Panel discussion on regional development
Islamabad—“It is critical that, despite resurgence of violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan must continue to support the peace process,” said Professor Anatol Lieven at a panel discussion organized by the Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) on Tuesday.
The panel discussion reviewed recent developments in South Asia, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.
Welcoming the participants, Humayun Akhtar Khan Chairperson IPR, said that the purpose of the discussion was to take stock of recent developments in Pakistan’s neighborhood and to gain an idea of how events might likely unfold.
He said that, of late, the region’s enduring concerns had become more conspicuous. Signs of hope that were visible last year in Afghanistan, especially after the elections, had some what dampened.
In the Middle East, regional rivalries had exacerbated uncertainties. He said that security in Afghanistan continued to be a concern.
Last year alone, the country lost about 6,000 security personnel to violence.
Regarding India, he referred to its continued programme of enhancing defence capability coupled with an active foreign policy and hoped for a more calibrated approach from Pakistan towards India.
Professor Anatol Lieven said that recent developments in Afghanistan obliged him to take a pessimistic view of the Afghan peace process.
He based his observation on his recent visits to Afghanistan. He said that Pakistan must continue to support the peace process.
He shared the widely held belief, not only in Pakistan, that India might be supporting some of the activities of the Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan. He said this was a particularly dangerous strategy because of possible links between the TTP and ISIS.
In the Middle East, Pakistan must not be entangled in the rivalries between countries.
It was essential that Pakistan balanced its relations between Iran and the Gulf. At present, Pakistan has a real chance to galvanize its economy and enable sustained growth and development based on infrastructure investment from China.
Full integration into China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) holds great promise for the future of Pakistan’s economy.
OBOR will make Pakistan a hub of regional connectivity. In order to do so, Pakistan must maintain internal stability and not allow further violence in the country.
Already, Pakistan has taken effective measures. It was encouraging also to see that all parties in Pakistan have developed internal consensus behind this vital and central interest.
Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi stated that there was no meaningful public debate in the country to raise awareness among the people and to develop a cohesive and considered response to the risks faced by the country.
Ambassador Riaz Khokhar said that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor presented a real opportunity to the country.