Published Date: Mar 19, 2019
Pakistan should focus on its financial interests: speakers
akistan should focus on its financial interests, and diversify its relations instead relying too much on a single economic partner, speakers at a seminar on Monday said.
Most speakers at the event, titled ‘Corridors in South Asia: a Bumpy Road to Strategic Stability’, stressed on holding a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Islamabad.
The seminar was held by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
Former senator Sehar Kamran said India and Iran had said Chabahar was in their interests and was their requirement.
“A media hype was created when we decided on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The fact is, economic relations are converted into political interests, so our first priority should be economic relations. We should look after our interests rather than linking them with that of Iran and Saudi Arabia,” she said.
“We should try to hold a meeting of SCO in Pakistan because being a member, India will have to attend, and we will get a chance to start negotiations,” she added.
Suggest holding SCO meeting in Islamabad
“We need to ensure internal stability because only that is how the country can progress,” Ms Kamran said.
Research associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad Abbas Hassan said: “We are a sea blind country, which means we are not aware of its economic benefits.”
“Ocean economy is the seventh largest economy of which we are not taking advantage. We need to start training people to take advantage of the sea. Dubai, Gujarat and Colombo are the major ports in the region. But we do not even have drinking water in Gwadar. We need to provide facilities in order to make Gwadar competitive,” he said.
Senior journalist Zahid Hussain said the concept of national security has changed and Pakistan needs to first address its economic, food and environment securities to achieve strategic security and stability.
“If we ensure peace, this South Asian region will transform into the fastest growing economic zone of the world. To achieve geo-strategic stability, we all need to work towards peace in Afghanistan, which is very critical. We should be proud of our relationship with China, but we should also realise that China is here because it has its own strategic and economic interests, which we do not understand completely. We should instead learn from China and how it managed and secured economic development despite external challenges,” he said.
While commenting on the blue economy, he said that security and cultural values are the two major obstacles in the development of sea and coastal tourism in Gwadar. He said we should see Chabahar port as a complementing port to Gwadar, instead of as a threat and that we should not behave like an insecure nation.
Former director general Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs at the Strategic Plans Division Khalid Banuri said weapons, especially nuclear weapons, provide you with some space to avoid conflict, but not a panacea for all due issues.
He said Pakistan needs to synergise its efforts, diversify its relations with the world at large and internationalise lingering issues, such as Kashmir, for strategic stability in the region.
Visiting lecturer at the National Defence University and research associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies Amna Tauhidi in her paper emphasised the need for evaluating CPEC from a trilateral perspective i.e. trade and economic cooperation, corridors as a geo-political tool and thirdly, use of corridors as a strategic tool and its implications for stability in the region.
She said this trilateral evaluation will enable the strategy and policy sector to relate to its security and foreign policy objectives. It is unfortunate that the complex nature of regional architecture in South Asia is more security driven, because of the varied outlook of its stakeholders, she lamented.
To make corridors in South Asia a success story, one needs to bridge the strategic trust deficit existing between the regional member states, which can be addressed both by global regimes and regional associations, she added.