Federal Minister for Interior/Planning Development and Reform, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Tuesday, suggested Iran, Pakistan and China to create a community of shared prosperity in the region. Pakistan and Iran must learn from China’s approach of reaping benefits by creating peace in the region. “The age of geopolitics is over and the time has come for Pakistan to focus on geo-economics while looking for the regional options…China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) envisages regional connectivity, therefore, we are looking forward to Iran for developing new infrastructure in the region and beyond” he said while inaugurating an International Conference on, “Pakistan-China-Iran: A Trident of Regional Connectivity”, organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).
Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing, chaired the first session, Pakistan-China-Iran: Analyzing the Prospects of Triangular Cooperation. In their presentations over the session, Lin Minwang, Research Fellow, Fudan University, Shanghai, discussed the possibilities of the trilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Ambassador Alireza Bikdeli, Senior Expert at the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), Tehran,emphasized that Iran and Pakistan must try to benefit to the maximum from their neighbourhood position while keeping common development plans away from securitization. Dr. Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Principal and Dean S3H, National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Pakistan, suggested a two-pronged approach to cement the trilateral cooperation: facilitating the trident through constructing regional institutions; and providing specific support to the least developed countries in the region.
Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost, chairing the second session onPakistan-China-Iran: Initiatives for Regional Connectivity, opened the floor on a very positive note that regionalism is the key principle of Iranian foreign policy and it has much more to offer in energy market and transit trade to further this initiative. Dr. Muhammad Jafar Javadi Arjmand, Assistant Professor at the University of Tehran, put forth the idea of synergizing the three formidable forces – regionalism, economic diplomacy and multilateralism – to carry through the idea of the trident.
Dr. Rong Ying, Vice President China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Beijing, touched upon the competing visions on the regional initiatives and proposed that the three countries should find the effective means to avert any possibility of confrontation through consensus. Dr. Syed Riffat Hussain, HOD, Department of Government and Public Policy, NUST, Pakistan, stressed upon the need for peace in Afghanistan, which is the key to success of CPEC or any other regional initiative.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman ISSI, chaired the third session, “Challenges to Trilateral Cooperation and The Way Forward.” Dr. Hadi Soleimanpour, Head of the Centre for International Research & Education (CIRE), Tehran, stated that China needs to help Iran and Pakistan with an integrated and comprehensive plan. Dr. Wang Yiwei, Director, Institute of International Affairs, Renmin University, Beijing, said that shared trinity encompasses shared interest, responsibility and destiny. Ambassador Javid Husain, former Ambassador to Iran, stated that China has a convergence of strategic interest with both Iran and Pakistan, thus providing an opportunity for close commercial and economic cooperation for the two countries which are in dire need of foreign investment.