National Interest At Critical Juncture

National Interest At Critical Juncture
National interests can be defined as the claims, objectives, goals, demands, and interests that a nation always tries to preserve, protect, defend and secure in relation with other nations. A nation must have a distinct national vision, pursued by visionary leadership, supported by a long-term strategy, and monitored by strict accountability systems if it wants to advance in the world community.

Similarly, time and things will ultimately end, but we will never learn from our past mistakes. As Pakistan is going through the worst politico-economic turmoil in its history for more than 75 years and is almost on a verge of bankruptcy . However, the ongoing repercussions are unprecedented, and our external debts have touched a record high, it appears that we are putting our national interest at stake.

Under such critical circumstances, our politicians and concerned authorities need to think shrewdly and sensibly without compromising our national interest. Indeed, we can cope with these challenges as we come out of this plight in the past as well. Pakistan, whose economy is in dire straits owing to corruption, mishandling, and unstable governance has particularly deteriorated the situation entirely and is going through testing times, but the saddest part is that Pakistan’s history is filled with chaotic political events including violent movements.

That’s why international rating agencies have reduced Pakistan’s future economic outlook as a result of the economy’s gloom, which is mostly caused by political instability. In October 2001, after 9/11, it took on another essential goal to accomplish the combating the financing of terrorism.

However, in 2012, Pakistan was put in the grey list till 2015. Almost 3 years later, on June 29, 2018, Pakistan placed again and was given a stipulated time of 15 months for implementation of 27-action plan failure to which added into a blacklist.

After making high-level commitment, in 2019 Pakistan escaped the FATF’s blacklist but then it was decided that it’ll remain in the grey list and was tasked to complete its full action plan. After 4 years, the global money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog on October 2022 removed Pakistan from grey list that proved that Pakistan has made significant effort to counter money laundering and etc.

As a result, we must reassess the current (AML-CFT) system and resolve the gaps in the legal and enforcement framework to bring it in line with global best practices.

Interestingly, whenever we put our national interest at the climax, our nation stands united like a chaplet of beads and can get over any stumbling block. Let’s put altercations aside, I’m not highlighting any specific government, but it should be the solemn responsibility of each ruling party to craft its interest in a better way. There is no proper way and policy of securing the non-traditional interests of the state.

Imran Khan’s government introduced the national security draft, but they had no plan or strategy to implement it. In that draft, they want Pakistan to be excluded from all regional conflicts. To me though, one of the core issues Pakistan has never achieved its goal is that it is hooked on aid and those countries who can’t stand for themselves will never achieve any target. Therefore, aid has been a curse for us because it creates dependency.

Instead of adopting the strategy of neoliberalism, boosting our trade and utilizing our natural resources to counter economic challenges, we are still finding other ways to get rid of this. I’m of the view that we need to bolster our relations with every country, even with Russia and North Korea for trade, installation of corporations, and exchanging military hardware; we shouldn’t limit our country only to China and other countries.

In the case of warfare, it’d be an ill-advised step to indulge in this even under the pressure of our allies, which must be our final and absolute stance because one country cannot sacrifice itself for the national or strategic interest of its allies.

Moreover, even international law didn’t stop, e.g., destabilizing Ukraine; Israel’s illegally occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank; India’s illegally occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and the gross human rights violations across the world that ultimately set the bad optics.

So, it wouldn’t be disappointing if someone presumes that global security has been compromised and cautioned underdeveloped countries for the lives of innocent people. Someone put it very accurately, “The predominant yardstick of your government is not human rights but national interests ”. Although nations are required to upholding the law of nations and try to create peace across the world, on the other hand, these laws may conflict with state's national interests to some extent, putting the state's foreign policy in a nebulous position of national interest versus international law.

Also, Pakistan is a responsible nuclear-armed state that is perfectly capable of defending its interests while abiding by international law and maintains the right to defend its sovereignty.

It’s high time that we must work together to advance the rule of law in global affairs and should compel all parties to preserve the authority and sanctity of international law and abide by internationally acknowledged fundamental principles guiding international relations. Although, Pakistan also requires a thorough legal system that enables us to protect its interests both at the internal and external levels. The absence of legal expertise within state institutions, whether it be in the areas of diplomacy, the economy, armed conflict, the environment, etc., frequently impedes development and is a hindrance to statecraft.

The writer holds an LLM from University of Lahore and is a freelance columnist.