The Foreign Policy of Nawaz Sharifs as a Reflection of Democratic Changes in Pakistan
Starting from 2013, the foreign policy Pakistan is focused on openness and strengthening relations with the Gulf Coast countries, Iran, China, Afghanistan, Turkey, India, Russia, the US, and EU. In 2014, Pakistan announced the successful completion of the Prime Ministers first-year work. The first priorities are overcoming the energy crisis, ensuring the sustainable development and economic recovery of Pakistan. However, the security of Pakistan and the neutralization of the increasing terrorist threat are still in the top priority. According to the Foreign Ministry, it can be achieved through the strengthening of Pakistan positions, further development of regional ties, and openness in the foreign policy. Thus, the further development of Pakistani democracy under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a major impact on its foreign policy and strengthening regional, relations and enabled him to enlist the support of the most developed countries of the world.
The China-Pakistan Relations
According to the Pakistans Foreign Ministry, to achieve the mentioned goals and balance in the geo-economic geo-strategic priorities, the country should first of all resolve the energy crisis, address terrorism, and extremism, and expand trade and investment. Also, Pakistan promotes energy projects, communication, regional trade, and transport with West Asia, Central Asia, and China. In the China-Pakistan relationships, each of the parties receives benefits in serving their national interests. Besides, relations with China are the cornerstone of Pakistans foreign policy. Pakistan supports Chinas interests in Taiwan and Tibet. In its turn, Pakistan receives confidence in the implementation of main infrastructure projects and long-term investment. China is constantly looking for new energy markets. That is why during 2013-2014 Pakistan has signed about 20 investment projects with China. Those are projects in various sectors of the economy. As a result, of the Chinas technical assistance and investment, Pakistan began construction on the Gwadar port. Also, there is an agreement for the construction of highways and railways through Pakistan that will be connected with Chinese energy networks, road, and rail. The major role is played by Beijing in the China-Pakistan relationship. Thus, the democratic changes in Pakistan bring openness to China-Pakistan international relationships.
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The Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations
During 2013-2014, the Afghanistan-Pakistan relationships have been developing as part of international efforts aimed at resolving the Afghanistans internal political situation. Pakistan continues developing Afghanistan-Pakistan relationships at the international and regional level aimed to solve problems of transit management, transit trade and regulation of border control. Also, the government of Pakistan continues the fight against the drug trafficking, coordinates returning refugees to Afghanistan, and makes efforts to normalize the relations between Kabul and Islamabad that remain complicated due to numerous border incidents. However, the constructive dialogue allowed reducing the lack of trust between two countries. In 2014, the Afghanistan-Pakistan cooperation and anti-terrorism efforts were strengthened after the visit of the US President Barack Obama to Afghanistan. Thus, Afghanistan-Pakistan relationships remain tense; however, the Pakistani government has demonstrated that it is always ready for constructive dialogue.
The India-Pakistan Relations
The India-Pakistan relationships are still urgent and complex since a number of border incidents on the line of control in 2013-2014. Nawaz Sharif stated that Pakistan will continue seeking productive and sustainable dialogue between India and Pakistan. The economic cooperation between two countries was expanded since the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan has continued the successful policy of the former ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). However, it has not yet resulted in meaningful progress. It was decided to start a new round of the humanitarian package discussion, and to postpone discussions of the major contentious issues. It was a breakthrough in Indian-Pakistani relations, and it followed by consultations at the state secretaries level. Generally, there was a positive reaction from both sides. They signed customs agreements in addition to visa agreements. During 2013-2014, Pakistani Foreign Ministry did not make any active moves since Pakistan was expected for results of parliamentary elections in India, and the possible subsequent change of government. At the moment, Islamabad is building relationships with the new Indian Prime Minister that is also a challenge. Thus, Pakistan is focused on openness in Indian-Pakistani relations.
The American-Pakistan Relations
The relations between Islamabad and Washington have a more ambiguous nature. For the US, Pakistan remains a major ally in West Asia. (Nasir, n.d.). However, the positions of Islamabad that it had in the past were displaced by the reorientation of the US on the Asia-Pacific region, conflicts in Iraq and Syria, and the withdrawal of NATO and US forces from Afghanistan. As a result, the White House has cut financial aid to Islamabad and continues using drones along the Pakistani-Afghanistan border despite protests from Pakistan. However, the cooperation between the US and Pakistan continues to developing. Islamabad has made efforts to open up the US market markets for goods from Pakistan, attract the US investment, and increase the volume of trade. Thus, the relations between Islamabad and Washington are at the stage of development.
The EU-Pakistan Relations
The democratic changes in Pakistan allowed it to get the EU GSP status in 2013. It had increased the cooperation in the social sector, investment, trade, and strengthened the cooperation in fighting terrorism. In 2013, Pakistan began efforts to provide trade preferences for its goods in the EU market and to reduce customs duties. Since that time they were not completely successful. However, in 2013, under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan finally got desired results. Thus, the EU-Pakistan relations entered the new era.
Pakistan and Countries of Middle East
Starting from 2013, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the rest countries of the Gulf became the new priority for Pakistani foreign policy since Sharif is considered to be an ally of SA. During 2013-2014, the situation in the Middle East has changed due to the change of the situation in Syria, the arrest of former Egyptian President Mursi, and the Egyptian military that entered the political arena. The conflict in Syria and events in Cairo became the reason for a change in the attitudes of Pakistan authorizes. As a result, the Pakistani military cooperation with the countries of the Gulf Coast has enhanced greatly. Thus, the relations between Pakistan and countries of Middle East have since these countries are in the list of Pakistani top priorities.
Pakistan and the Rest Countries
Iran and Turkey are next in the Pakistani ranking of priorities. Islamabad considers Istanbul to be the main regional ally, both in trade and militarily fields. Turkey is the main investor for key sectors of the Pakistani economy. On the contrary, Pakistani-Iranian relations are still tense. In the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Policy ranking of priorities, Russia occupies the last place. The cooperation between Islamabad and Moscow take place only within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or similar international organizations. Thus, the relations between Pakistan and Iran, Turkey, and Russia remain to be controversial.
In conclusion, starting from 2013, the foreign policy of Pakistan is focused on openness and strengthening relations with the countries from its region and over the world. For Sharif, security of Pakistan and the neutralization of the growing terrorist threat were the top priority. Due to the democratic changes under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistani is supported by the most developed countries of the world such as the US and EU countries. In 2013, the policy of Nawaz Sharif allowed Pakistan to get the EU GSP status in 2013. Pakistan is a major US and Turkey ally in the region and the fight against terrorism in West Asia. Saudi Arabia and the rest countries of the Gulf are in priority for Pakistani foreign policy However, China is the first commercial partner of Pakistan. The relations with Iraq, India, and Afghanistan remain to be controversial.