense minister and then Commander-in-Chief General Ayub Khan, Pakistan was determined to turn out to be part of the great game and entered the US bloc as a regional military force. Apart from the SEATO, the CENTO and the RCD, bilateral agreements with the United States made Pakistan a strong pro-US military force in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
The implications of this policy were undoubtedly also seen internally, with the defense line leading to institutional, financial and foreign affairs. In its true sense, this doctrine resulted in weakening the augmentation of democratic norms. However, in the Soviet-Afghan war, the same military force played a key role in craft approving outcomes for the country.
Being a close ally of the United States and western powers, the legacies of the Ayub Doctrine earned particular conciliation on globally repulsive elements such as the nuclear program and the promotion of Taliban.
The present global and regional conditions, however, are indicative of a change in the Ayub Doctrine.
We are all witnessing this turning point in history that US strategic interests in South Asia have shrunk since the demise of the Soviet Union. Despite US presence in Afghanistan, a meticulous view of Pak-US relations in last two decades clearly projects that in the new arena of geo-strategic arrangement in Asia which is predominantly focused on Russo-Chinese alliance, Washington frames India as an Indo-Pacific power.
Regrettably, Pakistan is categorised as an influential power for Afghanistan referring it to AfPak in this new design. Declining from aid programs, the Trump administration is even emphatically directing Pakistan to situate new regional priorities. In the prolongation of this indifference, Pakistan fails to defy the Indian step to quash autonomous status of Kashmir at the diplomatic level and yet no country or organization has assured to take tangible action against India. The Taliban, on the other hand, are worn out of the long war and are now persuasive to abolish militancy and to become part of the Afghan political process. In such circumstances there are limited but fragile options available to Islamabad. Globally, the sprouting trend of populist politics is increasingly affecting international relations. Each country, including world powers, is restricting its foreign policy to locality rather than internationalism. The luxuries earned due to internationalism can now come into question at any time.
To be considered three times in the grey list of FATF shows an indicator of this prospect. Thus, it seems that perhaps this is the time when Pakistan should alter the Ayub Doctrine with radical changes in its geostrategic and foreign policies. The present era is undoubtedly the era of modern economic system combined with technological skills, which makes it the most powerful tool of the century. So why not replace a doctrine of regional military superiority with a regional economic superiority? CPEC is endowed with great support for the establishment of regional economic superiority. Pakistan can be a bridge between Central Asia’s energy reserves and India’s growing energy needs. For the sake of success of CPEC, a linkage among resources of regions is unavoidable.
Pakistan alone will not be able to bear this burden by simply giving way to China.
Therefore, it is my own opinion that if Pakistan aims to unite the two regions by keeping its economic significance positive, its consequences will be encouraging. Otherwise, if CPEC was given importance only from the point of view of defense, then it is not certain that, due to diplomatic isolation, its end would be similar to the RCD road. People expect that by taking timely decision, our policy makers will get rid of the Ayub Doctrine by making the modern economic model a top priority in the country’s domestic and foreign policy.
The writer is student of international relations at the University of Karachi and is currently working as Inspector at Federal Intelligence Bureau (Pakistan).