The Muslims of the sub-continent demanded a separate homeland where they could spend their lives according to the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW). Holy Quran had made it clear that, The Believers are naught else than brothers. Therefore make peace between brethren…. Allama Iqbal, in Allahbad address, stressing on the unity of Muslims said that Islam has always come to the help of the Muslims and that the Muslims had not defended Islam. If the Muslims would look up to Islam, their disunited and scattered powers would again be united.
The Muslims of the sub-continent wanted Pakistan to be a state, which could provide leadership to the Muslim world. In April 1943, while explaining the creed of Pakistan to Shaukat Hyat Khan, Quaid-i-Azam said,
“Pakistan would be a base where we will be able to train and bring up Muslim intellectuals, educationists, economists, scientists, doctors, engineers, technicians, etc. who will work to bring about Islamic renaissance. After necessary training, they would spread to other parts of the Islamic world to serve their co-religionists and create awakening among them eventually resulting in the creation of a solid, cohesive bloc – a third bloc – which will be neither communistic nor capitalistic but truly socialistic based on the principles which characterized caliph Umar regime.”
It was not possible for such an ideological state to set aside its ideology while framing its foreign policy. Thus Pakistan from the very first day started working for good relations with the Muslim world. Unity of Ummah, from the outset has been a corner stone of the foreign policy of Pakistan. As early as in 1948, while delivering a message on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, Quaid-i-Azam advised:
“My Eid message to our brother Muslim states is one of friendship and goodwill. We are all passing through perilous times. The drama of power politics that is being staged in Palestine, Indonesia and Kashmir should serve an eye opener to us. It is only by putting up a united front that we can make our voice felt in the council of the world.”
Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, while describing the main motive behind the creation of Pakistan declared:
“The underlying idea of the movement for the achievement of Pakistan was not just to add one more country to the conglomeration of countries in the world, or to add one more patch of color to the multicolored global map. Pakistan came into being as a result of the urge felt by the Muslims of this sub-continent to secure territory, however limited, where the Islamic Ideology and way of life could be practiced and demonstrated to the world. A cardinal feature of this ideology is to make Muslim brotherhood a living reality. It is, therefore, part of the mission which Pakistan has set before itself to do everything in its power to promote closer fellowship and cooperation between Muslim countries.”
In the realm of foreign policy Ideology of Pakistan means the endeavor to strengthen the bonds of Unity among the Muslim States. The ideal has deep roots in the history of the Muslims of South Asia. Right from the beginning the source of inspiration of the Muslims of South Asia was Islam and they looked for support and strength towards their co-religionists living in the lands of the Muslim World. This historical experience gave birth to Ummah Spirit and the desire to have close relations with the Muslim World.
Even during the days of their struggle against the Hindus and the British, the Muslims of South Asia did not forget their Muslim brothers living in other parts of the world. The Khilafat movement launched by the Muslims of the South Asia after the defeat of Turkey in the 1st World War is its good example. The demands of the Khilafat movement were the restoration of the Ottoman empire and the institution of Khilafat along with the protection of the Holy places of the Muslims. During the movement, the Muslims of the sub-continent sacrificed their lives and properties. They were also concerned about the situation in Palestine. Between 1933 and 1946 the Muslim League passed eighteen resolutions in support of the Muslims of Palestine.
Just after getting independence, Pakistan tried to develop close relation with the Muslim states and took steps to bring unity among them. In October 1947, Quaid-i-Azam sent Malik Feroz Khan Noon, as his special envoy to some countries of the Muslim World. This one-man delegation was the first official mission sent abroad by the Government of Pakistan. The aim of the mission was to introduce Pakistan, to explain the reasons of its creation, to familiarize them with its internal problems and to get their support.
Soon after independence, Pakistan appointed six representatives abroad out of, which three were sent to the Muslim countries, i.e. Afghanistan, Iran and Egypt. By the end of 1948, Pakistan had established diplomatic relations with almost all the Muslim countries of the world. Pakistan also gave complete moral support to the Muslims who were struggling for their independence in different parts of the world.
The first foreign policy issue which engaged the attention of the newly born dominion of Pakistan was the Palestine question which had come before the UN General Assembly in April 1947. Pakistan took the position that the Balfour Declaration and the mandate of the League of Nations were contrary to the wishes of the Palestinians and in disregard of the pledges of independence given to the Arabs. Pakistan suggested that the UN should strive to find a solution, which would be in accordance with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned. Pakistan opposed the partition of Palestine and warned the UN that, The partition of Palestine might provoke a conflict which the UN might find difficult to contain.
Pakistan supported Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria in their struggle for independence and gave them all possible support in the United Nations. Pakistan tried to develop good relations with Iran, Turkey and Indonesia. But, inspite of its efforts to remove the misunderstanding on the issue of Durand line, Pakistan failed to develop cordial relations with the Muslim neighboring state of Afghanistan.
In February 1949 a World Muslim Congress was held in Karachi which decided to revive the Motamar Al Alam Al Islamic, which had been set up in Makkah in 1926 and to reconvene a conference on a bigger scale in February 1951. Later in the conference of 1951, a resolution was adopted that declared aggression against any Muslim country to be treated as aggression against the entire world of Islam. It was also decided that the Headquarters of the Motamar would be in Karachi, Pakistan.
Pakistan made the first serious attempt to establish a comprehensive institutional mechanism in order to forge close cooperation among Islamic states in the economic field. Pakistani Industrialists and businessmen, with the support and patronage of their government, convened an international Islamic economic conference at Karachi from November 26, 1949 to December 10, 1949. The conference was attended by officials, industrialists and businessmen from different Muslim countries.
The conference decided to set up a permanent International Islamic Economic Organization ( I.I.E.O.). The aims of the proposed organization were to develop trade, commerce, industry, mining, banking, insurance, communication and other forms of economic activities in the Islamic world. It also aimed at raising the living standards and enhance the national prosperity of the people of the Muslim world. The attempt failed due to lack of interest of the member states and resentment by Egypt. In 1952, Pakistan made another unsuccessful attempt in this direction when she tried to convene a Muslim Summit Conference to study ways and means of evolving a system of consultation.
During 1950 Pakistan took many initiatives at the UN in favour of independence of those Muslim countries which were still under European colonial domination. Pakistan supported the cause of Indonesia at the UN and in the conference of Asian and Australian countries held in 1949 at Delhi. Khawaja Nazimuddin, who succeeded Liaquat Ali Khan as Prime Minister said, Islam is a body, pain inflicted on any part of the body gives pain and anguish to the whole body. Still the response of the majority of the Muslim countries was not positive and thus Pakistan failed to achieve its goal of the unity of Muslim Ummah.
Due to the series of failure in its attempts, Pakistan was highly disappointed and finally abandoned the idea of bringing the Muslim states on common economic and political platform. With that the Islamic over emphasis in Pakistan foreign policy was toned down. However, Pakistan was not ready to give up the fundamental principle of its foreign policy. It adopted a policy within a general frame of the international community giving priority to bilateral relations with the Muslim states.
In early 1950 Pakistan decided to join the Western camp because the other option, i.e. USSR, was not ready to supply arms to any non-communist country. Moreover Pakistan emphasis on religion was in direct ideological conflict with the anti-religion policy of the Soviet Union. Hence Pakistan gradually drifted towards the West and became the most allied ally of USA.
Baghdad Pact / CENTO was opposed by the Arab countries and Pakistan by joining the pact strained its relations particularly with Egypt. The mishandling of the situation during the Suez Canal crises adversely effected the credibility of Pakistan in the Arab World. However by joining the Baghdad Pact Pakistan got the required military assistance and came closer to Turkey and Iran. The two countries proved to be the best of the friends of Pakistan and helped it in the times of peace as well as war.
During the days of Ayub Khan, Pakistan adopted a policy of developing good relations with the Muslim countries on bilateral basis. Pakistan made efforts to remove its differences with the Arab countries. The relations between Pakistan and Egypt normalized. During the 1967 Arab-Israel war, Pakistan succeeded in removing misunderstandings and instilling the feeling of solidarity. Pakistan strongly condemned the Israeli aggression. Apart from the public sympathy in Pakistan, the country gave diplomatic support to the Arabs and played a positive role in UN. Two resolutions, condemning Israel, submitted by Pakistan were adopted on July 4 and July 14, by a vast majority in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Pakistan also condemned the 1969 Israeli aggressive design to desecrate Masjid Al-Aqsa and offered the Arab Muslims its complete support. This unstilted support of Pakistan made a positive impact on the people and government of the Arab countries and was reciprocated by them.
Pakistan made attempts to develop close relations with Iran and Turkey in the Socio-economic field. On the initiative of the president of Pakistan the three Muslim members of the CENTO decided to form a new organization. The Presidents of Pakistan and Turkey and the Shah of Iran met at Istanbul and Regional Co-operation for Development (RCD) was launched on July 22, 1964. Pakistan tried to involve Afghanistan in the organization but all its efforts failed. The main aim of the organization was to develop cultural and economic ties between the three Muslim countries of the same geographical region. Inspite of its limitations, RCD brought Pakistan closer to Turkey and Iran and it was considered a step forward towards the unity of the Muslim world.
Pakistan also developed good ties with Indonesia. In September 1964, the two Islamic countries signed a pact for economic and cultural co-operation. The basic purpose of this pact was to promote co-operation in the economic and cultural fields on the lines of RCD pact. Apart from the ideological factor, the reasons for the promotion of relations between the two countries were the beginning of Indonesia tension with India and the start of Pakistan good relations with China. Indonesia and China were already good friends.
The policies adopted by the foreign policy makers of Pakistan towards the Muslim countries in 1960 paid its dividends. During the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, all the Arab countries gave moral support to Pakistan. Egypt was the only exception, who remained neutral. Brotherly countries like Indonesia, Turkey and Iran also gave material support to Pakistan during the war.
The burning of Al-Aqsa Masjid on August 21, 1969 sent a wave of indignation throughout the Muslim world including Pakistan. On the initiative of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Muslim countries of the world decided to hold a Summit. Thus the idea of holding a conference of the Muslim heads of the states, which was proposed by Pakistan in 1952 was finally implemented after the delay of seventeen years.
The first Islamic Conference was held at Rabat from September 22 to September 25, 1969. Pakistan took an active part in the proceedings of the Summit and preparation of its Final Declaration which inter-alia pledged full support of the Muslim world for the liberation of Palestine, demanded the restoration of Jerusalem as well as the occupied Arab territory to the pre-June 1967 status. The Conference, However, did not call upon, as proposed by some of the participants, to resort to diplomatic and economic boycott of Israel.
After the separation of East Pakistan in 1971, Pakistan tried to cultivate close relations with the Islamic World and China and tried to maintain an equidistant relationship with the superpowers. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the president of Pakistan made a whirlwind tour of twenty countries, including many Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa and tried to develop cordial relations with them. These visits were successful in many ways. Pakistan not only strengthened bilateral relations but also obtained moral support from these countries. When the war broke out between Turkey and Greece, on Cyprus issue, Pakistan openly sided with Turkey and gave her moral and material support that was within her ability.
Pakistan tried to strengthen ties with the countries of the Arab World. New avenues were explored for economic and technical co-operation between Pakistan and the Arab countries. On the outbreak of the Arab-Israel War in October 1973, Pakistan openly sided with the Arabs and condemned Israel. Pakistan called for immediate implementation of the UN resolution 242 of 1967 and restoration of the legitimate rights of the people of Palestine. Pakistan also sent two medical teams comprising of doctors and male nurses to Egypt and Syria. The Prime Minister visited Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to discuss the Middle East situation. Pakistan also supported the Arabs on their imposition of oil embargo. Apart from RCD countries Pakistan developed economic co-operation and collaboration with UAE. Pakistan relations with Libya also gained impetus.
Holding of the Second Islamic Summit Conference under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Conference at Lahore from February 22, to February 24, 1974 was a landmark in the history of Pakistan relations with the Muslim countries. Not only all the 30 invited states attended the conference but some new members also joined it, bringing the total number of participants to thirty-eight. The Lahore summit recognized P.L.O. as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestine nation. P.L.O was admitted as a full member of the OIC.
In his address to the Conference, Pakistan Prime Minister declared that Pakistan support for the just causes of the Muslim world is organically related to its own national vocation and Pakistan had never suffered a severance between its national impulse and the urges of Muslim emancipation. The Prime Minister reminded the Islamic states of their commitment, as enshrined in the OIC Charter, pertaining to the restitution of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The conference unanimously adopted a resolution, urging the vacation of occupied Arab territories by Israel, return of Al-Quds to the Arabs and restitution of the national rights of the Palestinian people. The Summit portrayed and strengthened Pakistan positive image in the Muslim world.
During the Summit, Pakistan recognized Bangladesh as an independent country. Prime Minister of Pakistan paid a visit to Bangladesh in June 1974 and tried to establish friendly and mutually advantageous relations with the new country.
When Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan, Pakistan forgot its old tense relations with the neighboring Muslim country. Motivated by security needs coupled with ideological affinity, Pakistan decided to support the Mujahideen, who had declared Jihad against the Soviets. Pakistan had two options i.e. either to fight a war by proxy in Afghanistan or to face the Soviet forces directly in the years to come. Pakistan opted for the former. Pakistan provided military assistance to the Mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan and gave refuge to the thousands of Afghan brothers and sister who were passing through the worst period in their history. Some Pakistanis, voluntarily fought shoulder by shoulder with their Afghan brothers in the Jihad. Some of them lost their lives and many others lost their limbs.
The 1979, revolution in Iran greatly affected the relations between the two brethren Islamic states. Although Pakistan was the first county to recognize the revolutionary government in Iran yet the relations between the two countries suffered a set back during the early phase of the post revolutionary Iran. They took divergent stands on various issues. Both states faced a variety of actual and potential friction points. The foreign policy of both underwent a tremendous change in the post revolution period. Pakistan was apprehensive of the Iranian intention to export revolution to Pakistan and the Muslim world in general. Iran considered Pakistan as the ally of the US, which was conceived by Iran as their greatest enemy.
However, this low mark in relations between Pakistan and Iran was short lived and over the years Pakistan and the revolutionary Iran managed to accommodate each other deferentially and reestablished cooperation in areas of common interests. In July, 1981, the speaker of the Iranian Majlis, Hashimi Rafsanjani said that, What is better for the two Islamic countries than being together. Both the countries remained the chief supporters of the Afghan Mujahideen.
On Iran-Iraq war, Pakistan maintained the policy of neutrality and tried its best to bridge the gulf between the two Muslim states. Pakistan tried to solve the problem on the platform of OIC. Zia-ul-Haq, the president of Pakistan, undertook good-will peace missions to Tehran and Baghdad, in 1980. He tried to convince their policy makers that they should stop the war immediately in the better interest of Ummah. After that Pakistan also made several efforts bilaterally and within the framework of the Islamic Peace Committee of the OIC to bring this fratricidal conflict to an end.
Pakistan kept on working for the unity of the Muslim world. The Eleventh Islamic conference of Foreign Ministers was held in Islamabad from 17th to 22nd May, 1980. On the initiative of Pakistan the conference adopted a resolution according to which the security of each Muslim country was described to be the concern of all Islamic countries.
President Zia-ul-Haq undertook visits of many Muslim countries to promote the relations. Pakistan vocally supported the Arabs on the Palestine issue and the Turks on their dispute over Cyprus with Greece. Pakistan kept on enjoying close tries with Turkey and Saudi Arabia. However, Pakistan relations with Syria and Libya suffered a setback.
Pakistan got the honor of representing the Muslim world in the United Nations on the beginning of the 15th century Hijra. President Zia-ul-Haq made a speech before the 35th session of the United Nations General Assembly on October 1, 1980. In his speech he presented the golden principles of Islam before the world. He made it clear that Islam is the religion of peace and Jihad is enjoined upon Muslims to fight for the sake of Allah to establish and maintain justice, equality and peace. He, in his address, requested the world to work for the peace in Afghanistan, Palestine and a truce between Iran and Iraq. In making reference to the sermon, the Holy Prophet (SAW) delivered on the occasion of his last Haj, the president of Pakistan assured the world that the Muslims ought to be the custodians of equality and the protection of Human Rights throughout the world.
A delegation, under president, Zia-ul-Haq, represented Pakistan in the third Islamic Conference held at Makkah and Taif in January 1981. Zia-ul-Haq speech as the outgoing chairman of OIC, was thought provoking and reflected Pakistan stand on different political and international issues faced by the entire Muslim Ummah and her concern for the Muslim Unity. He put forward his proposal of the identification of the Ummah as a separate entity, which will make it distinct from the power blocks of the East or the West. He stressed on the differences among the Muslim countries and setting up of institutional framework for promoting cooperation in the economic field. He also suggested for a common defense of the Muslim world and for the increase of corporation in the scientific and technological fields. He also asked to the Muslim community to find ways for continuing the intellectual and cultural renaissance, which once stirred the Muslims throughout the world into creative pursuits. President of Pakistan, particularly talked about Iran-Iraq war, Situation in Afghanistan and the problems of Muslims in Kashmir and Palestine.
Pakistan participated in the drafting of the historic Makkah Declaration adopted by the summit which stated the resolve of the Islamic states to defend their independence, security, honor and dignity and to promote the socio-economic development and cultural revival of the Islamic Ummah. The Summit adopted a number of historic decisions pertaining to the strengthening and deepening of mutually beneficial contacts and cooperation among the Islamic states.
President of Pakistan also participated in the fourth and fifth Islamic Summits held in January 1984 and January 1987 at Casablanca and Kuwait respectively. During the two Summits, Pakistan continued its stress for establishing close relations and cooperation among the Muslim countries in different fields. During the Casablanca Summit Pakistan announced the initial contribution of one million dollars to the 25 million dollars program for undertaking feasibility studies of the identified projects.
The delegates of the Kuwait Summit paid rich tributes to President Zia-ul-Haq for his forthright, bold and straight-forward analysis of the problems faced by the Ummah. They said that the President of Pakistan had voiced the feelings of all the Muslims by urging the Summit to face the challenges with determination and political will. His deep concern over the tragedies in Afghanistan, Middle East and Gulf, reflected the anguish of the Muslims over the world.
During the Gulf war, Pakistan was in a dilemma. While the public sympathies were with Iraq, the government followed a pro West policy. However, Pakistan did not involve itself directly in the conflict and remained contented with sending troops to Saudi Arabia which remained away from the main theater of the war. Pakistan had also proposed a commission under the lead of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan to solve the problem. This luke warm attitude didnot please the West although the government had to face criticism within the country.
In case of Afghanistan, Pakistan has abandoned its role as active participant and left the issue to be decided by the United Nations. The efforts made to alleviate differences between the hostile Afghan factions were half hearted and Pakistan failed to implement Islamabad and Peshawar accords.
Pakistan government has practically stopped military assistance to Kashmir Mujahideen and has limited itself to diplomatic and verbal support. The Kashmir problem has been presented more as an issue of the violation of Human Rights rather than the incomplete agenda of the partition of the sub-continent and denial of the right of self determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The growing economic relations between Pakistan and India have adversely affected the morale of Kashmiries and once again shows the difference between the government policy and public opinion.
Pakistan has also run in trouble with Iran. Besides differences on Afghanistan the two traditional brotherly states have divergent views on the New World Order. Iran is not prepared to give the United States veto on the issues like human rights while Pakistan is endorsing the American moves. Iran is developing close economic relations with India. Secretarian problems in Pakistan are also widening the gulf between the two brotherly Muslim states.
Pakistan aspirations to have close cultural and economic ties with newly independent Central Asian states is facing a number of problems. Unrest in Afghanistan has obstructed the main trade route between the two regions. Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which aimed at the economic cooperation between the six Central Asian States, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, has not been able to take off and its plans remain only on paper.
To conclude, Pakistan desire for Muslim Unity and to maintain closer relations with the Islamic countries is based on shared values of culture and history and are nourished by a common faith and spiritual heritage. These ties have continued to expand and worked as a central pillar of her foreign policy. Pakistan has made consistent efforts to promote solidarity among the Islamic Ummah and for the advancement of Islamic causes. Though the ideological factor was ignored while framing policy during the Suez Crises and the Gulf War, yet Pakistan has by and large made efforts to develop close and brotherly relations with the Muslim world. The sincerity of Pakistan to bring the Muslim world closer is witnessed by its efforts to establish organizations like International Islamic Economic Organization, Mutamir Al Alam Al Islami, Rabitah Al Alam Al Islami, Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) etc. The second Islamic summit held at Lahore in 1974 is an other example of Pakistan efforts to try for the unity of the Ummah.
All the three constitutions of Pakistan stressed on the good relations with the Muslim world. Article 24 of the 1956 Constitution provided that the State should endeavor to strengthen the bond of unity among Muslim countries. Article 21 of the 1962 Constitution provided that the bonds of unity among Muslim countries should be ensured. In the 1973 constitution, Article 40 inter-alia lays down a principle of policy that the state shall endeavor to preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic unity.
A study of the 50 years of Pakistan foreign policy shows that its ideological aspect has been an integral part of the political culture of Pakistan and a cherished goal of the state. As and when the government due to its weakness or international pressure was forced to deviate from this line, the public opinion stood in its way. This internal pressure once led to change of the government itself, e.g. during the Suez Crises, and often change of its policy.
Since the demise of the U.S.S.R, a new-world order is emerging which has given the United States immense influence in international politics. The United States is trying to impose its own brand of new-world order and Pakistan like most of the third world countries is under pressure to accept it. The political instability since mid eighties has further weakened the position of Pakistan. The situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan relations with Iran, weak policies on Kashmir, Palestine and Cyprus are some of its manifestations.
It may be reiterated that it is not the lack of faith in ideology, which is responsible for the wavering of Pakistan. In fact ideology has and is likely to remain an important factor in determining foreign policy of Pakistan. As She attains internal stability, there is very likelihood that the ideological factor will regain its importance in its foreign policy making. If the new-world order will be based on the thesis propounded by Sameul P. Huntington in his article Clash of civilizations, then Islam is bound to play the most decisive factor in the ideological oriented foreign policy of Pakistan.