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By Abdul Rahim |

In an environment where propaganda of Pakistan’s regional isolation led by India has been greatly broadcasted, hosting the 13th ECO summit with the theme of “connectivity for regional prosperity” is Pakistan’s foreign policy success both at regional and global levels.

The participation of Iranian, Turkish and the  Central Asian Region (CARs) Presidents and head of states, is another plus point that will surely dispel Indian propaganda. The summit gives a new life to Pakistan’s position and provides an opportunity to review its foreign policy options according to changing geopolitical circumstances at regional and global levels.

Read more: The importance of ECO summit for Pakistan

In a situation, where Pakistan is robustly facing Indian blame-game policy and normalizing ties with Russia, initiation of a master plan of OBOR by China and the game-changer project of CPEC, the confidence and trust of ECO members states in Pakistan will give a new turn to geostrategic and geopolitical scenarios.

Regional connectivity will bring Pakistan to strengthen its regional and global influences and to stabilize deteriorated economy due to terrorism and militancy.

Inviting China as a special guest and neighboring state is the wisest use of foreign policy card yet, which will surely help Pakistan and the other members states to actively participate in CPEC and avail Gwadar port for regional and global trade and economic interests.

China is a rising superpower and world’s second largest economy. Participation of China as a special guest will bring member states and China closer to each other. Resultantly, Pakistan will be able to stabilize the economy and enlarge trade and business sector by inviting ECO members to become a part of the master plan of OBOR and CPEC.

Regional connectivity will bring Pakistan to strengthen its regional and global influences and to stabilize deteriorated economy due to terrorism and militancy.

Read more: Are Indian fears about CPEC related to Kashmir issue?

Significance of President Rohani’s participation

Despite the ‘Kulbashen story’ of last year, the participation of President Hassan Rohani must be viewed in regional changing circumstances and Iran’s bold step to ensure good relationships with Pakistan. President Rohani’s participation will help Pakistan and Iran to come closer for economic, security, strategic and political interests at the regional level. In this regard, Pakistan must play wisely in order to avoid any future controversies and conflicts with the neighboring country.

Pakistan must deal with Iran same as with it deals with KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) for regional influence and economic interests; Pakistan cannot bear any regional controversy. Iran’s participation in trade and business sectors along with CEPC will push India out of boundary who has always tried to fuel the fire between Pakistan and Iran. Friendly and cooperative Iran will help Pakistan to secure regional and global interests.

Pakistan must deal wisely with Iran in order to avoid any future controversies and conflicts with the neighboring country.

Afghanistan’s passive participation and future concerns

Afghanistan is stable neither economically nor on security fronts. Afghanistan’s participation at lower level vividly represents Afghanistan’s unwise decision backed by Modi’s India. Afghanistan is in an immediate need of economic support, security cooperation, and infrastructural development. South Asian states except India are already facing internal security and economic challenges; in such situation, they will never help Afghanistan on economic and security fronts.

Kabul must accept that without friendly Islamabad, peaceful Afghanistan is not possible because Pakistan and Afghanistan’s interests and future concerns are same and inter-connected.

Afghanistan is in an immediate need of economic support, security cooperation, and infrastructural development. South Asian states except India are already facing internal security and economic challenges; in such situation, they will never help Afghanistan on economic and security fronts.

India wants to use Afghanistan as a regional tool against Pakistan for its regional and global influences. Modi’s all-out support to Afghanistan is totally based on anti-Pakistan propaganda and blame-game policy. Kabul must accept that without friendly Islamabad, peaceful Afghanistan is not possible because Pakistan and Afghanistan’s interests and future concerns are same and inter-connected.

ECO can provide economic, security and infrastructural support to Afghanistan but unwise and India-backed policies of president Ghani are losing opportunities that can ensure stable Afghanistan.

read more: RAW & NDS outsource terrorism: set prices to kill Pakistanis?

Opportunity for Pakistan: to secure regional cards

The long-term war-like situation since 9/11 and economic instabilities have brought Pakistan on the brink of controversies where it has lost trust at the regional and global level.

‘Yes-boss’ policy towards the U.S and undefined relations with Saudi Arabia has provided challenges to Pakistan. The U.S-India strengthening strategic partnership, Saudi and UAE’s deepening ties with India must be viewed analytically by our policy-makers who have always played policy cards unwisely.

Iran is our immediate neighboring state, rich in oil and gas, must be dealt seriously and friendly. Until Iran is in our court, Pakistan will never secure its regional interests. Pakistan must review and redesign its policy options towards Iran.

The Kulbashen event and the subsequent tweets made at a time when President Rouhani was in the country was unwise and helped to push Iran closer to India. Witness the strength with which Narendra Modi when he was in Iran May 2016, attacked Pakistan for being a trouble causer in the region.

 Until Iran is in our court, Pakistan will never secure its regional interests. Pakistan must review and redesign its policy options towards Iran.

The CARs, highly rich in gas, will surely help Pakistan to overcome the dilemma of an energy crisis. Immediate and priority-basis bilateralism and multilateralism will stabilize Pakistan to strengthen economic and infrastructural ties with gas-rich states of Central Asia. Moreover, without friendly relations with the CARs, Pakistan’s access to Russia and Europe is not possible. The CARs provide the safest and shortest routes for Pakistan to increase economic ties with Russia and European countries via Central Asia.

Read more: Will Pakistanis & Afghans be able to see through the Indian Great Game?

Importance of Turkey in the Summit

The relationship with Turkey must be viewed from multi-dimensional viewpoints. The rising ties between Russia and Turkey, Turkey’s interest in CPEC and Gwadar and Turkey’s role as a power balancer in Middle Eastern politics are equally important for Pakistan’s influence and significance in a political hemisphere of the Muslim world. The friendly ties of President Erdogan with Pakistan must be utilized for regional and global influence. Turkey’s support to Pakistan on NSG issue and opposing India, visits of President Erdogan to Pakistan despite the security reasons must be appreciated.

In nutshell, Pakistan must utilize the given opportunity to dispel the impression of isolation, end security challenges, stabilize the economy, develop infrastructure, and enhance trade and business sectors by connecting all member states through CPEC and Gwadar port.

Abdul Rahim is currently pursuing M. Phil degree with a focus on Talibanization and Imperialist Designs in 21st Century at International Islamic University, Islamabad. He tweets at Rahim_realist and his email is abdul.mseng346@iiu.edu.pk. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy

 

Abdul Rahim has completed his M. Phil degree with a focus on foreign policies, regional security, and strategic affairs at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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