WELCOME REMARKS – International Conference on “BRI in the Changing Regional Dynamics”

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BRI in the changing regional dynamics

International Conference, Islamabad, 20-21 November 2019

Welcome Remarks of the Director General ISSI

May I warmly welcome the honorable Foreign Minister of Pakistan to the International Conference being organized Institute of Strategic Studies. I would also like to welcome Ambassador of China, Chairman of Power China Resources Ltd, and scholars from China and Pakistan.

Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi sahib has developed for himself the reputation of a scholarly diplomat. He values and appreciates independent ideas. He recognizes the true worth of out of box thinking. He has therefore paid special attention to the inputs that he receives from outside the government circles. Our institute, of which the foreign minister is patron in chief, is especially fortunate for the opportunity to contribute to the thinking on foreign and security policy agenda of our country. The result of this approach is not surprising. Today, despite huge challenges in the foreign policy domain, Pakistan has acquitted itself well and handled choices with a sense of responsibility and wider perspective of peace and prosperity for the region and the world. He is a steady hand on our foreign policy mission and once again thank him for his consistent support to us.

I would also like to thank Ambassador Yao Jing of China. He has been a bulwark of support to China center of this Institute. He is seen all across the country travelling far and wide to inculcate deeper cooperation between Pakistan and his country. Thank you Ambassador and your team for the support to organize this conference.

I would also like to thank Mr Du Chunguo, the president of Power China Resources Ltd. His co-sponsorship of this event serves the highly valuable purpose of bringing Pakistan and China closer through tangible economic project.

Mr. Foreign Minister,

A new economic geography is emerging in our region. The sub regions of South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia are the mainstay of this economic geography.

Along side, there are at least five global dynamics, each of which is affecting the new economic geography of our region. Let me elaborate:

  1. Major power competition could either yield positive globalism or a disastrous rivalry.
    1. The US tilt towards India has emboldened the present Indian leadership to pursue a heavy-handed approach with consequences for the whole region.
    1. Any outbreak of hostility in the Gulf could seriously destabilize the region.
    1. Lack of peace in Afghanistan is one singular impediment to regional connectivity.
    1. Non-traditional security threats are rising like Climate Change and water security. Further, there are other huge challenges arising from information explosion, cyber, lawfare, xenophobia, narrow nationalism, challenges for immigrants, and unbridled population growth.

If we look closely, Pakistan and China are both hugely relevant to these global and regional dynamics, especially to the idea of a growing economic geography of our region: Let me elaborate.

China’s economic rise is stimulating the shaping up of the new economic geography. Major power competition could either move us towards a win-win melting pot or push the entire region into vortex of conflict. The BRI, AIIB, CPEC can all make globalism win. Or we lose it all. Stakes are high.

Pakistan’s role is also emerging as a conciliator, a peace builder, an element of stability in the region and hub of economic connectivity in the three sub regions. Pakistan’s implementation of CPEC, efforts to facilitate peace in Afghanistan, and conciliate both Iran and Saudi Arabia for peaceful solution to their problems are the cases in point.

The major challenge is lack of peace in South Asia, where India is pursuing the ambition of creating a Hindu rashtra, with little to no space for minorities.

How would the region cope with the challenges and avail the opportunities. The participating scholars from China and Pakistan would help us better understand the exact nature of the challenges ahead, and hopefully would identify practical solutions.

In the midst of these far reaching changes, it is crucially important that globalism and inclusivity must win. We all must stand on the right side of history.

I sincerely hope that this conference will contribute to deepening our understanding of the regional dynamics and how best we can benefit from them.

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