The following is the text of the Keynote Speech by the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Regional Peace and Security at the two-day Islamabad Security Dialogue held on March 17-18, 2021 with the theme “Together for Ideas”.
“SAPM on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning,
Chairman and Director General ISSI,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to share my thoughts with you at this session of Islamabad Dialogue. This is a laudable initiative. I appreciate all those who have contributed to putting it together.
What I have in my mind for this interaction today is to briefly scan the global and regional landscape, and to outline Pakistan’s vision for peace and socio-economic development within that perspective.
Clearly, the world is going through profound transformation. Indeed, this is another pivotal, defining moment in history.
New security partnerships are being forged.
Old alliances are being reinforced and even further fortified.
Policies of ‘containment’ are once again ascendant, perhaps sowing the seeds of a ‘New Cold War’.
During the past few years, the world witnessed renewed competition, accentuating rivalries, and even a drift towards confrontation.
Globalization and multilateralism were severely undermined by unilateralism and sharpening geo-political tensions.
Major power competition has become distinct.
The mix of old and new conflicts and disputes is threatening peace and security in different parts of the world.
Amidst these complex global dynamics, threats are being magnified by some in order to justify their relentless arms build-ups and hegemonic designs.
Geographical and maritime borders are being redefined to advance motivated geo-strategic agendas.
Alliance-building and military dominance through power projection are taking shape.
The misplaced notion of ‘net security provider’ is being applied in our own region, in disregard to the legitimate security interests of others.
The cardinal principle of ‘equal and undiminished security for all states’ is being undermined.
New and emerging technologies are being weaponized at breakneck speed.
Warfare is being fundamentally transformed due to these disruptive technologies. Yesterday’s science fiction is becoming today’s reality.
Frontiers are being constantly pushed in the outer space, cyber space, and in the domain of Artificial Intelligence.
Disinformation and fake news is being spread as tools of statecraft.
Terrorism in Pakistan has been actively sponsored, aided and abetted from across our borders.
The introduction of destabilizing weapons systems in our region, coupled with offensive doctrines and a growing propensity for military mis-adventurism, is accentuating challenges to strategic stability.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite all these developments around us, marked by turbulence and volatility, Pakistani leadership’s vision of Naya Pakistan is focused around economic security – for the well-being and welfare of our people.
While fully resolved to protect our vital national security interests, our emphasis is shifting from geo-politics to geo-economics.
Pakistan’s location makes it a natural hub for economic confluence for competing states.
Rather than partake in geo-political competition and rivalries, Pakistan is advocating co-existence and win-win cooperation.
Pakistan has decided not to be a part of any regional conflict and has consciously chosen to be only a partner for peace and development.
Just recently, we hosted the Navies from45 countries in a multinational naval exercise – with members of NATO to Russia and China among its participants.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Specifically, Pakistan is calling for inclusive and cooperative approaches based on enhanced economic partnerships.
We are positioning Pakistan as an economic hub and melting pot for positive global interests.
Centered on economic security, our focus is on the three pillars of: connectivity; providing economic bases as development strategy; and peace within our borders and beyond.
To leverage the economic potential of the country, multiple variants of diplomacy are being actively employed by the Foreign Ministry – including economic diplomacy, public diplomacy, digital diplomacy and science diplomacy.
New avenues are being explored beyond our traditional partnerships, expanding to Africa through the “Engage Africa” Initiative.
Economic outreach to ASEAN and EU is being qualitatively upgraded.
The transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a hallmark of Pakistan’s all-weather strategic cooperative partnership with China – is the quintessential connectivity project. Besides contributing to Pakistan’s economic turnaround, CPEC is poised to contribute to regional prosperity.
Pakistan offers the shortest route to international seas to the western parts of China, and to the Central Asian Republics, through the Karachi and Gwadar ports.
We envision Pakistan emerging as the gateway to landlocked Central Asia and Afghanistan. We will endeavor to reap peace dividends in Afghanistan in the form of enhanced connectivity with Central Asia.
Pakistan has steadfastly supported an Afghan-led an Afghan-owned peace process. Our approach is defined by the conviction that there is military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s constructive engagement and positive contributions to the Afghan peace process facilitated the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement and the commencement of Intra-Afghan Negotiations – a fact duly recognized by the international community.
It is imperative for the Afghan parties to seize this historic opportunity and work together to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement. Pakistan will continue to support this noble goal as we go forward.
In principle, Pakistan is also ready to consider East-West connectivity to help address challenges of poverty and underdevelopment in South Asia.
But, obviously, we need a willing partner that is ready to engage in good faith, that is prepared to eschew belligerence, and that is committed to meaningfully address the factors that have bedeviled peace and security in South Asia for decades.
Durable peace, security and development in the region hinge on peaceful resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
It is clear that India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), and the ensuing military siege and indiscriminate repression of Kashmiris, caused incalculable damage to the prospects of peace.
Our Government had, at the outset in 2018, offered that if India took one step forward for peace, Pakistan will take two. But, unfortunately, India chose to take several steps backwards.
And the world saw the consequences. South Asia once again teetered on the brink.
India must stop violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in IIOJK; halt its illegal attempts to change the demographic structure in the occupied territory; and implement the UN Security Council resolutions which guarantee the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices.
India must also rethink its policy of fomenting destabilization in Pakistan and embrace a progressive agenda that can benefit the entire region.
Mutually agreed restraints on nuclear capabilities and conventional forces remain indispensable for strategic stability in South Asia.
In essence, the onus is on India to create an enabling environment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan’s vision of peace, development, and connectivity offers an entirely new paradigm.
Our outlook and trajectory are fundamentally transformed.
The international community, particularly the Western world, need to update their perceptions and their outlooks.
Enhanced trade, investment, energy security, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges are our higher priorities.
Our primary interest is in sustaining a peaceful, stable and prosperous world order, that takes everyone on board and leaves no one behind.
We call for shedding zero-sum perspectives, and for preferring cooperation over confrontation.
Pakistan will remain committed to peaceful co-existence, cooperative multilateralism, and win-win outcomes.
We will always support a rules-based and inclusive global order, for advancing the shared objectives of peace, progress and prosperity.
I thank you.”