Post Partition Pakistan #28 Historical Developments 2013-2018
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government's tenure from 2013 to 2018, Pakistan experienced various significant events and developments in political, economic, and social spheres.
Here are some of the key events and highlights during this period:
- General Elections 2013: The period began with the general elections held in May 2013, which resulted in the PML-N securing a majority in the National Assembly. Nawaz Sharif assumed the office of Prime Minister for the third time.
- Economic Development Initiatives:
- The government launched several economic development initiatives, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major infrastructure and energy project in partnership with China.
- Efforts were made to address energy shortages through the construction of power plants and the initiation of energy-related projects.
- Operation Zarb-e-Azb: The military launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014 to combat militants in the tribal areas of North Waziristan and other regions. This operation aimed to eliminate terrorist networks and enhance security.
- Panama Papers Scandal: The Panama Papers leak in 2016 revealed offshore wealth and assets held by various world leaders, including members of the Sharif family. This led to investigations and legal proceedings against Nawaz Sharif and his family, resulting in his disqualification as Prime Minister in 2017.
- Supreme Court Verdict: The Supreme Court of Pakistan, in its landmark judgment in the Panama Papers case, disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding public office and ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate corruption allegations against him and his family.
- Census 2017: Pakistan conducted its population and housing census in 2017, providing updated demographic data that is crucial for resource allocation, representation, and policy planning.
- Election of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi: After Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was elected as the interim Prime Minister of Pakistan by the National Assembly.
- General Elections 2018: Pakistan held general elections in July 2018, resulting in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, led by Imran Khan, emerging as the largest party. PTI formed a coalition government at the federal and provincial levels.
- Security and Counterterrorism Efforts: Pakistan continued its efforts to combat terrorism and improve security. While Operation Zarb-e-Azb had made significant strides, security challenges, including occasional terrorist attacks, persisted.
- China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): The government continued to work on the CPEC project, which aimed to improve infrastructure, energy, and trade connectivity between Pakistan and China.
- Relations with India: Pakistan-India relations remained strained during this period, with sporadic incidents along the Line of Control (LoC) and ongoing disputes over Kashmir.
- Social Development: Efforts were made to address social development issues, including education and healthcare, although challenges such as access to quality education and healthcare disparities persisted.
It’s important to note that the PML-N government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018 was marked by a mix of political, economic, and security developments, including both achievements and challenges. The period was characterized by political transitions, economic initiatives, and ongoing efforts to address issues related to governance, security, and accountability.
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, several key leaders held prominent positions in the government and other institutions. Here are some of the key leaders during this period:
- Nawaz Sharif: Nawaz Sharif was the leader of the PML-N and served as the Prime Minister of Pakistan during the majority of this period, from June 5, 2013, until his disqualification on July 28, 2017.
- Shahbaz Sharif: Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, served as the Chief Minister of Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan, throughout this period. He played a crucial role in the provincial government’s administration.
- Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan: Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan served as the Interior Minister of Pakistan from June 7, 2013, to July 28, 2017. He was responsible for internal security matters.
- Ishaq Dar: Ishaq Dar served as the Finance Minister of Pakistan during this period. He played a key role in the government’s economic policies and reforms.
- Khawaja Muhammad Asif: Khawaja Muhammad Asif served as the Minister for Water and Power and later as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. He was actively involved in diplomatic efforts and foreign policy matters.
- Pervez Rashid: Pervez Rashid held the position of Information Minister during this period and was responsible for government communications and media relations.
- Raheel Sharif: General Raheel Sharif was the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army during this time. He played a crucial role in the military’s operations, including Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
- Saad Rafique: Khawaja Saad Rafique served as the Minister for Railways and played a significant role in the development and modernization of Pakistan’s railway system.
- Ahsan Iqbal: Ahsan Iqbal was the Minister for Planning, Development, and Reforms. He was involved in economic planning and development initiatives.
- Pervaiz Malik: Pervaiz Malik held the portfolio of Minister for Commerce and Textile Industry, overseeing trade-related matters.
- Mian Raza Rabbani: Mian Raza Rabbani served as the Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan during this period, playing a key role in the legislative process and parliamentary affairs.
- Imran Khan: Imran Khan was the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and served as the opposition leader during this period. He played a critical role in challenging the PML-N government and its policies.
These leaders held key positions in the government, military, and opposition during the PML-N government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018. Their roles and actions had a significant impact on Pakistan’s political, economic, and security landscape during this period.
Economic Reforms, Progress, and challenges
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, several economic reforms and developments took place, along with various challenges. Here are some of the key economic reforms, progress, and challenges during this period:
Economic Reforms and Progress:
- China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): The government initiated the CPEC project, a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure and energy initiative in partnership with China. It aimed to improve connectivity, modernize infrastructure, and address Pakistan’s energy crisis.
- Energy Sector Reforms: The government made efforts to address the chronic energy shortages by initiating numerous power generation projects, including coal-fired, hydro, and solar power plants.
- Economic Growth: Pakistan’s economy showed signs of growth during this period, with GDP growth rates hovering around 4-5% annually. This growth was driven by increased infrastructure spending, construction activities, and investment in the energy sector.
- Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): There was an uptick in foreign direct investment in Pakistan, driven in part by CPEC-related projects and improved security conditions in some regions.
- Tax Reforms: The government introduced various tax reforms to broaden the tax base, improve tax collection, and reduce tax evasion. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) underwent reforms to enhance its efficiency.
- Monetary Policy: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) pursued a relatively stable monetary policy, which helped control inflation to some extent.
- Stock Market Performance: Pakistan’s stock market, the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE), saw significant gains during this period, attracting both domestic and foreign investors.
- Fiscal Deficit: Pakistan continued to face fiscal challenges, including a persistent fiscal deficit, which put pressure on the government’s budget and borrowing requirements.
- Energy Crisis: While progress was made in addressing energy shortages, the energy crisis was far from fully resolved, and power outages persisted in some areas.
- External Debt: The country’s external debt increased, partly due to the financing needs of infrastructure projects like CPEC. Managing this debt became a challenge.
- Current Account Deficit: Pakistan experienced a significant current account deficit, leading to concerns about the country’s external payments position.
- Unemployment and Poverty: Unemployment and poverty remained significant challenges, and economic growth did not always translate into sufficient job creation or poverty reduction.
- Political Instability: Political instability, including the Panama Papers scandal and subsequent court rulings, created uncertainty in the business and investment environment.
- Security Concerns: Security challenges, including occasional terrorist incidents, continued to affect economic activities and foreign investment.
- Structural Reforms: Structural reforms, including those related to the civil service, public sector enterprises, and governance, were slow to materialize.
It’s important to note that economic progress and challenges during this period were influenced by both domestic and global factors. The government made efforts to stimulate economic growth and address long-standing issues such as energy shortages, but many challenges persisted, requiring continued attention and reform efforts.
Political and constitutional Reforms, Progress and Challenges
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, several political and constitutional reforms were implemented, and the country witnessed both progress and challenges in these areas. Here are some of the key political and constitutional reforms, as well as the associated progress and challenges during this period:
Political Reforms and Progress:
- Devolution of Power: The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 2010 but implemented during this period, devolved more powers to the provinces, enhancing provincial autonomy. This marked a significant step towards decentralization of power.
- Electoral Reforms: The government took steps to improve the electoral process by introducing measures such as biometric verification and electronic voting machines (EVMs) to enhance transparency and reduce electoral fraud.
- Balochistan Package: Efforts were made to address the grievances of Balochistan by introducing a package of constitutional and political reforms aimed at granting greater political autonomy and resource-sharing to the province.
- Census 2017: The government conducted the population and housing census in 2017, providing updated demographic data that was essential for resource allocation, representation, and policy planning.
- Election of Caretaker Governments: The government and opposition successfully negotiated the appointment of caretaker governments during the lead-up to the 2013 and 2018 general elections, promoting political stability.
Challenges in Political Reforms:
- Panama Papers Scandal: The Panama Papers leak in 2016 revealed offshore wealth and assets held by various political leaders, including members of the Sharif family. This led to investigations, court cases, and political turmoil.
- Disqualification of Nawaz Sharif: The Supreme Court’s disqualification of Nawaz Sharif from holding public office in July 2017, following the Panama Papers case, raised questions about the accountability process and political continuity.
- Election-Related Challenges: Despite electoral reforms, there were allegations of irregularities and vote-rigging in the 2013 and 2018 general elections, leading to disputes and political tensions.
- Political Polarization: Pakistan experienced political polarization, with opposition parties accusing the government of corruption and mismanagement, leading to protests and confrontations.
- Implementation of the 18th Amendment: The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which devolved powers to the provinces and enhanced provincial autonomy, was implemented, contributing to a more decentralized system of governance.
- Protection of Fundamental Rights: The judiciary played an active role in protecting fundamental rights and upholding the rule of law through various judgments.
Challenges in Constitutional Reforms:
- Judicial Activism: While judicial activism ensured accountability in some cases, it also raised concerns about the separation of powers and the role of the judiciary in political matters.
- Incomplete Reforms: Some constitutional reforms, including those related to civil service, public sector enterprises, and governance, remained incomplete or slow to materialize.
- Lack of Consensus: The political landscape was marked by a lack of consensus on various constitutional and governance reforms, leading to delays and gridlock in the legislative process.
It’s important to note that Pakistan’s political and constitutional landscape is dynamic and subject to ongoing changes and debates. While the period from 2013 to 2018 saw progress in certain areas, it also faced challenges, reflecting the complexities of the country’s political environment.
Health Reforms, Progress and Challenges
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, several health reforms were initiated, and the country witnessed both progress and challenges in the healthcare sector. Here are some of the key health reforms, progress, and challenges during this period:
Health Reforms and Progress:
- National Health Services, Regulation, and Coordination Division: The government established the National Health Services, Regulation, and Coordination Division to oversee healthcare policies, regulations, and coordination among provinces.
- Health Insurance Schemes: The government introduced health insurance programs in some provinces, including the Punjab Health Insurance Program (PHIP) and the Sindh Health Insurance Program (SHIP). These programs aimed to provide financial protection to low-income individuals and families by covering their healthcare expenses.
- Expanded Healthcare Infrastructure: Efforts were made to expand and upgrade healthcare infrastructure, including the construction and renovation of hospitals and healthcare facilities, particularly in underserved areas.
- Immunization Programs: Immunization campaigns were launched to increase vaccination coverage and protect children from preventable diseases. Special attention was given to polio eradication efforts.
- Maternal and Child Health: Programs targeting maternal and child health were implemented to reduce maternal and child mortality rates. These initiatives included training healthcare workers, improving access to prenatal and postnatal care, and promoting safe childbirth practices.
- Anti-Tobacco Campaigns: The government introduced anti-tobacco campaigns and policies to raise awareness about the harmful effects of smoking and to reduce tobacco consumption.
- Health Education and Awareness: Initiatives were undertaken to raise public awareness about health issues and promote healthy lifestyles. Health education campaigns aimed to educate the public about diseases and preventive measures.
- Telemedicine and E-Health: The use of telemedicine and electronic health records (EHRs) began to gain traction during this period, facilitating remote healthcare consultations and improving healthcare data management.
Challenges in Health Reforms:
- Resource Constraints: The government faced resource constraints, including limited funding for healthcare initiatives, which often hindered the implementation of comprehensive healthcare reforms.
- Healthcare Disparities: Disparities in healthcare access and quality persisted between urban and rural areas, with rural populations facing greater challenges in accessing healthcare services.
- Shortages of Healthcare Workers: Pakistan continued to face shortages of qualified healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff, which affected the quality of healthcare delivery.
- Infectious Diseases and Outbreaks: Pakistan faced outbreaks of infectious diseases such as dengue fever and hepatitis during this period, posing public health challenges.
- Malnutrition: Malnutrition, particularly among children, remained a significant health issue, with long-term implications for child development and overall health.
- Healthcare Governance: Governance and administrative issues, including bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption in the healthcare sector, were persistent challenges that affected the government’s ability to deliver services effectively.
Overall, while there were efforts to reform and improve the healthcare system in Pakistan during the PML-N government’s tenure, numerous challenges persisted. Healthcare reforms require sustained efforts, resources, and a comprehensive approach to address the complex issues affecting healthcare access, quality, and outcomes in the country.
Educational Reforms, Progress and Challenges
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, several educational reforms were initiated, and the country witnessed both progress and challenges in the education sector. Here are some of the key educational reforms, progress, and challenges during this period:
Educational Reforms and Progress:
- Curriculum Revisions: Revisions were made to the curriculum to ensure that it was more relevant, up-to-date, and aligned with international standards. These reforms aimed to improve the quality of education and provide students with a more comprehensive and modernized curriculum.
- Teacher Training and Recruitment: The government launched teacher training programs to improve the quality of teaching in schools. Efforts were also made to recruit qualified teachers to fill vacancies in educational institutions.
- Education Management Information System (EMIS): The government worked on establishing an Education Management Information System to gather data on schools, students, and teachers, helping in better education planning and monitoring.
- Female Education: Special initiatives were launched to promote female education, including scholarships and incentives for girls to attend school. The aim was to address the gender disparity in education and increase female enrollment.
- Textbook Distribution: Efforts were made to ensure the timely distribution of free or subsidized textbooks to students, particularly in rural areas. Access to textbooks is crucial for students to continue their education.
- Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs): The government explored partnerships with the private sector to improve the quality and accessibility of education. Private schools and institutions played a significant role in expanding educational opportunities.
- Higher Education Reforms: Reforms in higher education included increased funding for universities, the establishment of new universities, and efforts to improve research and academic standards. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) continued to play a key role in regulating higher education.
- Technical and Vocational Education: Initiatives were taken to promote technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to address the skills gap and provide youth with employable skills.
- Education for All (EFA) Goals: Pakistan continued to work toward achieving the Education for All (EFA) goals, with a focus on improving literacy rates and enrollment in primary education.
- Quality of Education: Despite reforms, the overall quality of education remained a concern, with issues such as outdated teaching methods, poorly trained teachers, and inadequate infrastructure affecting the learning experience.
- Access to Education: Access to education, particularly in remote and underserved areas, remained a challenge. Some children, especially girls, continued to face barriers to accessing education.
- Funding Constraints: Education funding remained insufficient to meet the growing demand for quality education and to address the infrastructure and staffing needs of educational institutions.
- Regional Disparities: Disparities in educational access and quality persisted between urban and rural areas and among different provinces in Pakistan. Balochistan and some other regions faced particular challenges in this regard.
- Curriculum Implementation: While curriculum reforms were introduced, the effective implementation of the revised curriculum at the grassroots level remained a challenge.
- Standardized Testing: The system of standardized testing and examinations continued to face criticism for its emphasis on rote learning and limited focus on critical thinking and practical skills.
- Security Concerns: Security challenges in some regions of Pakistan affected the operation of educational institutions, leading to disruptions in the education system and a climate of fear among students and teachers.
Educational reforms are a long-term endeavor, and addressing these challenges requires sustained efforts, adequate resources, and a commitment to improving the quality and accessibility of education for all Pakistanis.
Water Reforms, Progress and challenges
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, the country faced various challenges related to water management, including issues of water scarcity, access to clean drinking water, and water infrastructure. Here are some of the key water reforms, progress, and challenges during this period:
Water Reforms and Progress:
- Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Other Water Projects: The government initiated various water infrastructure projects, including the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, which aimed to address water storage and hydroelectric power generation needs. Other projects included small and medium-sized dams and reservoirs.
- National Water Policy 2018: The government formulated and approved the National Water Policy in 2018, which provided a framework for addressing water-related challenges, improving water governance, and enhancing water resource management.
- Safe Drinking Water Programs: Efforts were made to provide access to safe drinking water, particularly in rural and underserved areas. The installation of hand pumps and the improvement of water supply systems were part of these programs.
- Irrigation and Agriculture: The government invested in the rehabilitation and modernization of irrigation infrastructure to enhance agricultural productivity, which is a significant water user in Pakistan.
- Water Scarcity: Pakistan continued to face significant water scarcity, with a growing gap between water supply and demand. Climate change, population growth, and inefficient water use exacerbated this problem.
- Access to Clean Drinking Water: Many communities, especially in rural areas, lacked access to clean and safe drinking water. Waterborne diseases remained a public health concern due to the lack of access to potable water sources.
- Water Pollution: Pollution of rivers and water bodies remained a significant issue, affecting water quality and posing risks to aquatic ecosystems and human health.
- Transboundary Water Issues: Disputes over transboundary rivers, particularly with India, continued to be a source of tension and conflict. The Indus Waters Treaty remained a focal point for negotiations and disagreements.
- Legal and Institutional Challenges: Complex water governance and regulatory structures, overlapping jurisdiction, and coordination issues among federal and provincial authorities hindered effective water management.
- Agricultural Water Use: Agriculture consumed a significant portion of Pakistan’s water resources, and inefficient irrigation practices persisted. Modernizing agriculture and improving water-use efficiency remained a challenge.
- Climate Change Impact: Changing weather patterns, including reduced glacier meltwater and irregular monsoon rains, affected water availability and resource management.
- Dams Financing: Financing and securing funding for large-scale dam projects like the Diamer-Bhasha Dam posed challenges, as these projects require significant investments.
Addressing Pakistan’s water challenges requires a multifaceted approach, including sustainable water management practices, investments in water infrastructure, improved water governance, and cooperation on transboundary water issues. These challenges are complex and interconnected and require long-term planning and coordinated efforts at the federal, provincial, and local levels, as well as cooperation with neighboring countrie
Climate change reforms, progress and challenges
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, Pakistan faced significant challenges related to climate change. The country witnessed both efforts to address climate change and challenges associated with its impacts. Here are some of the key climate change reforms, progress, and challenges during this period:
Climate Change Reforms and Progress:
- Climate Change Policy Framework: Pakistan developed a comprehensive National Climate Change Policy in 2012, which provided a framework for addressing climate change challenges and promoting sustainable development.
- Climate Change Ministry: The government established a dedicated Ministry of Climate Change to coordinate and implement climate-related policies and initiatives.
- Adaptation and Resilience: Pakistan developed a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to enhance resilience to climate change impacts, particularly in vulnerable sectors such as agriculture and water resources.
- Renewable Energy: The government promoted renewable energy sources, including wind and solar power, as part of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diversify the energy mix.
- Reforestation and Afforestation: Initiatives were launched to promote tree planting, reforestation, and afforestation to enhance carbon sequestration and combat deforestation.
- International Climate Agreements: Pakistan participated in international climate agreements, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement. The country submitted its climate action plans (Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) to the UNFCCC.
Climate Change Challenges:
- Extreme Weather Events: Pakistan continued to face a series of extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, and heatwaves, which caused significant damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and human lives.
- Water Scarcity: Changes in precipitation patterns, glacial meltwater, and increased demand for water due to population growth led to water scarcity in various regions. This had significant implications for agriculture, a major sector of the economy.
- Glacial Melting: Pakistan’s glaciers in the Himalayas and Karakoram ranges continued to shrink due to rising temperatures, affecting water availability in rivers and posing long-term water resource challenges.
- Agricultural Challenges: Erratic weather patterns and water scarcity affected agriculture, leading to reduced crop yields and food security concerns. Farmers faced challenges in adapting to changing climate conditions.
- Health Impacts: Climate change-related health impacts, including the spread of vector-borne diseases, heat stress, and malnutrition, posed significant public health challenges.
- Transboundary Water Issues: Disputes over transboundary rivers, particularly with India, affected water resource management and increased regional tensions.
- Resource Constraints: Limited financial and technical resources hindered the implementation of climate adaptation and mitigation measures.
- Climate Education and Awareness: Raising public awareness about climate change and promoting climate education remained a challenge, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
Addressing climate change challenges in Pakistan is a complex and multifaceted task that requires concerted efforts at the national and international levels. The impacts of climate change have continued to evolve, and the government’s response requires sustained commitment, resource allocation, and international cooperation to mitigate its effects and adapt to the changing climate.
Energy reforms, progress and challenges
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, the country faced significant challenges in the energy sector, including power generation and distribution. Efforts were made to address these challenges through various energy reforms, but significant progress and challenges persisted. Here are some of the key energy reforms, progress, and challenges during this period:
Energy Reforms and Progress:
- Power Generation Projects: The government initiated several power generation projects, including coal-fired, hydroelectric, and solar power plants, to address the chronic energy shortages in Pakistan. Notable projects included the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant and the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project.
- China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): The government entered into agreements with China to invest in energy infrastructure as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This included the development of energy projects such as the Port Qasim Coal Power Plant and the Hub Power Plant.
- LNG Imports: Pakistan imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) to diversify its energy sources and reduce reliance on expensive oil-based power generation.
- Energy Efficiency Initiatives: Energy efficiency measures were introduced to reduce power losses in the transmission and distribution systems and improve the overall efficiency of the energy sector.
- Tariff Rationalization: Efforts were made to rationalize energy tariffs to address the issue of circular debt and reduce subsidies on electricity and gas.
- Circular Debt: Pakistan continued to face a significant circular debt problem in the energy sector, with outstanding payments to power producers and distribution companies. This debt issue strained the financial health of the energy sector and affected its sustainability.
- Load Shedding: Despite efforts to increase power generation, load shedding (rolling blackouts) remained a persistent issue in some parts of the country, impacting businesses and daily life.
- Infrastructure Deficiencies: Aging and inadequate infrastructure, including transmission and distribution systems, contributed to power losses, inefficiencies, and challenges in meeting electricity demand.
- Energy Theft: Energy theft and non-payment of electricity bills remained a widespread problem, affecting the revenue collection of power distribution companies.
- Policy and Regulatory Challenges: The energy sector faced policy and regulatory challenges, including issues related to tariff setting, pricing mechanisms, and regulatory oversight.
- Financial Constraints: The financial constraints of the government limited its ability to invest in critical energy infrastructure and address circular debt effectively.
- Environmental Concerns: The expansion of coal-based power generation raised environmental concerns due to air pollution and carbon emissions.
- Natural Gas Shortages: Natural gas shortages continued to affect industries and households, leading to challenges in providing a reliable supply of this energy source.
- Energy Sector Governance: Issues related to governance, transparency, and accountability in the energy sector needed to be addressed to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness.
Addressing Pakistan’s energy challenges requires a holistic approach, including financial restructuring, improvements in infrastructure and governance, diversified energy sources, and measures to reduce energy losses and theft. These challenges are interconnected and require long-term planning and sustained efforts to achieve a stable and efficient energy sector.
Foreign Relations progress and challenges, terms with neighboring countries
During the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government’s tenure from 2013 to 2018, Pakistan faced various foreign relations challenges and made efforts to improve its ties with neighboring countries. Here’s an overview of the progress and challenges in terms of Pakistan’s foreign relations with neighboring countries during this period:
- Progress: Pakistan’s relationship with China strengthened significantly during this period, primarily due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major infrastructure and economic development project. China became Pakistan’s close economic and strategic partner, providing financial assistance and investment.
- Challenges: There were concerns about the terms and conditions of CPEC loans and their impact on Pakistan’s debt burden. Balancing the relationship with China and ensuring that it benefited Pakistan economically remained a challenge.
- Challenges: Relations with India remained strained due to ongoing disputes, particularly over Kashmir. Despite some diplomatic efforts to engage in dialogue and reduce tensions, there were continued cross-border incidents and political disagreements.
- Progress: Pakistan sought to improve its relationship with Afghanistan, particularly after the formation of the National Unity Government in Afghanistan. Efforts were made to facilitate peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
- Challenges: Security challenges and allegations of cross-border support for militant groups strained relations at times. The Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the Durand Line, remained a contentious issue.
- Progress: Pakistan maintained a generally stable relationship with Iran, with cooperation on various regional and economic issues. Both countries collaborated on infrastructure projects such as the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
- Challenges: Despite cooperation, there were occasional tensions, particularly related to border security and regional dynamics.
- Progress: Pakistan maintained strong ties with Saudi Arabia, which included economic support and diplomatic cooperation on regional issues. Pakistan’s military provided training and assistance to Saudi forces.
- Challenges: Pakistan faced challenges in balancing its relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, particularly regarding regional conflicts such as the Yemeni civil war.
- Progress: Pakistan continued to maintain a relationship with the United States, albeit with periods of tension. The U.S. provided military and economic assistance to Pakistan, and there were efforts to cooperate on counterterrorism efforts.
- Challenges: Tensions between Pakistan and the U.S. arose at times, particularly over issues such as counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and concerns about Pakistan’s role in combating terrorism.
Progress in Relations with Russia:
- Diplomatic Engagement: The PML-N government actively pursued diplomatic engagement with Russia. High-level visits took place between the two countries, including visits by the Russian foreign minister and other officials.
- Military Cooperation: Pakistan and Russia engaged in military cooperation, including joint military exercises. This marked a significant shift from the Cold War-era when Pakistan was aligned with the United States, and Russia had closer ties with India.
- Economic Ties: Economic ties between Pakistan and Russia saw some improvement, with discussions on trade and investment. Both countries explored opportunities for collaboration in various sectors, including energy and defense.
- Regional Stability: Both Pakistan and Russia shared an interest in regional stability, particularly in Afghanistan. They engaged in discussions on the Afghan peace process and the broader regional security situation.
- Counterterrorism: Pakistan and Russia cooperated on counterterrorism efforts and shared concerns about the spread of extremism and terrorism in the region.
Challenges in Relations with Russia:
- Historical Context: Historical mistrust and Cold War-era rivalries had previously strained relations between Pakistan and Russia. Overcoming this historical baggage required cautious diplomacy.
- Complex Regional Dynamics: The evolving dynamics in South Asia and the broader region, including the Afghan conflict, regional rivalries, and alliances, posed challenges in terms of aligning interests and maintaining a balanced approach.
- Economic Integration: While there were discussions on economic cooperation, the actual progress in terms of trade and investment between Pakistan and Russia remained modest during this period.
Overall, during the PML-N government’s tenure, Pakistan made efforts to strengthen ties with China, improve relations with Afghanistan, and maintain its relationships with key regional players. However, challenges persisted, including disputes with India and security concerns related to Afghanistan. The balancing act between various neighboring countries and managing regional tensions remained a complex diplomatic challenge for Pakistan during this period.