Indonesia Foreign Policy Towards Pakistan
The preamble to the constitution of Indonesia, inter alia, signifies the importance of religion in the lives of the newly-born nation in these words: “With the blessing of God Almighty, and moved by the highest ideals to lead a free national life, the Indonesian people hereby declare their independence.” Again in Article 29 of Chapter XI, Religion, Sect. 1, “The state is based on the faith in the All-Embracing God,” Sect. 2, “The state guarantees the freedom of the people and to profess their own religion and to fulfil their religious duties.” However, in Chapter I, Sect. 2, it has been stated that the sovereignty shall be vested in the people and shall be fully exercised by the People’s Congress. It is inferred that the future relations of newly-born Islamic state, particularly with Islamic countries, will be based on strong footings.
The formal diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Pakistan were established in 1950 though earlier the exchange of goodwill messages between Soekarno and Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had marked the beginning of relations. Both the nations had passed through the tyrannical oppression of their colonial rulers. There existed grounds for this relationship on the basis of common identity of Islam and sharing of bitter experience of colonization with anti-colonialism vision.
Indonesia-Pakistan ties were consolidated by the signing of the Treaty of Friendship on 3 March 1951 in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. It contains the commitment of both the countries to universal values of social justice, respect for sovereignty, mutual cooperation and peace. The unanimity of views was further manifested in 1955 Afro-Asian Conference held in Bandung – The efforts to hold second Afro-Asian Conference were thwarted by India which, in turn, helped in strengthening of bilateral relations and visits of top political leadership of both the countries in the years to come. Pakistan fully supported Indonesia’s position on the issue of West Irian. Indonesia lent support to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and backed the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination in the light of UN resolutions. After Sino-Indian war of 1962, the relations between Indonesia and Pakistan took a new dimension as India sought military aid from Anglo-American alliance which was against its policy of non-alignment.
Indonesia has always posed trust and great confidence in Pakistan as a time-tested friend. It was demonstrated when Indonesia preferred Pakistan over India to assist United Nations Security Force (UNSF) for West Irian in which Pakistan sent a 1500-strong contingent. During Soekarno’s visit to Pakistan in 1964, Indonesia asserted its support on the Kashmir issue and it was openly acknowledged that the Kashmir issue was of concern for the Indonesian government. In the war of 1965 between India and Pakistan, a full-fledged support was received from Indonesia in the form of military support and provision of MiG-19 fighter jets to Pakistan. The presence of Indonesian navy in Pakistan’s seas prevented India from launching strikes from sea. Not only Indonesian government lent support to Pakistan in this war but the people of Indonesia also held rallies in support of Pakistan, based on common identity of Islamic brotherhood.
In the war of 1971, Indonesia again supported Pakistan and condemned Indian aggression in East Pakistan. It even helped Pakistan in release of prisoners of war and normalization of relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Pak-Indonesia relations continued to take new dimensions with exchange of delegations at highest levels, and new areas of cooperation were identified in the fields of culture, education, trade, commerce and defence. Pakistan was given the status of sectoral dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1993 and it became a member of ASEAN Regional Forum in 2004 with the efforts of Indonesia. Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) signed between Indonesia and Pakistan in 2013 boosted economic ties and trade was enhanced to the level of 3.1 billion US dollars. The negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will certainly benefit both countries in enhancing trade relations, are underway.
The incumbent President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, visited Pakistan in January 2018. During his visit, a number of agreements were signed in the areas of education, energy, trade and defence cooperation. President Joko Widodo also addressed the joint session of parliament of Pakistan which shows the intensity of strong relationship between both the countries and their firm commitment to democracy.
The combined population of both the countries is almost 500 million with a huge potential of further strengthening of bilateral relations in every field of life. Now the efforts should be made to enter into a treaty for building a comprehensive economic partnership. Pakistan will get access to ASEAN market of more than 3 trillion dollars if membership status in ASEAN is accorded to Pakistan.
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