President stresses peaceful environment for progress in region

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Seminar at IDEAS 2016

Scholars highlight perils of conflicts

Amanullah Khan

Karachi—A peaceful and stable South Asia will generate dividends for the people of the region and bring economic and trade benefits to the global economy said President Mamnoon Hussain at a seminar “Stability and the Economics of Regional Peace in South Asia” which was jointly organized as part of IDEAS 2016 in Karachi by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad and Defence Export Promotion Organization. The President said that the world is confronted by new challenges while old security threats are changing to adapt to new technologies. South Asia has shown a tremendous resilience and is emerging as one of the fastest growing regions and economic market.
Nevertheless, at the bilateral level in South Asia, the inherited legacy of conflict and unresolved disputes persists, constraining each state’s ability to promote economic and social development of its people. The twin phenomena of strategic peril and economic promise pose a daunting challenge, which must be met by South Asia in sync with the great global transformation of our times. The Seminar was held under the aegis of the Defense Exports Promotion Organization (DEPO) and organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).
The Seminar was a part of bi-annual defense exhibition IDEAS -2016. Eminent scholars deliberated on the seminar theme which was divided into five sessions that sought expert opinion, recommendations and future directions. The Chairman ISSI Ambassador (Retd.) Khalid Mahmood said, since achieving independence the countries of South Asia have not been able to forge a cooperative framework that can match the European Union or ASEAN. The Ambassador recalled how South Asia witnessed the gains of peace, with a paradigm shift during 2003-2008 in Pak-India relations and stated that peace between the two countries is the only way forward.
In the growing context of regional and global connectivity, in which the states have started creating frameworks and platforms for enhanced economic cooperation, the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a bright light since it presents immense opportunities for promoting the economics of peace in South Asia and beyond. Maj. Gen. Agha Masood Akram, Director General DEPO in his welcome remarks emphasised that it is necessary to look into the concept in the backdrop of changed and changing international and regional dynamics. A new international order seems to be emerging defined overwhelmingly by geo-economics rather than geopolitics.
The Director General asserted that setting up of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the creation of a new ‘Silk Road’, linking Beijing to its immediate neighbours, will not only dramatically increase regional productivity and trade, it is expected to stand as an enduring, very tangible expression of China’s material centrality in Asia and beyond. Dr. Andrew Small, Transatlantic Fellow with the Asia Programme at the German Marshall Fund of USA in his speech titled “Sustainable Peace in South Asia: Role of Major Powers” analyzed the potential for the new regional connectivity schemes, including CPEC, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and other international efforts, to enhance stability in South Asia.
He argued that navigating political sensitivities effectively in the early years of the connectivity schemes are critical to their fate. He also stated that by building open regional economic connectivity platforms and a degree of international consensus behind the initiatives, will maximize the prospects; However, some degree of economic competition in South Asia is necessary, if it does not bleed into the security realm because it may ensure complementary and mutually reinforcing outcomes given the scale of the region’s infrastructure needs and the existing weaknesses of trade relations.
Dr. Oleg Kulakov, Advisor to the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS), in his presentation on “Peace and Economics of Regional Security in South Asia” talked about the issues of peaceful economic development in South Asia.

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