These are the 10 things Pakistan can learn from Iran…but first, Iran Pakistan map, just to get into the right frame of mind.
Strike oil or Gas, quite literally. Pakistan cannot feed, clothe, educate and keep healthy a population of 210 Million, growing at over 3%, without a jackpot of sorts. The oil well will also be a buffer against economic sanctions. Iran hugely leverages its oil with India, EU, and China to get favorable diplomatic clout. In the meantime, take up the Iran Pakistan gas pipeline, as a challenge. This IP pipeline will help stabilize the Iran Pakistan currency rate which is 266 Irani Rial to One Pakistan Rupee. Iran Pakistan trade at $ 293M is another boon.
Educate your people to be productive and influential. Iran has a 95% plus literacy rate and a mere 80 million population and the 3rd highest publications in the Muslim world. The voices of reason against aggression are coming from within the western society from influential Irani people who want to identify with an educated and aware civilization.
Trust and build your own institutions both inside and beyond your borders for influence. Iran uses the Quds Force to spread their influence far and wide across the world. Pakistan’s ISI can tear out a page from this manual. These institutions should be modern, egalitarian, educated, integrated, and designed to deliver to the civilized society.
Stand up for what is right. Iran has always denounced Israel for its injustice and even India for its treatment of Muslims in Kashmir, even at a time when they needed friends like India. Pakistan will have to be truthful to causes that are just and worth fighting for. India is only gaining from Pakistan’s follies with Iran, especially the attacks in Iranian land.
There are many principled non-Muslims countries as well. Pakistan has to stop being holier than thou in global politics, as no one else is. There is a difference between speaking for the downtrodden and actually bending your diplomatic options because of some poor unfortunate Muslim country being led by numskulls. Staying in the good books of powerful nations has an uplifting effect on the general population. After all these powerful countries didn’t get there by chance — respect that.
Bleed the giant. If you have to punish the bully, bleed it real quiet. That is a million cuts at its fault lines or Achilles heels. This could be oil shipments disruption, communal tensions, buy off greedy officials, disrupt the constitutional process, exploit dominion territories, rich-poor divide — but never a direct confrontation. “The best win is the one that is never fought”. Does this till the time Pakistan has greater landmass and economic strength. Then strike like the Mongols’ did Baghdad — spare no moving soul. Iran has been bleeding the USA in the Middle East, real slow and the frustration is showing. USA’s influence as the thug guaranteeing protection is receding fast and they are getting nervous. This is how Pakistan should be spreading its footprint across West, Central, and South Asia.
Do not let instability come into the country at any cost. The only purpose of a standing army is that no instability reaches your society. The areas under Iranian influence in Afghanistan are the most peaceful and that is how Pakistan should handle its proxies. Keep your border peaceful. The three rules of Power politics, 1) You don’t mess with your neighbor 2) You don’t mess with your neighbor 3) you don’t mess with your neighbor. This is what Iran has managed to do with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and now Iraq. Iran Pakistan border length is 960 km in total with two crossings Mirjaveh and Taftan.
Use religion as a political tool to unite the society, not divide it. Religion has done a marvelous job in giving us a country in Pakistan. Now, make laws that empower people with the right education, skill, and institutions’ to prosper. Stop harking back to yesteryears and the golden era of Baghdad and Spain. People want systems that work, not a system that keeps them docile and dumb. Iranian society is the most modern the whole of West Asia, and the Middle East — despite the fact they are being ruled over by clerics — there is a hint there for Pakistani rulers.
Keep non-muslim residents safe and secure. Pakistan’s weakest member will define its society’s potential. Right now Pakistani non-Muslims and Muslims alike are leaving the country by the droves because, no one can dream of making it here without influence and connections, at least not by working hard. Iran has a thriving Jewish, Zoroastrian, and non-Muslim population. They bring vibrancy and alternative views into the public discourse, and that makes nations strong.
Build an indigenous military industry. Iran has used network-centered warfare, complete with drones, surveillance systems, and integrated missiles and aircraft to project power far away from the country. All this is based on a thriving military-industrial complex that is independent of the government. Iranian proxies use sophisticated home-built rockets and drones like they are candies.
Merely because of its size, Pakistan cannot survive without a strong coalition of countries. Muslim coalition comprising of educated and democratic countries seems to be the best bet. There are only a few Muslim countries that fit this bill, namely, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, and probably Bangladesh once it steps out of Big Mama India’s shoes. Good Iran-Pakistan relations are, therefore, vital for both.
One good takeaway is that Iran Pakistan has never gone to war, despite both having nuclear ambitions. The news on Iran Pakistan joint press conferences are a nice sound byte but the real meat is political integration.
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