Crucial Factors and Interests Influencing Foreign Policy of Pakistan


Foreign policy is a tool of achieving the objectives of sates in foreign relations dictated national many internal and external factors. It was started with the emergence of Nation-State System. State needs foreign policy because as Aristotle said that man is a social animal cannot live without society like that state also cannot live alone without its society i.e. International community, because each and every state is dependent for many things on other states. Therefore, each state even superpower need to come into interaction with other states to fulfil their needs and interests. For this interaction, a state needs a foreign policy to deal with other foreign states. At present globalised world order, there are two types of factors and interests influencing Foreign Policy of every state including Pakistan, i.e. internal and external. These factors and interests are based on Realism theory of international relations. Foreign policy is not operating in a vacuum but conditional to both domestic and global environment but driven by both internal and external factors.As concerned the internal/domestic factors influencing foreign policy are more crucial than external factors of foreign policy.

The first and most important internal factor is national interest which is the primary factor influencing the foreign policy of Pakistan. Pakistan is formulating its foreign policy while keeping in view its national interest. Primarily, foreign policy is formulated to advance national interests outside the state territorial borders. States pursues its national interest using Allison’s Rational Actor Model (RAM). While many developing countries following Allison’s 3rd model i.e. Bureaucratic Politics Model in making foreign policy decisions.Organizational Process and Bureaucratic Politics also influence foreign policy of Pakistan because the decision makers many times put their priorities at top. Foreign policy decisions of Pakistan are also influenced by psychological and social milieu. It means that if the society of the state is orthodox or fundamentalist then its policy will also predict fundamentalism. Pakistan’s foreign policy towards Muslim countries are different from non-Muslim countries. In Pakistan Individual characters of the persons who are formulating the foreign policy is also influencing it. Religious theocratic governments like Zia regime it is recorded that Pakistan had comparatively more friendly approach towards other theocratic states of Middle East while in the regimes of Pakistan People Party it had turned towards socialist countries. While now during PTI government it is turning towards progressive countries like Turkey and Malaysia etc. In Pakistan, the public opinion of the citizens is also influencing its foreign policy very much. For instance, Pakistan’s decision of not recognizing Israel due to public opinion that she is involved in genocide of Philistine people. Ideology is also playing very important role and influencing foreign policy of Pakistan as it is evident from Pakistan’s friendly policy towards Muslim countries and restrain policy towards India. In Pakistan, the ideology of the political party in power, is also widely influencing the foreign policy of the country.

On the other hand, external factors are also influencing Pakistan’s Foreign Policy. The first factor is alliances. Alliances are mostly emerged after the WW-II proved to be very crucial factor influencing the foreign policies of developing states like Pakistan. Most of the time Pakistan remains the part of US-led alliances like the then SEATO, CENTO and now war on terror. These alliances had largely influenced and still influencing the foreign policy of Pakistan. As foreign policy decisions are based on realism therefore the Power Structure is also influencing the foreign policy of Pakistan. Securing of foreign policy objective is totally depend upon on the “power” therefore the power structure of world is influencing the foreign policies of every states including Pakistan. International Organizations of which Pakistan is member also influence its foreign policy. For example, Pakistan cooperated with US due to UN Security council resolutions despite of her unwilling at the time of attack on Afghanistan in 2001. The Reaction of other States is also a crucial factor influencing foreign policy. While making foreign policy decision Pakistan also take care of friends and allies. For example, last year Saudi Arabia demanded Pakistan to send its troops to Yamen, but Pakistan refused due to reaction of Iran. The World Public Opinion is also a factor of influence. Pakistan never taking such a decision which is against the world public opinion. Geography also greatly determines the foreign policy of Pakistan as Pakistan has very good friendship with China due to geographic contiguity. History is also greatly influencing foreign policy of Pakistan as she has restrained policies towards India due to its history. Most importantly at present globalized world natural resources are greatly influencing the foreign policy of all states. Natural resources of a state compel other states to have good foreign policy towards it. For example, all neighbouring countries including Pakistan have formulated friendly foreign policies towards Central Asian Republics (CARs) mainly due to their natural resources.

To conclude Foreign policy is a very complex phenomena of modern-day international relations, therefore it is influencing by a variety of internal and international actors and interests, among which national interest is prevailing.

Hashmat Ullah Khan
Hashmat Ullah Khan
PhD Scholar, School of International and Public Affairs, Jilin University, China


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