D-8 as the name suggests is a group of developing eight countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria. This 20 years old organization was formed in 1997 with an aim to give economies of these developing states a better platform to enhance economic cooperation in the global economy, expand and generate new opportunities in trade relations. Apart from achieving desired economic goals this organization had a vision to augment its role in decision-making at international level and progress standards of living. D-8 opus stretches from South East Asia to Africa, and is considered more of regional group as its member states are from diverse zones. This forum without affecting bilateral or multilateral relations of its members, gives them a chance to enhance areas of economic thrive. D-8 Charter focuses on sectors of trade, tourism, food security, agriculture, health, energy and industrial cooperation.
D-8 summit was last held in 2012 and Pakistan was holding its chairmanship since then. Recently, in a 9th D-8 summit held at Istanbul on 20th of October, 2017 Pakistan handed over its chairmanship to Turkey. This summit in Istanbul, Turkey was attended by leaders of respective member countries and some delegates attended as observers. Pakistan’s PM Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi attended this summit and highlighted some important matters which member countries should focus more on. The Prime Minister while addressing the summit said that, “The 20th Anniversary of the D-8 is an occasion for us to renew our commitment to the accelerated realisation of D-8’s vision and objectives. As a group, the D-8 has vast potential and resources.” He further added that the progress achieved so far falls short of our expectations. The Prime Minister pointed out that intra D-8 trade, after an initial increase, stagnated, adding that the target of USD 500 billion in 2018, envisaged in the 2008 Kuala Lumpur Summit Roadmap, might remain elusive.
He further emphasised on the need to identify impediments that had stood in the way of achieving the organisation’s objectives and urged members to take measures to strengthen the partnership between them. PM Abbasi urged the member countries to focus on the implementation of projects for development, progress and prosperity of the people of the member countries, expressing hope for greater economic cooperation and added that the private sector can make the best use of emerging opportunities for trade and joint ventures and therefore we all should actively promote entrepreneurship in member countries. He in his speech mentioned that sectoral meetings at the ministerial level have already chalked out the roadmaps. Now is the time to start implementation. There may be challenges, but there are also opportunities like never before.
While congratulating President Erdogan on assuming the chair of D-8, PM Abbasi said that he is confident that Mr. Erdogan wisdom, sagacity, dynamism and firm commitment will bring new vigour to the organisation.” He added that, “On behalf of the people and government of Pakistan, I assure you of our full support and cooperation in our collective efforts to achieve tangible results. In Pakistan, you will always find a willing partner and friend,” He also said the Turkey’s chosen theme for this summit, ‘Expanding Opportunities through Cooperation’ is in complete harmony with the post-2017 development agenda and this shared prosperity is the only form of secure and sustainable prosperity. President Erdogan in his speech also stressed on member countries to expand their trade by using local currencies as a medium of exchange between member states. He discussed various challenges faced by the Muslim world in general and the member states in particular in different spheres of life including the economic development and mentioned that new partnerships will help D-8 to excel.
Generally speaking, there is a perception that such summits are not effective and are more of formal meet ups. However, little drops of water make the mighty ocean. One should be optimistic from these summits that they provide platform to member countries to highlight their issues in front of world community. As Pakistan while holding the chairmanship since 2012 made every effort to lead the organisation towards the realisation of its objectives. Pakistan hosted the summit meeting, two sessions of the Council and four session of the D-8 commission and a number of sectorial meetings since November 2012. Another significant milestone achieved during this period was the observer status for D-8 at the United Nations, and this status enabled the organisation to closely interact with various UN agencies and affiliated institutions for cooperative arrangements in priority areas.
PM during his speech also highlighted how CPEC is going to bring economic prosperity in Pakistan which shows that economic revival in Pakistan is not very far and Eurasian Belt and Road network will provide a firm foundation for a rapid economic development. Such forums give countries to express concerns they are facing from rest of the world and definitely help in attaining support on particular issues. Pakistan despite being victim of war against terrorism successfully defeated this menace of terrorism through a broad stratagem and firm tenacity and world acknowledges Pakistan’s struggles in this regard. So assemblies like D-8 give states not only a platform to show their potential and strength but together one can learn from each other’s experiences and must try to solve problems of Muslim world on broader level.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.