Bangladesh-Japan Relations: An Upward Trend Towards Strategic Partnership?

The world order that we have become accustomed to since the end of the Cold war is now shifting as new powers are emerging in the international arena with existing powers trying to maintain the status quo. The new power competition is forging, reinforcing traditional military alliances and smaller confederations are emerging in the global arena. War has returned to the European continent, and the threat of violence has grown in the Eurasian region. All this is happening when the world is confronted with a multitude of complex and interdependent challenges. There is no single power or group of nations that can address and overcome these challenges alone. These can only be resolved through collective action taken with a comprehensive approach, however, the political trend of unilateralism and populism is upsurging. The drift towards a new cold war restricts the efficacy of multilateral channels that were established for the peaceful settlement of conflicts, avoidance of disputes, and a drive towards common development. The UN system is crucial for restoring peace and equitable international order at a time when global divisions are exacerbating owing to bloc politics. In the near future, uncertainty is likely to be the dominant feature of the global and regional environments. The common threats to humanity, such as climate change, environmental degradation, and viruses, have become more acute. The emergence of disruptive innovations is spatially concentrated in one location. Other concerns include pandemics, interruptions in the supply chain, arm conflicts, and changing weather patterns. These challenges have disproportionately impacted the global south. The hike in fuel prices and inflation are also leading to disparities, social unrest, and political instability. It is not incorrect to suggest that we are entering a new and unpredictable environment in which we must thrive. 

Today the world is at a critical juncture therefore, Pakistan’s foreign policy must adapt to these shifting trends. Pakistan must flourish in the complicated external environment by safeguarding its sovereignty, territorial integrity and defending its national interests. The quintessential national goal shall be to ensure sustained prosperity and progress for the people of Pakistan. The foreign policy is consequently adhered to promote the key national interests. 

Diplomacy has traditionally been taken as the first line of defense for a country like Pakistan. Islamabad has always striven to build trust, and credibility, which serve as the cornerstone of international relations. It has also worked hard to consolidate, norms, conventions, and partnerships, as well as forged rules based on the principles of mutual respect, shared interest, peaceful co-existence, and win-win collaboration. This provides consistency and stability in the policies while also providing the ability to respond to the changing environment. 

Pakistan has intrinsically focused on her immediate neighbors, Afghanistan, India, and the challenges in Indian Illegally Occupied J&K (IIOJK). The country has continued to seek balanced, impartial, and mutually-beneficial bilateral relations around its neighborhood. 

Pakistan, on the other hand, has long sought to strengthen ties with the P5 nations, the EU, and other major development partners such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Turkey, and others. To improve mutually beneficial cooperation, the government is also deepening its outreach to other regions including South East Asia, Central Asia and Africa. 

Peace and development are pivot to geo-economics- to bring the dividend of economic growth and prosperity to the masses, instead of becoming a party to any bloc or any conflict, Pakistan has constantly opted to be only the partner in peace and development.

Also, to bring the dividend of economic growth and prosperity to the masses. Rather than becoming the party to any bloc or any conflict, Pakistan has constantly opted to be only the partner for peace and development. Peace and development are pivot to geo-economics, however, our policy is consistent-it is to promote economic development, protecting the national security interest of Pakistan, forging good relations with all the nations of the world and making contributions to the advancement of international peace, security, progress and prosperity. 

It is only the national strength that translates into the external growth of the country. At present, the economy is our greatest vulnerability and turning into an Achilles heel. It is reeling under unprecedented political and macro-economic imbalances which are associated with domestic and international actions. To overcome this challenge, the foremost priority is to restore financial stability to boost exports and facilitate foreign remittances. The attainment of economic security will guarantee the well-being of the people while also helping Pakistan to advance its standing in the global arena.

On the world’s stage, the Ukrainian conflict has remained a matter of deep concern. It affects the failure of diplomacy and has led to the humanitarian suffering of people. Pakistan supports the immediate cessation of hostilities and should return to the dialogue. Both countries should find a solution based on international law and UN Charter. Pakistan has nonetheless adopted the non-partisan approach to help safeguard its interests. 

The greatest threat to the peace, security, and stability of the South Asian region emanates from the Hindutva ideology that has been entrenched in India. The people of IIOJK and the Muslim minority of India have all the grunt of this malicious agenda. Indeed, what India is undergoing today has far-reaching implications for the future of South Asia. India today is governed by people who staunchly believe in authoritarianism and majoritarianism. Pakistan has consistently highlighted the need for sustainable peace in South Asia, which is tangent upon the just settlement of Kashmir under the relevant resolution of the UN Security Council and the wish of the people of Kashmir. India’s unilateral actions of 2019 to unlawfully modify the demographic structure of Kashmir and revocation of the special status of Kashmir gravely undermine the prospects for peace process. There is a need to take the necessary steps to ensure a result-oriented and meaningful dialogue. Pakistan, on its part must remain firm to provide all possible support to the Kashmiris till the legitimate and inalienable right to self-determination is realized as per the resolutions of the UN Security Council. 

Pakistan lies at the crossroads of Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, and China. It facilitates connectivity and is hence vital for holding economic interests and reinvigorating century old historical links. In the context of connectivity and shared future- the transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) provides an invaluable platform for development. It is the hallmark of the all-weather strategic partnership with China and is contributing to Pakistan’s economic turnout in addition to forging regional connectivity and prosperity. Many countries have expressed the desire to join CPEC. The expectations of Pakistan from CPEC are infrastructural development, economic opportunities to boost trade, and prospects for employment. Pakistan considers CPEC as the game-changer, but then again it’s not just for Pakistan but for the whole region as well. 

Pakistan has always emphasized on shared responsibility in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan, despite all the challenges- terrorism, influx of refugees, and false narratives that have tested the resilience of Pakistan. Pakistan has long maintained that there is no military solution to Afghanistan and secondly, a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest. The authorities in Pakistan have reiterated time and again that the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan should be only progress in intra-Afghan negotiations but the international forces withdrew in haste. After decades of conflict, it is a unique opportunity to stabilize Afghanistan and bring sustainable peace. It is imperative that international systems should scaled-up the efforts in Afghanistan to help address the humanitarian and economic crisis. Pakistan has consistently expressed the need to positively respond to the expectation of the international community concerning the inclusivity of girls in education, human rights and subdue the threat of terrorism. As a next-door neighbor, Pakistan cannot afford to disengage from Afghanistan

In the region, Pakistan has always shown a keen desire to strengthen ties with all the countries- Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. To improve the bilateral relations with mutual trust, sovereignty, and equality. The artificial obstacles that paved in the way of SAARC should be removed as SAARC is a very vital forum for regional peace and collaborative relations. 

The bumpy bilateral relations of the US and Pakistan. It is an important relationship for Pakistan. Pakistan has now pushed a reset button on Pak-US relations to reduce the trust deficit- with the aim to develop a board-based relationship based on mutual trust and respect. Pakistan is working close to the US to promote shared goals bilaterally and regionally. The message that Pakistan has followed-Pakistan is open to economic and development cooperation. Pakistan is talking about trade, not aid. Pakistan urged not to look at Pakistan from the prism of relations with other countries. Pakistan should only engage in those forums that enhance its political and security interests. 

Moreover, Pakistan has always strived to build bridges and promote dialogue with all the Muslim countries of the world. Pakistan has seriously avoided taking sides and did not become part of any conflict. Pakistan has developed wider cooperation with KSA, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran, Turkey, UAE, and all the other countries. This has established a new spirit of friendship with all. Pakistan has maintained its very consistent stance on the independent state of Palestine on pre-1963 borders. With KSA, the relations of Pakistan are deeply engraved, these relations range from religious to economic to strategic. The huge Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf countries makes the economies of these countries with Pakistan integrated. Similarly, the relations with Iran are deep-rooted with historical, deeply spiritual and cultural ties. Pakistan needs to catch-up on its relations with all the countries on the economic, investment energy, and connectivity front. 

Also, the reach of Pakistan towards African countries has intensified over the past few years. The relations with ASEAN, EU and other are qualitatively operated. Pakistan has unique ties with partnered countries in Africa, it has opened 5 new diplomatic missions to African states; Guinea, Djibouti, Rwanda and a few others along with the upgradation of missions in other parts as well. Ties are based on shared objectives and peace. Pakistan has supported the freedom struggle of many African countries. Pakistan has been trying to bring peace to African countries through UN-peace keeping missions for the past 7 decades. 

Pakistan’s pivot towards economic diplomacy will give further momentum to other avenues of cooperation. Pakistan is also showing its role in commitment to unilateralism and UN system. Pakistan is also contributing to UN reforms and wants to see the emergence of a more democratic and more effective UN. Likewise, Pakistan has remained a great advocate of regional cooperation, which can be seen by the country’s membership and strong contribution to regional forums like OIC, ECO, SAARC, and SCO. Pakistan has also chaired the OIC council of foreign ministers-such strong profile adds to the prestige and influence of Pakistan at regional and global levels. 

Pakistan is undoubtedly committed to bringing peaceful cooperation among all the countries of the world. The main focus of Pakistan’s foreign policy is to bring prosperity, mutual economic development, peace, and security. The world order should be inclusive and should address all the challenges collectively. The Foreign Office of Pakistan must realize that the world will not come to us. It is our responsibility to increase the diplomatic posture to communicate our message to the rest of the world with integrity and vigor. Pakistan, undoubtedly, has the resilience to deal with the challenges and also to play its rightful role in the global arena. 

Aziz Patwary – moderndiplomacy

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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