Political management experts and foreign policy managers all over the world are in unanimous agreement that sheer public diplomacy rhetoric, seductively charged hope and selectively tall statements by a political leadership do not resolve the serious foreign policy problems of a nation. In reality, determined actions, explicitly laid out policies and a realistic appreciation of political realities of what is possible and what is not probable in the contemporary global political system, are the factors that determine the foreign policy discourse of a nation.

Reportedly, “PM Nawaz Sharif has categorically said that the dual policy on drones will not be pursued anymore and the US will have to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan”; it is indeed, a commendable view of a fresh foreign policy initiative by the new Sharif regime. But the fundamental question remains: is Islamabad well prepared and fully equipped with explicit policy directions and plans to put the PM’s initiative into a formidable set of political actions to achieve its objectives?

A common English proverb states: “Actions speak louder than words.” Hence, it is expected of Islamabad to explain how it is going to implement its stated policy objectives and how it is planning to bring the Obama Administration into agreement with the Pakistani PM’s demands? Why would his administration suddenly negotiate its highly valued and consistently pursued drone strike policy? What political or military leverage can Islamabad exert on Washington to stop the attacks on Pakistani territories? These are all formidable policy issues that need to be fully analysed, rationally understood and politically managed. These are not abstract matters; they are real-time complex issues of a nation that involve dealing with a most powerful adversary whose political behaviour so far has been omnipotent and unilateral in its conduct vis-à-vis a Pakistani leadership, who has been complacent to American demands.

From a reflective viewpoint, let me ask PM Nawaz, for that matter the entire Pakistani nation, a hypothetical question: “[What] if the Pakistanis were terrorising Texas [USA] with drones, [wouldn’t you] expect Obama to send the US air force into immediate action?” Obviously, he would as “no government can legitimately authorise the murder of its own citizens” and thus the air force would shoot down the Pakistani drones. Isn’t that true?

The above question was initially raised by Clive Stafford Smith, the renowned humanitarian political activist, in a recent article titled “Time to rise up against drones”. Smith opined that the US is engaged in anti-humanitarian warfare against Pakistan.

In addition, Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan of the Peshawar High Court has said in his landmark ruling that, because drone attacks are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, “the government of Pakistan shall make a request to the UN Secretary General to constitute an independent war crime tribunal to direct the US authorities to immediately stop the drone strikes…....and to immediately arrange for the complete and full compensation for the victims’ families.”

The logic of my reiterating Smith’s question is not to suggest that Sharif’s government should immediately go into an urgent military offensive against the US and turn the present American camouflaged low-intensity warfare against Pakistan into a full-fledged conflict between the two nations. But Pakistan needs to go into an imperative diplomatic defensive to alter the Obama Administration’s political behaviour towards it and the US President’s stance on the drone attackes on the Pakistani territory.

Understandably, it is the most difficult task. I propose that my recently formulated foreign policy doctrine “Constructive Conflict Engagement” is a viable strategic approach to engage with the US on the issue. It is based on three fundamental concepts:

i    The word “conflict” postulates an absolute unambiguous acknowledgement on the part of the regime in Islamabad that low intensity aerial warfare and domestic covert activities have existed against Pakistan for years at the hands of the US military and political establishment. This perceptual factuality must be conveyed to Washington in absolutely unambiguous terms. The Obama Administration should also be told that a continuation of this state of affairs can and will have monumental consequences for both players.

i    “Constructive” refers to the willingness of one player - that is, Pakistan - to immediately engage in diplomatic negotiations to visit the problematic in view of new political realities emerging in the Pakistan of June 2013. The US must be told that today’s Pakistan is a different nation; the vibrant print and electronic media is the fourth pillar of the state. Increased political consciousness and awareness of national issues by Pakistani citizens have added an energetic variable into Pakistan’s polity. The US needs to be told that secretive, evasive and deceptive diplomacy is no longer possible in an emerging democratic Pakistan as it had been in previous civilian-military eras.

i    “Engagement” in this doctrine is the process of actual policy formulation and its determined implementation. Let us start, for instance, with a fresh Pak-US foreign policy initiative by doing the following:

a) Constitute a team of experts, who are knowledgeable of American political behaviour and its political-military history and who have unsurpassed linguistic and communicative skills, to engage the US leadership on the basis of equality to set forth a new political discourse for Pak-US relations, in which Washington’s legitimate interests would be guaranteed.

b) Mobilise massive public support for anti-drone demonstrations all over the country. These demonstrations would convey to the Americans that the political leaders and the masses in Pakistan are on the same page.

c) Let us quickly move the matter to the International Court of Justice, the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN General Assembly, and initiate a massive diplomatic initiative on crisis management skills.

d) Let us take the matter to Pakistan’s superior judiciary and have court rulings state “drone attacks are unlawful and constitutionally violate the country’s sovereignty.” And to enforce them, let Islamabad make a statement of intent. Let us decide on a deadline: failure to ensure the cessation of drone strikes past a deadline would result in complete blocking of US supply routes to Afghanistan through Pakistan. This would be enforced by Pakistan’s army and supported by the air force.

If we believe there is a solution, we will find one. Let us be optimistic. After all, a mighty superpower can be expected to act rationally in its international political behaviour at times. Post-June 2013 Islamabad cannot allow the murder of its own citizens. Or can it?

 The writer is UAE-based academic, policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and author of several books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a masters degree from Columbia University in New York.