The Express Tribune
Published Date: Dec 13, 2013
South Asia’s future lies in cooperation: Najam
While presenting an agenda for South Asian region, an
eminent scholar and academics has stressed the need for bringing human
development aspect to sustainable development with focusing on
environment and pluralistic culture.
"Security and development are viewed as key but opposing challenges
and hope for an integrated future lies more with the citizens than South
Asian states," Dr Adil Najam, said while addressing at the concluding
session of a three-day conference on sustainable development in the
federal capital on Thursday.
The 16th conference on "Creating Momentum: Today is Tomorrow" was
organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Dr Najam, a Pardee Distinguished Professor of International
Relations, Earth and Environment, Boston University, USA, in his H.U Beg
Memorial Lecture gave a presentation on “South Asia 2060: Envisioning
Regional Futures”, which is also the title of a book he has edited.
According to him, the book does not predict a certain scenario, but
rather, it marks the way in which an imagined, pluralistic future is
nearer as it tackles South Asia as a region instead of casting lens on
separate national identities.
Pointing out how culture has an economic value today in a globalised
world, he provided a five-pronged answer to the India-Pakistan conflict.
There was a visible urge to hold on to ‘South Asianness’, even though
the idea of this identity is stronger than its structure, in terms of
trade and water. Competitiveness rather than cooperation has defined the
South Asian region. The nation-states have generally been overbearing
and fell short of their citizens’ expectations, he observed.
Aside from these propositions, he highlighted the need to bring the
human development aspect to sustainable development, since environment
has been largely out of the popular discourse. The rationale for this
was that human development is as important as security, keeping in mind
that insecurity breeds hazards for the environment as well.
He also delineated the significance of water as an important issue in
regional politics, saying that the source of connectivity makes for an
in-built logic of cooperation.
Regarding the actualisation of the peace process, the former
vice-chancellor of the Lahore University of Management offered four
propositions stating that there remains possibility for persistent
solutions to peace, seeing that even in the Kashmir issue, there have
been innovative solutions developed.
There is a logic of development and a people-to-people logic as well
as logic of water (in terms of regional cooperation) at work; and that
ripeness is rare but not permanent, and this particular instance in time
is most ripe for reconciliatory processes.
The nationalistic domestic constituencies historically opposed to
reconciliation, which are now talking about peace is a definitive sign.
He further stratified conflict into three "buckets": Territorial,
security and insecurity (regional concerns), and socio-economic
cooperation (water, trade, energy etc).
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, the Executive Director of SDPI, who presented a
summary of the three-day proceedings, discussing eye-opening findings
such as satisfaction with social service delivery in conflict-prone
areas, which is surprisingly high with little resistance to
He also commended the efforts of his team for organising a successful
conference, which even attracted the PM’s attention who will meet the
team after returning from abroad.