Institute For Policy Reforms Discusses Opportunities for Pakistan

Islamabad: Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) Chairman Humayun Akhtar Khan has that the recent economic change in the region hold great promise, provided the challenges are overcome. He said this at a stimulating panel discussion held by IPR on Tuesday in Islamabad. Prominent experts discussed the profound political and economic changes that are taking place in South and Central Asia and in the Middle East.

The discussion focused on the effect and implication of these developments on Pakistan. The panellists included former foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar, United States Institute for Peace South Asia Director Moeed Yusuf, well-known anchor and analyst Ejaz Haider and Institute for Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) Chairman Khalid Mahmood.

Introducing the topic, Humayun Akhtar Khan said that recent developments held hope for stability and growth in the region, but the outcome depended on how the leaders shaped these developments.

He said that there was a risk that opportunities may turn into challenges, adding that China’s increased role built on the One Belt One Road programme and an active Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held promise for the region. “However, its success depended on partner countries. Iran’s nuclear deal with P5+1 augured well for well-being of the greater Middle East. It can be a boost for Pakistan’s trade and energy interest also. Iran’s role in the Middle East, however, depended on relations with the GCC as well as with the USA. The Ashraf Ghani government showed good determination and maturity in trying to stabilise Afghanistan. Despite occasional acrimony, Pakistan and Afghanistan share common ground in moving forward,” he added.

The IPR chairman said that of late, India has had an active foreign policy, adding that India is expanding its defence capability and does not shy from display of force. Dwelling on developments in Afghanistan, Moeed Yusuf said that Pakistan and Afghanistan have no choice other than to move forward with talks for peace in Afghanistan. This was entirely in the interest of the two countries, as well as the region, he added.

He said failure of talks would destabilise Afghanistan with profound effect on Pakistan and the region. “The only likely outcome of failed talks would be a civil war in Afghanistan with ISIS to be its main beneficiary. Indeed, there are spoilers, but each party must know that the civil war will no longer be localised and would affect the whole region. ISIS presence would pose a far greater threat than that from al Qaeda,” he added.

Moeed Yusuf said that all countries must strengthen the Ashraf Ghani government, adding that this was the last chance for Pakistan and the West to have a credible partner in peace. He said the Taliban also have reconciled to power sharing in Kabul and moved from their objective of removal of the Ghani government, adding that a follow up meeting to the recent Murree talks is critical. “Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan must overcome hindrances and find ways to manage those opposed to the talks,” Moeed added.

Former foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar focused on China. He said that above everything else, the Chinese prioritised the peaceful borders, adding that this was critical to China’s practical and businesslike approach of focusing on the economic development over territorial disputes. “Clearly, China will now play a growing role in South Asia and Pakistan will be a pivotal country. China’s One Road One Belt is a grand vision of the present leadership in Beijing. This initiative, in which Pakistan’s role was key, is of great strategic importance, he added.

Riaz Khokhar said that through a network of roads, rails, ports and pipelines, it connects central China with the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean and ultimately the Atlantic. The project allows China to become a two-ocean country from its present access through merely the Pacific Ocean, he added.

Khalid Mahmood discussed Pakistan-Iran relations in the backdrop of regional and international situation. He especially focused on Iran’s recent nuclear deal. In his view, with a strong economy and improved relations with USA, Iran could play a bigger regional role. He said that this was positive news for Pakistan, as the country can develop trade and investment relations with Iran. “The two countries could cooperate also in developments taking place in Afghanistan. Pakistan would have to balance its interests and relations between Iran and the Gulf,” he added.

Ejaz Haider said that the Indian prime minister has substantially changed the emphasis of India’s foreign policy and has made a bolder statement of national security policy. “He is strengthening the country’s military power. He is not shy to sound offensive and to use asymmetrical warfare. Modi has merged foreign and domestic policy in the pursuit of economic objectives.

About Arif Qureshi

Check Also

Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in a tragic train accident.

Islamabad: H.E. Mr. MATSUDA Kuninori, the Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan on Monday expressed grief …