Pakistan’s unhealthy focus on US, UK, India

Published: June 18, 2010

Hussain Haqqani is one of the few ambassadors that Pakistani media finds relevant.

Pop quiz: do you know Pakistan’s Ambassador to Chile, Malaysia, Venezuela, Brazil, or Russia?

It is very likely that you don’t and, there is a reason – these countries don’t get adequate visibility in Pakistan.

Hussain Haqqani (USA), Wajid Shamsul Hassan (UK) and, Shahid Malik (India) are the few ambassadors that Pakistani media finds relevant, relegating all others to secondary and tertiary positions.

Every country has their list of top 10, top 25, top 50, and “rest of the world” often referred to in international parlance as “ROW” but Pakistan’s foreign policy lacks depth and width.

At the United Nations in New York, a venue that provides effective medium to socialize ideas of national interest, Pakistan has no traction in South-South diplomacy. And, the reason is rather simple; our foreign policy is so focused on the US, and India that Pakistani diplomats at the UN have no clear directives from Islamabad.

One can argue that maintaining friendship with the US and keeping an eye on the threat from India consumes so much energy and resources that we are unable to adequately interact with rest of the world. But, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that diversity in ‘diplomatic contacts’ will yield multi-faceted benefits for our country.

Unlike our engagements with the US, diplomacy with fellow developing countries are premised on the principle of voluntary partnerships – free from conditionality’s typical of neo-colonial interactions.

Would it benefit Pakistan to build a relationship of trust with Venezuela? Caracas can play strategic role in improving Pakistan’s position among developing nations – and provide Pakistani entrepreneur another destination to export. Google “Pakistan ambassador to Venezuela” and you will be disappointed with the result.

The cynics among us will proclaim: we can’t afford to build stronger ties with Venezuela without ruffling feathers in Washington and that is why we don’t do much with Caracas. But Chile is a trusted American ally.

And we have established a mission in Chile – a state that shares several similarities with Pakistan. Chile is often described as an American proxy state, had been under military rule for a major part of it’s post colonial history, and a country where a powerful intelligence agency had become the state within state. Sounds familiar?

Pakistani Ambassador to Chile Burhanul Islam seems to be gaining some ground with local political and business elite. Ambassador Islam says that Pakistan opened Embassy in Chile to establish multidimensional cooperation with particular focus on politics, economy, commerce, culture, defense and education. But these areas of focus were overshadowed when a Pakistani man with alleged terror ties was briefly held in Santiago. It was the first time you may have heard of Ambassador Islam or that we have a presence in Chile.

Why was Saif-ur-Rehman held – only time will tell but we know the evidence against him are so flimsy that the local judge finds it impossible to hold him behind bars.

It is easy to digress in conspiracy theory: Pakistan had started to make progress with Chilean elite and Americans felt it had to be contained. Or the American version of conspiracy theory: Pakistanis have established Chancery in Santiago to facilitate terror activities and export fanaticism to America via South America. Neither of these assumptions can be verified. And, let’s leave it at that.

Saif-Ur-Rehman’s arrest was not the only story about Chile-Pakistan relations lately: The provincial government of Balochistan has decided to terminate a multi-billion-dollar agreement with a Canadian-Chilean joint venture company to develop a copper and gold mine at Reko Dik. (This is a separate story which I plan to follow shortly).

In Brazil, an emerging power that should be our top priority, we have an embassy but no ambassador. First Secretary Ali Haider Altaf holds fort at the capital. Financial and cultural hubs of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro are represented by honorary personal.

Google “Brazil” and look this country’s key performance indicators and tell me if you would want your top guy or gal to represent you in this rapidly emerging power. I bet you would. But, those who formulate our foreign policy in Islamabad don’t think so.

Take for example, Colombia – another important nation that we can easily call our friend – and we are represented by a Honorary Investment Counselor in it’s capital Bogota.

Going back to the pop quiz above – we do have embassies in Malaysia and Russia but chances are you have not heard names of these ambassadors. And, that is because these missions receive no visibility in Pakistani media – and old proverb “out of sight out of mind” is apropos.

Over the past 30 years, there has been an upsurge in South-South cooperation – ties that go far beyond trade and investments: education, science, agriculture, medicine, health services and information technologies.

I believe that this decade has been a truly transformational one in the South-South relationship. Many milestones have been met. Interactions between developing nations have yielded rich dividends in terms of cooperation between countries in many areas, underscoring the vitality and the relevance of strategic partnership.

The transformation in South-South relationship have taken place against the backdrop of developing nations’ initiatives to reform their economy and the geopolitical changes in the post-Cold War world.

To my mind, there are three main drivers that have led to this transformation.

First are shared values of democracy, pluralism, and tolerance and respect for fundamental freedom, which provides the underpinning of a durable relationship.

Second, there is the reality of growing economic linkages and people-to- people contact. Over the last two decades, businesses have formed strong and mutually beneficial partnerships; cooperation touching the lives of ordinary people about the power to connect and reaching out to the common denominator.

And, third, there is an increasing convergence of interests on major global issues. The imperatives of a multi-polar and interconnected world today set the stage for developing nations to work together to address global challenges whether it be the rising threat of terrorism and extremism or ensuring a balanced, equitable, and sustainable development for all — energy security and food security for the world at large.

Diplomacy plays a critical role in statecraft and foreign policy and Pakistan needs to start making it a priority. If you attend international ceremonies and festivities in Islamabad or Washington DC, you will often find that diplomats are called “bridge” between nations. There is more to that: diplomatic representatives abroad are the eyes, ears, and the mouth of the foreign office back home. If foreign policy is devised appropriately, diplomatic representatives in the field can fulfill their symbolic, legal and political roles. But effective execution by the foot soldiers is only possible when the visionaries at the head office are doing their job well.

Islamabad appears to be so focused on maintaining friendship with Washington and keeping an eye on Delhi that it has no time for rest of the world.

Ibrahim Sajid Malick

Ibrahim Sajid Malick

A Pakistani-American writer, technologist, and social entrepreneur. Malick graduated from New School for Social Research with a masters degree in anthropology. He holds several technology and management certifications.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Syed Nadir El-Edroos

    Hear! Hear!Recommend

  • Naila Khursheed

    Very informative article. It is worthy of DAWN’s opinion page.Recommend

  • Mina

    This very well written piece reminds me of the trend of ‘Model united Nations (MUN)’ Pakistani institutes have recently developed.It is indeed very disappointing to have a reality check on the status of ambassadors of Pakistan.Having attended a bunch loads of such MUNs, it now only seems a mere waste of energy and resources to having assumed the role of an ambassador at any MUN committee and being able to represent various countries, only in the hope of growing up to be a real one! All such events do train us to be good diplomats, skillful at writing resolutions and draft directives but what for?
    Now it makes me wonder if this MUN stunt is also just another social networking activity like Ambassador-ship of Pakistan?Recommend

  • bilal

    I did not know why a Pakistani was arrested in Chile. Now it makes sense to me. Americans must be getting suspicious of Pakistan-Chile growing friendship. Poor guy got in the middle.Recommend

  • Murtaza Ahmad

    Ibrahim Sahab,
    We should establish relations with Venezuala and Cuba. We should invite Chavez to Pakistan and ask him for same kind of support he gave to Iran. We should also send Ambassador to Brazil. This is very important for us to diversify.Recommend

  • Fareed Khan

    This is a great article. I don’t understand what was Saifur rehman doing in Chile. We need to stop these army types run our foreign policy.Recommend

  • Arsalaan Haleem

    Definitely a very worthy and interesting, not to mention, an informative article. I would suggest that you should send it to Dawn for reprinting.Recommend

  • Jaffar

    Author of this article has pipe dream which is impossible for developing nations to follow. US is our most important partner in this unipolar world. If it was not for the US, India would have completely destroyed us by now.

    FAREED KHAN: you have no idea what you are saying “we need to stop these army types run our foreign policy.” Pakistan army protects our border and foreign policy is part of that duty. If we leave it to corrup civilians they will sell our country to Nigeria or anybody else who is the highest bidder. Is that what you want?Recommend

  • Fareed Khan


    Pakistan army should only protect our borders. They should stay at the perimeters and keep us safe. They have no role in foreign policy formulation. Let MOFA do it’s job.

    Army generals have compromised our interest lot more than civilians have at any time.

    Remember what Gen. Ayub did to Pakistan?

    Oh ya– that Gen. Yahya .. don’t forget him.

    Gen. Zia created the mess we are still in.

    Gen. Musharaff sold our people to Americans.

    Jaffar sb Pakistani awam will is ready to swap corrupt military junta for civilian rule. We need alternative like Imran Khan.Recommend

  • Babar Awan

    Very good suggestions by the writer. He is saying we should find more friends and not rely on just one or two. this makes sense to me.Recommend

  • Liaqat Ali

    Thanks for exposing American conspiracy in Chile. I hope you will write more and explain why an innocent Pakistani man who was studying in Chile was arrested. From reading your article it seems you know some inside story. please tellRecommend

  • Fareed Khan

    I agree with Liaqat Ali. I want to get to the bottom of why Saifur Rehman was arrested. Please write if you more information.Recommend

  • Shohaib

    Why we are wasting time behind India ? India wont destroy and it has no time for it.
    It is growing and getting support from all companies and we are crying for them.
    US is just using us and when his purpose will be solved it will quit us like it quits laden.Recommend

  • Meena

    What is referred to as “south-south” ? we are in east and if we make relations with south american countries isn’t it “south-east”?Recommend

  • Deepak

    The relation between Brazil and Pakistan is friendly and there is a lot of cooperation between in the two countries in military field. In 2008 Brazil, approved the selling of 100 missiles to Pakistan despite India’s pressure to Brazil. Brazil Defense Minister Nelson Jobim called these missiles “very effective ways to monitor” areas flown by war planes, and said the deal with Pakistan was worth €85 million ($167.6 million). He dismissed suggestions that the transaction might be questioned in light of Islamist extremist massacre who perpetrated in Mumbai, India, which some Indian officials suspected was launched from within Pakistan. “Brazil negotiates with Pakistan, not with Pakistani terrorists,” Mr Jobim said. “To cancel this deal would be to attribute terrorist activities to the Pakistani Government.”Recommend

  • Rohal

    Sounds good.Let’s see what going on!!!!!Recommend

  • Mansoor

    Meena, South-South Cooperation is a term historically used by policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries, also known as countries of the global South.

    The North-South Divide (or Rich-Poor Divide) is a socio-economic and political division that exists between the wealthy developed countries, known collectively as “the North”, and the poorer developing countries (least developed countries), or “the South.”

    Although most nations comprising the “North” are in fact located in the Northern Hemisphere (with the notable exceptions of Australia and New Zealand), the divide is not wholly defined by geography. The North is home to four out of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and all members of the G8. “The North” mostly covers the West and the First World, with much of the Second World. The expression “North-South divide” is still in common use, but the terms “North” and “South” are already somewhat outdated. As nations become economically developed, they may become part of the “North”, regardless of geographical location, while any other nations which do not qualify for “developed” status are in effect deemed to be part of the “South.”Recommend

  • Faheem Zaman

    Pakistan’s foreign policy has been marked by a complex balancing process–the result of its history, religious heritage, and geographic position. The primary objective of that policy has been to preserve Pakistan’s territorial integrity and security, which have been in jeopardy since the state’s inception. That is why why Pakistan army plays the leading role.Recommend

  • Rashmi

    Pakistan is fixated on India because it has nothing to show for progress. We both achieved independence together. Look at where is India and where is Pakistan.Recommend

  • Jyoti

    thsi one “The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had a profound effect on Pakistan’s geopolitical situation. Pakistan became a frontline state in the Cold War. Altogether more than 3 million Afghan refugees fled to Pakistan, and the country became a base for mujahidin fighting against the Soviet forces and the Afghan communists. Pakistan also became a conduit for military assistance by the United States and others to themujahidin.”Recommend

  • Faheem Zaman

    I agree that India has progressed in some areas more than Pakistan. But, your country is plagued with poverty and caste system. I am glad that we have a state where Muslims can progress and grow unlike India where Muslim minority lives in very sad situation.Recommend

  • Lijarani Swain

    India’s present Pakistan policy is strategically disastrous becuase:
    India’s Pakistan Policy politically and strategically reduces India to the deplorable level of Pakistan and as a co equal. Such Indian policy enables countries like USA and China to be meddlesome in South Asia at Indian expense and their propensity not to accord India the strategic respect which is its due arising from its power potential and geo-strategic predominance in the Indian Subcontinent.

    Indian Prime Minister flip-flops and resiling from its stated stands at every meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister emboldens the Pakistan Army in the continuance of its disruptive strategies against India.

    The Prime Minister and the policy establishment do not need reminders that after Havana and Sharm-al-Sheikh Indian climb-downs there was no cessation of terrorist attacks against India or decrease in tension on the LOC in Kashmir. Within hours of Thimphu meeting the Pakistan Army was at its old games of firing incidents in J&K to escalate tension on the borders.

    No amount of assurances by Pakistan Presidents and Prime Minister and their pledges to remove “trust deficit” can sway the Pakistan Army from its compulsive hostility against India.Recommend

  • Malik Rashid

    A timely article. US plans to object to Pak-China nuclear reactor deal at the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the 46 nation body could play a role on supply of reactors to Pakistan. PM Gilani’s recent visit to a EU meeting exposed the lack of focus of Pakistan’s foreign policy this article talks about. Looking forward to the scoop on Canadian-Chile-Baluchistan copper deal. Thanks.Recommend

  • Rashmi

    Pakistan has no face to talk about minorities. look what u guys have done to Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians in your country.
    India is home to several eminent Muslims who have made their mark in several fields and have played a constructive role in India’s economic rise and cultural influence across the world. Since India gained independence in 1947, three Muslims have been appointed the President of India: Dr. Zakir Hussain, Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Mohammad Hidayatullah, A. M. Ahmadi and Mirza Hameedullah Beg held the office of the Chief Justice of India on various occasions since independence. The current Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Abid Hussain and Asaf Ali were prominent diplomats representing India abroad. Throughout independent India’s history, Muslims have played an influential role in IndianRecommend

  • Numair

    I am amazed at some people who have a very high opinion of Dawn newspaper. Dawn has covered innocent saif’s story in a very negative way. Its about time we value other media channels who have some credibility.

    To learn more about what really happened to Saif ur Rehman, visit the blog created by his family and friends.

  • Mansoor

    These is no reason to compare India and Pakistan. This article actually advocates that Pakistan should not be “fixated” on India and look beyond. Let’s not make this about Indo-Pak controversy.Recommend

  • Ali

    US Ambassador Haqani in US. :)Recommend

  • Saif ur rehaman


    My name is M.Saif-ur-rehman Khan who was arrested in Chile. Many people asked why was i in Chile and why did i got arrested. If you really want to go to the bottom of the story, please visit my blog made by my supporters
    I do not want to comment on the article but do want you all to read and understand about me and my case. I hope i will get all the support from my nation.Recommend

  • Bilal Ahmed

    Pakistan’s Diplomatic Shadows turning grim and gray. Country’s diplomatic doctrine is the area which should have turned the tides of our foreign policy and relationships with the countries around the globe.
    Unfortunately, Pakistan’s image of being a front line state in war against terror or an alley of US/NATO forces could hardly buy any benefits to the people of Pakistan. The same reversing row continued against Pakistan’s global image.
    The reasons of Pakistan’s diplomatic failures in the recent times is that Pakistan has ‘NO’ foreign policy. The embassies of Pakistan around the world are only operating on fire fighting modes. Since, Pakistan faces most of the heat from US, UK and India, therefore would see these Embassy’s in action only when the fire is on.
    This means we as country are making no efforts to go forward in the diplomatic age; instead our stance is pushing us back. Therefore, the recent incidents left Pakistani community around the world shamed and stranded. This is the product of having NO Foreign policy or no counter policy.
    Pakistan’s diplomatic sensitivity is rising day by day. Pressurizing the government of Pakistan requires no lofty planes or 0 error executions of plots. The global scenario where US forces have to leave Afghanistan and China is becoming another Super Power. Where India is on throttle for reserving its economic share of the world, this has become inevitable for us to make aggressive counter foreign policy against the forces that are pushing us back followed by a comprehensive long terms policy to engage other major players of the world.Recommend

  • Ibrahim Sajid Malick
  • Liaqat Ali

    Numair and Saif,

    Pakistani media has no spine. There is no honesty in coverage. No one has covered this story and we are still puzzled what happened to you and so many other Pakistanis.

    Ibrahim Sahab,
    Please write in detail about this case.

    Thank you,Recommend

  • Madiha Jawaid

    This is the most meaningfull discussion on this blog. This topic is very relevant and it should be part of our foreign policy and domestic conversation.

    Discussion about Saif ur Rehman is also very important but it should not overshadow South-South policy discussion.Recommend

  • RealThinker

    You guys need to understand the ground realities. We need America and America needs us. If we have American support all other supports comes on its own. We have no need to make friends with Venezuella’s communist leader Chavez or Cuba. This will destroy our progress and industry.Recommend

  • Niaz Baloch

    Mr. Saif Ur Rehman,

    What were you doing in America? Nobody leaves America to go to Chile. You must be first Pakistani to do that. Please explain why you couldn’t learn Spanish in America? I have learned Spanish and French living in Virginia.

    What were you doing with the Egyptian guy in Chile? Why do you have close contact with a suspicious Pakistani embassy employee? Isn’t i true that you have been working for Pakistan intelligence agency (I don’t want to name it). Isn’t it true that you were on a recon mission. What has been your dealing with Balochistan?

    Ibrahim Sajid Malick,

    There is no conspiracy theory. Your claim is completely bogus that “Pakistan had started to make progress with Chilean elite and Americans felt it had to be contained.”

    America wants Pakistan deal with Chile. You should Ambassador Anne Paterson’s statement about it. America wants Pakistan to establish trade relations with Chile. Please stop spreading lies.

    Do you know that Pakistani Ambassador to Chile used to live in the US. He was First Counselor in New York after 9/11. He also worked under Ambassador Munir Akram at the UN. When he was in the US he was also monitored here for suspicios activities. So please do some research about topic before writing so much.Recommend

  • Pulsar

    I completely agree with the author, Pakistan have no foreign policy to begin with. It is the adhocism which is the driving force behing our policies as a result there are no long term objective on our minds. Consecutive Pakistani governments have ignored the issue of developing deep diplomatic and cultural ties with nations other then China, US, UK (few European countries), especially the South American Countries.
    Iran is a good example how a strong diplomatic presence can actually be used to fulfill your goals. The recent BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) Summit held in Brazil is a clear indicator of the global shifts and Pakistan should take note. Further more the recently passed sanctions on Iran have to be watered down by US on insistence of China and Russia which have been successfully brought into the Iranian camp through diplomacy. Brazil and Turkey are the two countries which have openly stated that the Iran issue should be resolved through talks.
    Brazil is a country from which Pakistan can learn a lot of lesson and the government should prioritize developing ties with South American countries. But unfortunately the elite who run this country can not look beyond US-UK so we are pretty much stuck. Brazil have Lulla and we have Zardari, say no more.Recommend

  • Faheem Zaman

    I like how is blog is progressing – almost morphing into a blog on Sair ur Rehman. This is the first place where this issue is being debated so openly.Recommend

  • Mussarat

    I agree with Niaz Baloch. What was Saif charecter doing in Chile? I don’t believe that people like Aafia Siddiqui and Saif Rehman are completely innocent. I travel to States and no one has ever arrested me. Why? Instead of spreading propoganda against America writer should realize that Americans are the only friends we have and the only friends we need.Recommend

  • Amigos

    @ Mussarat So a Pakistani can go to England, US, France, Germany, South Africa or any part of the world and not Chile? For your info there are already hundreds of settled Pakistanis in Chile.

    Why would you say that?? He was in Chile legally. He does not need permission from you to go there! Catalina Alliende in the Chilean embassy in Islamabad not only recommended that Saif learn Spanish and gain hotel experience in Chile but also gave Saif the visa for Chile.

    I can also say that you are not innocent for speaking against an innocent Pakistani without proof and knowledge.Recommend

  • Ibrahim Sajid Malick

    Niaz Baloch Sahab,

    I am aware that Ambassador to Chile was in New York both at the Pakistan Consulate and at Pakistan’s Mission to the UN. I don’t know if he was under scrutiny – or if he was monitored anymore than other Pakistani diplomats. If you have additional information, please share with us.

    Mussarat – presumption of innocence is the fundamental right of every individual. If Saif is guilty – there should be adequate evidence to convict. If there are no evidence of his guilt, he has been wronged.



  • khan

    @mussarat i pray what happened with Saif-ur-Rehman also happen with you so that you can understand how the system works and then we can call you the agent of america.

    @niaz if you think this was a mission or he was an agent why was he called to the US embassy in the first place???this means that whoever called him to the embassy is also involved…all lameRecommend

  • hassan

    Either way you look at it, this conversation is very important.Recommend

  • Waheed

    This is a very good article. I am glad Ibrahim Sahab is writing for Express Tribune blog. He is a great journalist and always sides with the truth. He does not fear consquence.Recommend

  • Muhammad Amjad

    Indian Investment in Afghanistan
    For last two decades, if we see indian investment quickly increase in Afghanistan specially in south Afghanistan. Indian Govt. open a lot of consulates in Eastern Afghanistan cities for trade purposes. The world world knows very well that which type of trade are going on in Afghanistan. India during last two decades invests million of Dollars for different purposes. At this time all consulates are running under supervision of RAW (a indian secrete terrorist official agency),India set first example for moral world that the consulate and embassies are running under these kind of supervision.
    India with his allies Israel and (a well known country) provide logistic support to those terrorists involve indifferent type of activities in different areas of Pakistan.first they trained these peoples and then forward then inside Pakistan with weapons and financial support.
    India is involved in all type of insurgencies in Pakistan rather than Pakistan provide the number of proofs to United Nation and USA. But united Nation is like a rubber stamp and in hand of European countries and USA.
    America openly support openly ti india and Israel supported by USA for their terror activities in Muslim World on each activities against Muslim world. This not shocking for Muslim world if we see in History. History tell us many things and Examples.
    All world know very well who involve in Balochistan and Who want to destabilize the atomic Pakistan. They try to make many new rules and pass the resolutions for Muslim worlds especially for Pakistan. Before a few days ago or last month UNO pass a resolution related to Pakistan which was rejected by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and says in a function arranged in Pakistan, We know these kind of resolutions are for us but we reject these kind of instruction or resolutions.
    Regarding all these issues Chinese support continue as old friend of Pakistan.
    USA finalize Nuclear deal with india rather than US provide this kind of Nuclear energy to Pakistan and Oblige the support of Pakistan for U.S to kill the Terrorism from World. Due to Pakistan Support now USA and Europe are much secure than old Position. But America support India against Pakistan related each issue.
    But very soon China come forward and finalized Nuclear deal with Pakistan .
    M. Amjad
    Software EngineerRecommend

  • Pervez

    That picture above is very telling. Hussain Haqqani represents USA NOT Pakistan.

    RealThinker, Niaz Baloch and Mussarat. You guys sound like American puppets.Recommend

  • zubair

    While many nations’ bilateral relationship with the U.S. resembles a sine curve with periodic highs andlows, Pakistan has experienced the most extreme periodic highs and lows. Historically, close ties were single issue engagements of limited or uncertain duration between the military or military dominated government of Pakistan and Washington policy largely in hands of the White House,the Pentagon and the CIA. The diplomacy between the U.S. and Pakistan is a case of coercive diplomacy.Recommend

  • Nawab Ali

    Modern communication media bring events around the world to our living rooms instantaneously
    as they occur. In a sense, this makes all of us eyewitnesses to natural disasters, deadly diseases,
    wars and other challenges facing humanity on a daily basis.

    Deserving special recognition are those in the mass media community who are leading the way in highlighting solutions to help free all human beings
    from conditions of extreme poverty and related deprivations.

    The issues long neglected by the mainstream media — such as hunger,poverty alleviation, population, children, HIV/AIDS, gender empowerment and the environment — are issues that are of major concern mostly to developing nations, comprising over two-thirds of the 192 members of the U.N.

    It is heartening to see an article propagating South-South engagement. But how often do you this type of writings in Pakistan’s mainstream media?

    Does “diplomacy between developing nations” considered ‘un-sexy’ by some in the mainstream media — help sell newspapers? If not, how can shortcomings in South-South coverage be rectified?Recommend

  • Zia

    Excellent article! Great comments…Recommend

  • Siddiqui

    Ibrahim. Kudos for writing such an informative and timely piece.Recommend

  • Mussarat

    If Saif ur Rehman is innocent he should respond to simple questions asked above by Niaz Baloch:

    “What were you doing in America? Nobody leaves America to go to Chile. You must be first Pakistani to do that. Please explain why you couldn’t learn Spanish in America? I have learned Spanish and French living in Virginia.

    What were you doing with the Egyptian guy in Chile? Why do you have close contact with a suspicious Pakistani embassy employee? Isn’t i true that you have been working for Pakistan intelligence agency (I don’t want to name it). Isn’t it true that you were on a recon mission. What has been your dealing with Balochistan?”

    There are many more questions about his activities in Santiagi and I predict he will take a plea bargain or loose his case.Recommend

  • Mussarat

    @khan you say above “i pray what happened with Saif-ur-Rehman also happen with you so that you can understand how the system works and then we can call you the agent of america.”

    You can pray all you want and I am not afraid of America because I have not done anything. You can call me agent of america because it is fashionable in Pakistan to do that. But the fact remains that Saif was involved in something terrible.Recommend

  • Nighat Khan

    Mussrat, How can you say such horrible things. Have you thought about the feeling of his poor parents? Beside as Mr. Malick points out in the article “the evidence against him are so flimsy that the local judge finds it impossible to hold him behind bars.” When a judge cannot convict him why are you condemning him? Recommend

  • MA Murad

    This article is worthy of serious dialogue by Pakistani scholars of international relations. They should study why Pakistan has failed to develop relations with other developing countries. Please do not distract this debate to some tangent issue of an individual Pakistani. South-South dialogue is extremely important for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Niaz Baloch

    Chilean officials believe they have a criminal case against Said ur Rehman who was arrested in the U.S. Embassy with traces of explosive on him.

    Chilean Police found traces of the explosive Tetryl on Saif’s documents and mobile telephone. Tetryl is a compound used as a booster to help detonate explosive charges.

    Chief state prosecutor Sabas Chahuan said he saw a solid case, but did not say what type of crime he believed had been committed. Chahuan said he had information that he was unable to disclose.

    “I think that a crime has been committed here. There are several lines of investigation, and there will be a concrete outcome,” Chahuan told reporters. “There are things I cannot say because it would interfere with the investigation.”

    “He does not have any prior criminal record in Chile, and benefits from presumption of innocence, but the prosecutor’s office thinks that he has a degree of responsibility.”

    A senior State Department official has said that Said, a Pakistani intelligence operative who had been in Chile for four months, was invited to the embassy so officials could notify him that his visa for the United States was being revoked.

    I agree that he has the presumption of innocence but there is a solid case against him.Recommend

  • Deepak

    Pakistan should participate in IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) forum. It will be beneficial for Pakistan’s progress.Recommend

  • John

    This is a sad commentary on Pakistan-US relations. It is sad that Pakistan has look at other developing nations for help.
    Pakistan is an important ally but in order to make Pakistan-US diplomacy more meaningful , we suggest the US follows these recommendations:

    Clarify the priority the United States puts on the long-term challenge for the government and the people of Pakistan, namely a capable and responsive state and a prosperous and just society—rather than on the short-term U.S. objective of winning hearts and minds.

    Why? There is little evidence in the development literature that aid programs in difficult settings like Pakistan change public opinion or provide security and stability immediately, or even quickly. Absent clarity about the United States’ long-term objective, on which U.S. and Pakistani objectives clearly coincide, U.S. assistance could actually worsen public opinion toward the United States—if Pakistanis perceive aid as a means to bully or bribe their own government or as contributing to shoring up illegitimate political or other elites.

    A long-term vision justifies the emphasis Obama administration has placed on building local capacity and wherever possible working with and through the public sector, and on investments that have a lasting impact beyond short-term fixes. We urge that the long-term primarily development objective behind this approach be made as clear as possible to both American and Pakistani citizens and lawmakers.
    Emphasize transparency of the U.S. program, including by sharing more complete and timely information about program plans, commitments and actual disbursements than we have seen up to now.

    Define with the Government of Pakistan a limited set of key development indicators for the next five years and hoped-for annual progress against them.

    Output indicators of Pakistan’s development program might include tube wells restored or brown-outs reduced and increases in tax revenues. Outcome indicators might include jobs created or saved, children vaccinated, and girls entering secondary school. The indicators should be measurable and verifiable and progress against them made fully to Pakistani civil society groups, to the U.S. public and lawmakers, and to other major donors in Pakistan. Agreed indicators could be revised annually and would help motivate a strong emphasis on innovation, evaluation and learning on the part of the government, in turn contributing to the dialogue with the government on adjustments in U.S.-funded programs.Recommend

  • RealThinker


    Pakistan should create Brazil-Turkey-Pakistan-South Africa Forum. We don’t need to follow India. We can do it on our own. Thank you!Recommend

  • Siddiqui

    what you have recommend are measures that your country can take to monitor progress. We are trying to figure out how to monitor American comitment and make sure that we can survive after your country exits this region.Recommend

  • John

    Yes, relationship should always be symmetrical. You should figure out ways to ensure that Americans deliver on promises. But our diplomatic ties goes back 64 years. No need to ditch it now. But, in reality Pakistan needs America lot more that we would ever need Pakistan.
    Don’t you think?Recommend

  • Amigos

    @ Niaz Baloch Like you copied and pasted in your post, a solid case.. yeah right. You said it yourself, traces of tetryl chemical on his documents and cell phone, but NO traces on his hands and skin. So did the chemical substance fly and got on to the cell phone and documents. This is the joke of the century!Recommend

  • Niaz Baloch

    Here is copy and paste from my comment above. Why don’t you (or Saif) respond to these questions?

    What were you doing in America? Nobody leaves America to go to Chile. You must be first Pakistani to do that. Please explain why you couldn’t learn Spanish in America? I have learned Spanish and French living in Virginia.

    What were you doing with the Egyptian guy in Chile? Why do you have close contact with a suspicious Pakistani embassy employee? Isn’t i true that you have been working for intelligence agency?Recommend

  • Mussarat

    @Nighat Khan
    Please do some research. Saif Ur Rehman is not free. His bail was annulled. See below from

    Who is pretending to be Saif above in comments? I can’t believe that he will have access to internet in prison.


    Court Annuls Bail for Pakistani Nabbed in Chile

    SANTIAGO – The Santiago Court of Appeals annulled the possibility of Pakistani Mohammed Saif Ur Rehman Khan remaining out on bail while charged with illegal possession of explosives, traces of which were found on him in the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, and ordered him remanded in custody, judicial sources said.

    The Pakistani, a 28-year-old student of hotel management, had been granted bail last weekend by a Santiago court, which nonetheless charged him with the illegal possession of explosives.

    The student, who repeatedly claimed his innocence, was ordered to sign in at the court every week and had a warrant that barred him from leaving Chile for the 120 days established for the investigation.

    The Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint against Mohammed Saif Ur Rehman being allowed out on bail and the court of appeals ruled Saturday that the evidence in the case shows that the Pakistani has established ties with people with an illegal store of explosives.

    After hearing the court’s decision, the Pakistani asked the government of his country for help and said once again that he is innocent.

    “I will fight to prove my innocence. I know those who are doing this and why they doing this to me and my family. I ask the Pakistani government, especially the Foreign Ministry, to get involved in my case,” he told reporters.

    Saturday’s ruling by a 2-1 majority also said that the reasons for the suspect’s stay in Chile are not clear.

    Consequently, Mohammed Saif Ur Rehman constitutes a danger to public safety, the verdict said, which obliges the defendant to remain in jail as long as the case is under investigation.

    Mohammed Saif Ur Rehman was arrested on May 10 at the U.S. Embassy in Chile after being detected with traces of a military explosive on his belongings. He had been asked to come to the embassy, he said, to correct an error of his name on his visa.

    Nicolas Calvo, a prosecutor in the case, said he agreed with the court’s decision because it meant that “public safety is guaranteed.”

    The Pakistani’s defense attorney, meanwhile, said he accepted the decision and added that the student will appear voluntarily in court this Saturday to comply with the decision.

    The Pakistani has said on several occasions that he is innocent, that he is not a terrorist and that he admires the United States, but has not explained the presence of explosive material on his belongings.

    “I’m worried about my family and I love them more than anything. I have faith in the Chilean judges and in their judicial system,” the student said, adding that “I’m sure we will win this case when truth triumphs over falsehood.”

    According to legal sources, if the defendant is found guilty, he faces spending three years and one day behind bars.Recommend

  • John

    In my earlier response I did not mean to imply that Pakistan should have ‘exclusive’ relations with United States. Just like we should not have to pick between India and Pakistan or India and China. But Pakistan should pick friends based on value. Venezuela and Cuba don’t share any value with Pakistan.Recommend

  • Niaz Baloch


    Please see another report that Mussarat has quoted above, “the Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint against Mohammed Saif Ur Rehman being allowed out on bail and the court of appeals ruled Saturday that the evidence in the case shows that the Pakistani has established ties with people with an illegal store of explosives.”

    Please answer those questions that I have posed above. Only good thing here is that even if Saif is convicted he will be out in 3 years. Hopefully he will prove his innocence. The only way to show innocence is by being transparent.Recommend

  • Siddiqui

    Pakistan has been very loyal to America throughout our history but America has not reciprocated. Problem is not getting aid or branding aid. Pakistan feels that this relation is based on adhocism without long term commitmentRecommend

  • Naheed Khan

    ISM- you are the best! I really enjoy reading your articles. I hope someone in Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take note of this as well and send an ambassador to Brazil.Recommend

  • Ahmed Khan

    I say we get rid of both the US and India..!!Recommend

  • Raza

    Actually our foreign policy has been only India centric. Our alliance with US was because India leaned towards Soviet Union. We became friends with China because of Sino-Indo conflict. Our involvement in Afghanistan is largely because of India. If we change our policies toward India, we will be able to bring in a new era of foreign policy.Recommend

  • Rohit Sharma

    Well I come to read these blogs on India articles on Pakistani websites to have fun after class and it is really interesting how the mindset of pakistani citizens is taking them to a totally wrong direction. The Indian businesses are doing the right thing by focusing on other SAARC nations as there is little chance of improvement in Pakistani conditions in near future. There is a time lag of atleast 40 years in India and Pakistan. Good day people.Recommend

  • Abhigyan

    I spent last 15 minutes in reading the comments – this was after I read the article. The article definetly is very informative and it clearly brings out the fault in the Pakistan Foreign Policy.

    However what worried me more was the misconception in the mind of people about India. If we look at the past history there have been number of issues, wars and proxy wars between two countries. Though Pakistan as a country came into exisitence only in 1947, you and your culture is not that new. The culture was still there even when the idea of a seperate country for Muslims was not even born. Do realize that we – India and Pakistan has more in common than any other country in the world. I read someone’s comments about India undertaking development work in Afganistan and filtering RAW agents in Afganistan. This is not entirely true. India overtook this development work to bring peace in the region. Believe me, you just need to give us a shout and we will be there to help you as our brothers. I also read a comment about Muslims living in low conditions and Hindu caste system. While I do not deny that this is partially true, the fact is that Indian Govt. is trying to eradicate untouchability from Indian Society. We have specific laws against the practise of untouchability but since it is a socio-economic issue, eradication will take time. As the literacy level in India increases so will untouchability decrease. The second issue of Muslims living in low conditions is also true but it is true not only for Muslims but for all Indians. Muslims have same opportunity in India in all fields as any other person will have. Our schools do not differentiate between students based on religion. I studied with several Muslims friends and we are still in touch even though I left college some 10 years back. Our industries are equal opportunity industries and do not differentiate between caste or religion. For now I’ll conclude this post. Hope it clears some of the misconceptions.Recommend

  • Siddiqui

    @Rohit Sharma,
    thanks for commenting but your comment does not provide any argument to substantiate why we are 40 years behind India.Recommend

  • Nighat Khan

    I don’t want to make this into who is better India or Pakistan because this is a very serious dialogue. If I wanted to, I can give 1000s of reasons why India is not a just soceity for the way they treat Muslims and other minorities. I can tell you how caste system is such a retrogressive practice. But no, I will refrain from mud slinging.Recommend

  • RealThinker

    @Nighat Khan,
    I agree with you this is not Indo-Pak dialogue. Our foreign policy should be defined by what makes us a stronger, prosperous and forward looking nation.
    Indians have been trying to convince America to ditch us. But so far they have failed. I believe Pakistan should continue to be strong American ally and not get distracted by other developing nations. If you want to succeed – you must associate with successfull. Recommend

  • Ibrahim Sajid Malick

    Dear All,

    Thank you so very much for commenting – your participation is extremely valuable.

    1- Why don’t I submit this article to Dawn? I have tremendous amount of respect for Dawn. And, I feel Tribune is a good match that will elevate the standard of journalism in Pakistan. I am honored that this piece found home on this blog.

    2- Saif ur Rehman: It is a complex story and I am trying to get a couple of interviews lined-up. This is not a slam-dunk for either side. I promise to update once I have something meaningful to write about.

    3- India-Pakistan: I really liked how we stayed away from traditional bickering and stayed focus of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

    4- South-South diplomacy: I wasn’t sure this will be such a hit. I am so glad many of you agree that we need to diversify our diplomatic engagements. I will continue to explore this topic further.

    Thank you so very much!

    Ibrahim Sajid MalickRecommend

  • hassan

    This is one of the best article on Pakistan foreign policy published in a blog format. In my opinion Pakistan consider defining 15-20 players in differnt regions and start meaningful partnership;

    Beside all the regular ones that we have ties with (US, UK, China, Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern states) we should expand relations withs
    Brazil, South Africa, Venezuela, Cuba, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey etchRecommend

  • Omar Farooq

    You are very generous and kind. Even though Pakistanis on this site are constantly complaining about America, you are still talking about developing civil society in Pakistan.
    THANK YOU!Recommend

  • Tabinda

    ISM has hit the nail on it’s head. Brazil, buoyed up by strong economic indicators, besides its position as Latin America’s giant, has expanded its influence on the international scene.

    In South America, in particular, it has consolidated its leadership, fuelling the regional integration process by means of political, economic and infrastructure initiatives during Lula’s nearly seven years in office.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s three controversial visits to Brazil have further underscored the independence of Brazil’s diplomacy, and gave Tehran a chance to defend its points of view on the construction of a lasting peace in the Middle East.

    I wonder why Zardari is not going to Brazil or why aren’t we inviting Lula?Recommend

  • hassan

    South Africa is a key player in Africa and also has tremendous clout within the UN. We should try to increase the intensity of our relations for several reasons. Economy being the top reason. We can learn a lot from South Africa.

    Very simillar to Pakistan, South Africa also has a two-tiered economy; one rivaling other developed countries and the other with only the most basic infrastructure. It therefore is a productive and industrialized economy that exhibits many characteristics associated with developing countries, including a division of labor between formal and informal sectors, and uneven distribution of wealth and income. Unlike ours, South African formal sector, based on mining, manufacturing, services, and agriculture, is well developed.

    Annual GDP growth between 2004 and 2007 averaged 5.0%, but fell to a rate of 3.1% in 2008 because of higher interest rates, power shortages, and weakening commodities prices. GDP contracted by 1.8% in 2009 as South Africa experienced its first recession in 18 years. The government estimates that the economy must achieve growth at a minimum of 6% to offset unemployment, which was estimated at 24.3% in December 2009. The economy is expected to grow by 2.3% in 2010, as South Africa emerges from its recession.

    Increasing food and fuel prices pushed inflation above the upper end of the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB’s) 3%-6% inflation target range for the better part of 2007 and 2008; inflation averaged 11.3% in 2008. Inflation started to decline in 2009, averaging 7.2% for the year. The SARB’s most recent central inflation forecast projects that it will continue its downward trajectory and return to the 3%-6% target range in the second half of 2010. Inflation is expected to average 5.8% and 5.6% in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

    The transition to a democratic, nonracial government, begun in early 1990, stimulated a debate on the direction of economic policies to achieve sustained economic growth while at the same time redressing the socioeconomic disparities created by apartheid. The Government of National Unity’s initial blueprint to address this problem was the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP). The RDP was designed to create programs to improve the standard of living for the majority of the population by providing housing–a planned 1 million new homes in 5 years–basic services, education, and health care. While a specific “ministry” for the RDP no longer exists, a number of government ministries and offices are charged with supporting RDP programs and goals.

    South Africa has a sophisticated financial structure with a large and active stock exchange that ranks 17th in the world in terms of total market capitalization. The South African Reserve Bank performs all central banking functions. The SARB is independent and operates in much the same way as Western central banks, influencing interest rates and controlling liquidity through its interest rates on funds provided to private sector banks. Quantitative credit controls and administrative control of deposit and lending rates have largely disappeared. South African banks adhere to the Bank of International Standards core standards.

    We have a lot to learn from South Africa and we should not be shy.Recommend

  • Wajid Siddiqi

    Wow! very refreshing article. I am happy we still have Pakistanis who think straight.Recommend

  • RealThinker

    @Ibrahim Sajid Malick you write: “Saif ur Rehman: It is a complex story and I am trying to get a couple of interviews lined-up. This is not a slam-dunk for either side.”

    That is exactly my point. If Saif ur Rehman is innocent there will be no evidence against him and he will be out. If he was an operative than he will be trouble and rightly so.Recommend

  • Mussarat

    Where have the defenders of Saif ur Rehman disappear? Why can’t u guys respond to simple questions? How do you expect to believe that he is innocent?Recommend

  • Faiz

    Excellent piece! I didn’t know we have an embassy in Chile. What is the prospect of going to there for employment?Recommend

  • Danyal

    It should start by sending an ambassador. ISM points out in the article that we have low level team there now.

    ISM- you rock!Recommend

  • Masood

    I don’t see the point of this article. First of all headline is not correct: “Pakistan’s unhealthy focus on US, UK, India”

    But throughout the article it is mentioned only US and India. For example: “Islamabad appears to be so focused on maintaining friendship with Washington and keeping an eye on Delhi that it has no time for rest of the world.”

    So my question is why do u have”UK” in your headline?

    It is childish to think that India is not our main threat and US is not our main ally.Recommend

  • Ashiq Ali

    Thanks for expressing my feeling. Everyone else sounds like communist party member. Make friends with Cuba and Venezuela. Why? We have real threat from India and should be focus. Also, Kashmir issue and water issue are main reason to have our foreign policy in that direction.Recommend

  • Mussarat

    Calling all the supporters of Saif ur Rehman to speak up if they can. Otherwise I will assume you guys have no defenseRecommend

  • Niaz Baloch

    Looks like defenders of Saif ur Rehman have gone in hiding. Good for them because for how long can you continue to defend wrong policies and pathological lies.Recommend

  • Abid Ali

    I teach college level IR course and this article is going to be part of reading recommendation for my students next semester. I am really impressed with clarity of though.

    I agree with the headline comment – seems a bit dis-jointed. No big deal!Recommend

  • PakiDude

    Pakistan has no choice but to play good with UK and US. We have a history together. If we don’t India will chew us up in daylight. So get off your high horse and recognize the ground reality.

    BTW- USA just won against Algeria… makes me VERY HAPPYRecommend

  • Fatimah


    Either you are not a Pakistani or you don’t understand the connotation of “Paki” – it is a derogatory word, like “niger.” Your fear of India is unfounded and perpetrated by Pakistani army. Average Pakistani is not worried about India. They wonder how to put food on the table, how to pay rent and utilities.

    While poor keeps getting poorer, Pakistan army gets bigger and bigger budget.Recommend

  • Jaffar

    This blog and comments prove the point I made earlier (see my comment on top). Pakistani civilians can’t even talk straight about foreign policy. Leave this to highly educated and best trained professional of our army. Do you know that army cadets learn more about international relations than anyone of you who criticize them.Recommend

  • Bizenjo

    Pakistan army is taught rudimentary level courses. There education can be compared with any other BA candidate from Baluchistan University.

  • Haider

    Very interesting blog. I am glad that a Pakistani publication is debating value of South-South cooperation.

    The increasing relevance and importance of South-South cooperation has been stressed in major international events and fora such as the First South Summit which was held in Havana, Cuba, the International UN Conference on Financing for Development, the Conference on South-South Cooperation in Marrakech, Morocco and the UN General Assembly in its Resolution 55/2, among others.

    In recognition of the shift in perceptions about the emerging trends in South South Cooperation, many countries have embarked on a process to actively promote the streamlining of SSC.

    The shift in emphasis stems from the recognition that experiences and successes that many countries in the South have achieved in specific environment-related areas can provide valuable impetus, ideas and means for other countries in the South to address similar concerns and challenges.

    South-South Cooperation can increase the flow of information, resources, expertise and knowledge among developing countries at reduced costs.

    Technology transfer among developing countries as well as capacity building in environmentally sound use of technologies and sustainable use and management of natural resources are key for the development of the South.

    South-South Cooperation is now widely recognised as a key mechanism for the development agenda of countries of the South and enjoys broad-based support from both the donor community and developing countries.

    Kudos to Mr. Malick for starting such an important dialogue in Pakistan.Recommend

  • zubair

    Another master piece! ISM knows how to write and he writes on most relevant topics. keep it up boss!Recommend

  • Free Hussaini

    And these three countries don’t care much about Pakistan or, its ambassador.

    So, Pakistan can save a lot of money by shutting down all its diplomatic missions around the world.

    Vending machines can be installed to issue Pakistani passports and visa, if anybody wants them.Recommend

  • Firdoos

    I agree with Zubair. This is a very well written article on a topic that I wouldn’t usually read. Great work ISM!Recommend

  • Haider

    @Free Hussaini

    Diplomatic missions are not for merely issuing visas and passports. Recommend

  • Free Hussaini


    This is the age of teleconferencing. There is no excuse for a poor country like us to indulge in an obsolete luxury like this.

    Shut them down.Recommend

  • Haider

    @Free Hussaini

    I am not sure if you understand the role of embassay. Just to take a paragraph from this article:

    “Diplomacy plays a critical role in statecraft and foreign policy and Pakistan needs to start making it a priority. If you attend international ceremonies and festivities in Islamabad or Washington DC, you will often find that diplomats are called “bridge” between nations. There is more to that: diplomatic representatives abroad are the eyes, ears, and the mouth of the foreign office back home. If foreign policy is devised appropriately, diplomatic representatives in the field can fulfill their symbolic, legal and political roles.”

    Your call to shut down embassies is rather childish.Recommend

  • Amigos

    “The consular official who escorted Pakistani citizen Mohammed Saif Ur Rehman Khan at the US Embassy in Chile before his arrest on weapons charges has not testified in the case, claiming diplomatic immunity.
    Consular official William Whitaker identified himself as “Mr. Bill” at the time he led Pakistani national Mr. Rehman Khan to a small room in the embassy compound. Later he asked to photocopy his documents and requested to have his cellular phone. He left, leaving the door locked. About half an hour later Mr. Khan was arrested by personnel from the embassy on charges that traces of Tetryl, a rare explosive material, had been detected in his phone.
    The American consul, who was instrumental in the arrest of Mr. Khan, has not testified before the prosecution, claiming that embassy officials who participated in the arrest have diplomatic immunity. With this, it remains unclear why Whitaker called Khan to the embassy and what details of his background were available to the US Embassy.” DigitalJournalRecommend

  • Yasir Ali

    Excellent article. I really like all sides of comments.Recommend