Book

Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: A Reappraisal

Tragic Heroism

By Nadya Chishty-Mujahid | April 2021

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Senior and seasoned retired ambassador Shahid Amin revamps the first edition of his book on Pakistani foreign policy in this reissued third edition, published over twenty years after the book’s first release. He reproduces the introduction to the first edition, which is juxtaposed alongside a new introduction which summarizes that Pakistani diplomats in spite of facing many challenges and hurdles have, in aggregate, done a fairly sound job of consolidating the country’s position on the geopolitical stage. The book is a joy to read because of Amin’s superb writing skills and his considerable experience (to say the least) in handling matters such as the complex tensions between India and Pakistan, among other things. His views on the Soviet Union, particularly its presence in Afghanistan, comments on the Taliban, as well as his immense respect for the vision of the great M A Jinnah, are remarkably well-delineated and expressed in an opinionated but thoroughly informed manner. Amin served as ambassador to numerous important countries including, but not limited to, Nigeria, France and the Soviet Union. There are few authorities better placed to provide a balanced view of the history and potential future of the vexed Kashmir issue.

Pakistan’s relations with India make up a substantial portion of the text; this is hardly surprising, since the country’s very creation involved a relinquishing of Indian soil that India took very much to heart. But Amin notes that Jinnah was implacable in his intent that a separate homeland be created for the Muslims. In this matter he does not prescribe to the thesis propounded by other scholars that Jinnah did not want Pakistan: according to Amin, he did, and it was not simply created but has survived for over seven decades. He stresses Jinnah’s strong sense of ethics regarding matters of Partition: for example, Jinnah resolutely refused a clandestine deal whereby India would retain Kashmir and Pakistan would be granted Hyderabad. Amin shoots down the Indian argument that there was no need for Pakistan to be created since the two peoples share many commonalities of culture, cusine and dress. He underscores that the oppression of Muslims at the hands of a Hindu minority left Jinnah and the Muslim League (and ultimately even Lord Mountbatten) with no choice but to create a separate state, ‘moth-eaten’ though its divisions may ultimately have been.

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