23 August 2022, Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz – President, Institute of Regional Studies(IRS), Islamabad delivered a DSS Distinguished Lecture Series Lecture on: Pakistan: Regional and Global Foreign Policy Challenges at the Defence and Strategic Studies Department, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad. The session was moderated by Dr Shabana Fayyaz – Chairperson of the department and attended by the faculty, students and the distinguished guests from the academia, think-tank’s, and media.
Ambassador Nadeem elaborated in detail that how foreign policy of Pakistan is influenced by a number of elements, including the global and regional environment and is essentially an extension of the domestic strengths and weaknesses. The Ambassador briefed the audience about how regional hegemons are striving to exercise their influence in a time of global change in the regional and international system.
Speaking on the world’s ever-shifting landscape, Ambassador Nadeem highlighted the Middle East’s complete metamorphosis as a result of investments from many nations. He noted that the region has evolved from a time when “monarchy and oil were the only topics of conversation”. The Ambassador stressed the importance of realignments, noting that they are the norm in a global setting and are frequently required in the current global climate in which we operate.
Pakistan’s strategic construct was discussed at length. Noting that since its inception Pakistan has been faced with the border security concerns. The Ambassador alluded to the fact that, in addition to the challenges Pakistan does have strategic environment that offers us opportunities, such as: Pakistan’s position as the world’s pivot and the country’s reach into the Central Asian Republics, the Middle East, and the Indian Ocean. Considering terrorism, the Ambassador reiterated that Pakistan cannot ignore the presence of ISIS, Khorasan, TTP, or outlawed terrorist organizations within and beyond.
Ambassador maintained the stated goals of Pakistan’s foreign policy are: promoting Pakistan as a dynamic, progressive, moderate, and democratic Islamic nation. Secondly, amicable ties with every country in the world, focusing on major powers and immediate neighbors, safeguarding national security geostrategic interests including Kashmir, enhancing economic and commercial relations with the worldwide community, protecting the interests of Pakistan’s overseas diaspora, and finally ensuring efficient use of national resources for international and regional collaboration.
The Ambassador maintained that promoting positive Perception abo Pakistan has been his ongoing struggle since his multiple years of diplomatic service. In his opinion, Pakistan’s foreign policy should prioritize building relations with the United States while managing the Sino-American conflict. In addition, Pakistan must manage its relations with India, and it must also have functional ties with Afghanistan. More emphasis should be placed on balancing relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Pakistan must reach out to multiple parties, such as Russia and European nations, in order to meet its energy demands. The Ambassador said, “You cannot select sides; when you do, it becomes a critical challenge.”
Following the thorough brief by Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz, very pertinent questions about: how to maintain balance between USA and China given Pakistan’s low economic indicators; How to promote positive image of our country; what role Youth can play in this regard, and how Youth dividend be converted into Startegic asset than a liability; Role of Social Media; Role of Diaspora and finally role of educational institutions in fostering research and critical thinking – were raised by the audience. Chairperson DSS Department Dr. Shabana Fayyaz, summed up the session by underlining the challenges of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy and suggested countermeasures. In end, the Chairperson Dr Shabana Fayyaz complimented Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz, President – Institute of Regional Studies’ Islamabad (IRS) to spare his valuable time for a very substantive interactive session at the DSS department.