By Arif Qureshi
An Islamabad based think tank Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS) hosted a seminar on the topic of “Regional Challenges and Prospects-Pakistan, Iran and Gulf Countries Relations” at a local hotel in Islamabad on Wednesday. Speakers discussed in details about the menace of terrorism, future challenges and opportunities in Middle East. There were consensus among the speakers that all Muslim countries especially Iran and Gulf states should shun their differences and create an atmosphere of peace, development and prosperity in the region. The aim and focus of the Seminar was to discuss the prevailing security challenges that are common to Pakistan, Iran and Gulf Countries while evaluating the prospects and possible way forward that could be worked upon by the respective governments and law enforcement agencies to deal with the existing security threats. Through the platform provided by the CGSS, many prospects were discussed that could be assertive for enhancing the security of the respective countries and for the development of mutually beneficial relations.
Former DG ISI Lieutenant General Muhammad Zahir Ul Islam (Retd) and Chairman CGSS in his opening remarks emphasized the need for enhancing mutual relations. He further stated that Pakistan shares an inimitable relation with Iran and other Gulf Countries because of religious and cultural commonalities. He also emphasized to introduce more forums for dialogues between these countries to iron out any differences.
Major General Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery (Retd), stated that Pakistan has always enjoyed cordial relations with Iran and other Gulf States. Iran has the unique distinction of being the country to accept and recognize Pakistan as a sovereign state after its independence on 14th August 1947. Furthermore, Pakistan and Iran are economic and strategic partners and have always helped each other during the times of conflict and also collaborate in terms of military cooperation. Although the relations between both, Iran and Pakistan, faced some ups and downs due to the strategic environment of the region but mostly they stay on the positive nodes. Pakistan has always found itself close to the Gulf States due to the religious affiliations. A significant number of Pakistanis are residing in these Gulf countries where they are contribution towards their development. Further to it, Pakistan’s closeness with Saudi Arabia is undeniable due to the fact that each year hundreds and thousands of religious pilgrims visit the holy sites of Makkah and Madina to perform Umrah and Haj.
Ambassador Akram Zaki presented speech on “Pakistan’s Future Policy towards Iran and Gulf Region in the Backdrop of Current Environment”. While addressing to the participants he stated that Iran and Gulf countries are very important for Pakistan with whom we have historical, cultural, religious, economic, political and strategic relations. Unfortunately, this energy rich, strategically important, Muslim West Asia is in turmoil and facing multiple conflicts, in which major World Powers, Regional Powers and Non-State actors of various shades are fighting many battles in different dimensions. It is difficult to identify who are allies and who are adversaries.
Lieutenant General Khalid Naeem Lodhi (Retd) addressed the participants and enlightened them about “Security and Counter Terrorism Challenges in Pakistan, Iran and Gulf Countries”. He explained in detail the roots of terrorist organizations and their hierarchal structure. He also presented a historical overview of terrorism. He stated that difficulty in employment of regular forces further gave a rise to proxy wars. He stated that prospects of success against terrorism are only possible through socio-economic, political and military action.
The Ambassador Amjad Majid Abbasi stated that no one knows who is fighting whom and who is behind whom. The monster of terrorism was let loose resulting in thousands of innocent deaths. This leads us to new challenges and opportunities like forging regional alliances and working hard on the bilateral relationships. In that backdrop, talks and discussions on this subject are of utmost importance because eminent analysts, scholars, diplomats and area experts have graced the occasion to share their thoughts with all of us.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood discussed future challenges and opportunities for strategic collaboration. He stated that these countries must work together in the areas of mutual interest and must focus on enhancing the strategic relations. Being the Ambassador of Pakistan to Iran and Saudi Arabia, he had the first-hand experience to share and give relevant suggestions to the policymakers.
Ambassador Khalid Aziz Babar exchanged his views on the incredible business opportunities that exist between Pakistan, Iran and Gulf States. He stated that the Gulf region is the largest supplier of the world’s demand for oil and history suggests that the demand for oil has never diminished. Pakistan, Iran and Gulf States have always been a point of interest for the global powers as this region has tremendous business and investment opportunities. Through business ventures we can further strengthen our bilateral ties which will yield into mutually beneficial situation for Pakistan, Iran and the Gulf States.