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Stable Indo-Pak relations key to unlock untapped potential of South Asia, COAS Bajwa

Stable Indo-Pak relations were the key to unlocking the potential of South and Central Asia by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia.

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Stable Indo-Pak relations is the key to unlocking the potential of South and Central Asia by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia. However, its potential has always remained hostage to the disputes and issues between the two “nuclear neighbours”, Gen Bajwa said while addressing the audience on day two of the first-ever Islamabad Security Dialogue,

“The Kashmir issue is obviously at the heart of this. It is important to understand that without the resolution of Kashmir dispute through peaceful means, [the] process of sub-continental rapprochement will always remain susceptible to derailment due to politically motivated bellicosity.”

The south Asian region is amongst the least integrated regions of the world in terms of trade, infrastructure, water and energy cooperation, said the COAS. On top of it, despite being impoverished, we end up spending a lot of our money on defence, which naturally comes at the expense of human development,” he added.

Read more: Pakistan’s new strategic direction unveiled at Security Dialogue

COAS Bajwa said that it is about time that both India and Pakistan bury the past and move on, adding that for resumption of peace process or meaningful dialogue, India would have to create conducive environment, particularly in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

PM Khan had also asked for India to step forward if it wants to normalize ties with Pakistan while addressing the first session the Security Dialogue on Wednesday.

National security not limited to army

“The role of national security dialogue is not limited to Army nowadays, other stakeholders are in this too,” said Bajwa.

“National security is thus multi-layered. The outer layer being the exogenous factors of the global and regional environment, and the internal layers being indigenous factors of internal peace, stability and developmental orientation, he added.

“A nation at peace and a region at harmony are thus essential pre-requisites for attaining national security in the true spirit.”

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had been at the heart of Pakistan’s economic transformation plan and the country had aimed make the project inclusive, transparent and attractive for all global and regional players, remarked Bajwa.

However, only seeing Pakistan through [the] CPEC prism is also misleading, he said.

Talking about Pakistan’s economic potential, the COAS said that Pakistan’s vital geostrategic location and a transformed vision made it a country of immense and diverse potential which could very positively contribute to regional development and prosperity.

“The world has seen the ravages of the world wars and the Cold War, wherein polarisation and neglect of virtues blighted the future and brought catastrophic consequences for humanity, he said while speaking about Pakistan’s national security challenges.

“Today the leading drivers of change in the world are demography, economy and technology.

Read more: Indian PM Modi directly running anti-CPEC terror cell

“However, one issue that remains central to this concept is economic security and cooperation. Frayed relations between various powers centres of the globe and boomeranging of competing alliances can bring nothing but another stint of Cold War.”

“It is important for the world that leading global players must reach a stable equilibrium through convergence instead of divergence’’, said Bajwa.

He also lauded Pakistan for its robust role in trying to maintain peace in Afghanistan. Apart from offering support to the Afghan peace process, Pakistan helped enhance Kabul’s trade and connectivity, the army chief said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, also highlighted Pakistan’s stance to steer clear from participation in in geopolitical competition and rivalries, and instead opt for “co-existence and win-win cooperation” while addressing the conference.

Pakistan is now being set up as an economic hub and “melting pot” of positive global interests, he added. The minister also termed CPEC as a project of regional prosperity with numerous benefits for all.

Talking about the Kashmir dispute, the foreign minister reiterated PM Khan’s stance that the Kashmiris should be given the right to self-determination in line with UN’s resolution.

Responsibility Within: Instituting a Human Security Paradigm.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam while addressing the session titled ‘Responsibility Within: Instituting a Human Security Paradigm’, said that it is necessary for Pakistan to focus on climate change adaptation in order to ensure human security in the current era of mounting environmental degradation.

“Pakistan globally has emerged as a leader among the developing countries by investing its own resources in nature conservation despite its economic crisis”, he added.

Read more: India’s Hybrid Warfare Against Pakistan: Challenges and Response

“Pakistan, he said aiming to pilot its first sovereign nature bond which would garner international financial assistance for nature conservation”, he announced in his keynote address on “Championing Climate Change’.

SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan in his keynote address on Managing Covid-19: Lessons from Pakistan said that along with fighting COVID19, it was important to gauge the outcomes of the corrective measures being taken to tackle the issues.

However, it was necessary to take specific actions as national coherence for an effective response was important to gain positive results, he added. The government had made countless efforts to develop institutional capacity of the National Institute of Health which needed to be sustained.

SAPM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar while delivering her keynote address on ‘Poverty Alleviation: Casting Safety Net’ said that demographic security should be at the core of human security paradigm. However, there needs to be a paradigm shift in governance to ensure credible utilisation of resources. Though the rapidly rising population is a societal issue that the government is trying to tackle, there is still a lot more that needs to be done, she added.

NACTA Former National Coordinator Ihsan Ghani during his keynote address on ‘Violent Terrorism and Extremism’ said that the region of previously Federally Administered Tribal Areas had faced has managed to come out of a protracted crisis though not completely, after facing decades of violence.

The conference is being organized by the National Security Division in collaboration with its advisory board, comprising five leading think tanks of the country including Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies, Islamabad Policy Research Institute, Institute of Strategic Studies, Institute of Regional Studies and National Defence University’s Institute of Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis.

Read more: Foreign Minister calls for east-west connectivity to end poverty in South Asia

This Munich security conference inspired summit is predicted to be Pakistan’s leading intellectual platform to debate over domestic and international security challenges and contribute to the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

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