That the Nawaz setup is sincerely intent on looking to the yet unexplored niches on the foreign policy front comes as breath of fresh air. Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s recent visit to Pakistan, which materialised after Prime Minister Nawaz’s invitation reflects a regional approach worthy of appreciation.
The visit would go a long way in further allowing both nations to warm up the bond of ties, whose origins go as far back in time as the Buddhist Gandhara period. People to people contacts and other cultural ties are very much underway; Thailand is a tourist attraction for Pakistanis while Thai visitors are welcome on their pilgrimages to various Buddisht sites. Various centres of education in Bangkok offer an incredible alternative to those our youngsters, desirous of a foreign education. Both leaders discussed a whole gamut of issues. In security and defence arena, the need to have joint training exercises was stressed, which is natural keeping in view that violence is a common foe.
Ramping up trade ties figured prominently on the agenda; a commitment to take the trade volume to over 2 billion by 2018 seems achievable given that the spadework has already begun. What’s more, the Thai Prime Minister said she is for a Pakistan that has an increasing presence on the ASEAN platform, which means many more windows of opportunities can be explored. We are in the process of coming out of the economic blues while trying at the same time to draw increasing economic cooperation with friends as means to break the begging bowl. Thailand is reaching out to the world and its fast growing economy can offer us a lot.
For us, this might be the expression of ‘Look East Asia’ but in order to have more friends, willing to invest and let their citizens venture here for cultural or trade purpose, we will have to set our house in order. This will remain a forlorn dream when tourists and mountain-climbers are getting their throats cut. In such circumstances, anyone reaching out a hand of friendship and standing in solidarity with Pakistan, will earn the respect of the nation.