“CPEC has become the development brand of Pakistan”, says DG Projects CPEC, Hassan Dawood.
The Center for International Strategic Studies held a one-day national conference on “Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: Challenges and Opportunities”, on July 18, 2018 at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Abdullah Hussain Haroon was the keynote speaker. In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi while laying out the agenda for the discussion, outlined the challenges as well opportunities in wake of the upcoming elections and looked forward to fruitful proceedings that can provide useful input on foreign policy for the new government.
The Foreign Minister Mr. Hussain Haroon commended CISS on arranging this important and timely national conference on challenges and opportunities for Pakistan’s foreign policy. In his keynote speech, the Foreign Minister emphasized the fact that the world is changing and new alignments are taking shape. In this changing scenario, new opportunities are being created and Pakistan should stand ready to take advantage of this emerging situation. Pakistan should be ready for a change. He said that the success of Pakistan’s foreign policy depends on how best it utilizes its national resources. He noted that special emphasis needs to be laid on economic diplomacy and projecting the country as a modern and dynamic state.
DG Projects CPEC, Ministry of Planning Mr. Hassan Dawood Butt spoke about the opportunities for Pakistan in the evolving geostrategic environment with reference to CPEC. He said that CPEC has immense benefits but it is a long-term process, which exploits Pakistan’s geostrategic location. He dispelled the popular misconceptions about the CPEC. He said that the center of economic power is shifting from the West towards the East. He emphasized that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) would promote and build new platforms for International cooperation, and create new drivers of shared development. He spoke about the importance of CPEC in regional connectivity and growth. He said that CPEC provides a stimulus for growth and a corridor to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan in the infrastructure Power and construction sector. He further said that CPEC has now become the development brand of Pakistan.
Amb. (R) Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, while providing an overview of changing international strategic environment and imperatives of Pakistan foreign policy stated that the foreign policy should be a priority for the coming government, as it is actually the central policy of a state which supports other sectors like economic and social policy etc. He emphasized on the need for fundamental reforms in foreign policy issues to portray Pakistan’s positive image abroad. Ambassador Qazi also highlighted that Pakistan foreign policy needs to define short-term and long-term goals, for instance, Kashmir issue does not have any short-term solution but Afghan issue needs immediate solution.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Professor at the IR department of Quaid-i-Azam University in his presentation remarked that challenges can be summed up as domestic instability, economic dependence, and transnational terrorism. Pakistan faces discrimination internationally as compared to India. He pointed out that Pakistan needs to work on its soft power and that Pakistan should concentrate on promoting its own national interest.
Dr Syed Rifaat Hussain while talking about the challenges to Pakistan’s Foreign Policy outlined three main challenges; i.e. firstly, there is a need to keep pace with transforming geopolitical imperatives; secondly redefine security comprehensively, and finally the imperative is to strike a balance between economy and security. He also talked about other regional challenges of rising India, deteriorating relations with Afghanistan and Iran. Some of the opportunities he outlined included Pakistan’s significance in an Afghan led conciliation process, Pakistan’s demographic might; and the membership of SCO as a means of regional integration.
Amb. (R) Salman Bashir talked on regional issues and their impact on national security. He said that commentators in India acknowledge that anti-Pakistan narrative is being used in 2019 general election as a popular political manifesto. He emphasized that this country needs strong institutions as sustainable economic development is foundation for peace.
Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary talking about the nuclear order and its impact on nuclear stability said that the Grand Bargain in NPT has not been honored by the possessor of the nuclear weapon states (NPT NWS). He highlighted four challenges to the current the nuclear order including lack of political will on behalf of NWS, nuclear arms control and danger of collapse of disarmament treaties, deadlock on the multilateral processes and the regional dynamics in South Asia, Middle East and Korean peninsula. He said that though the US and Russia have decreased the number of nuclear weapons but they are simultaneously taking measures to modernize their stockpile. He also said that there is limited scope of breakthrough in talks on nuclear disarmament and arms control after NEW START expires.
The conference was well attended by the ambassadors, members of academia, policy makers and intelligentsia.
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