ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed the Inaugural Session of the Islamabad Conclave 2021 held at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Thursday under the theme “A Peaceful and Prosperous South Asia”.
The following are remarks by the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Islamabad Conclave 2021;
“Respected Prime Minister,
Director General ISSI,
Esteemed Foreign and Pakistani experts, Ladies and gentlemen,
Assalam-u-Alaikum – Peace be upon you all!
I commend the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad for organizing today’s Conclave. It is a laudable initiative. The Institute has made good progress pursuant to its Vision 2023. Islamabad Conclave is one among many initiatives underway at the Institute to promote Pakistan’s narratives through Research and Dialogue.
It is noteworthy that the Islamabad Conclave is the culmination of year-long activities of the five Centers of Excellence functioning at the Institute. It brings together leading Pakistani and international experts for two-days of dialogue in the working sessions.
Mr. Prime Minister, I would endeavor to present a broad scan of the global and regional landscape, and then outline Pakistan’s vision for peace and development. Our world is transforming. Multilateralism is being undercut by unilateralism. Countries are returning to nationalistic agendas. Power projection is becoming a new normal. The competition between major powers, and a drift towards confrontation. This can lead to new rivalries and push the world again into ‘bloc’ politics.
A new Cold War seems to be taking shape. Arms build-ups and weaponization of new and emerging technologies is transforming the nature of future warfare. Introduction of offensive weapon systems, provocative doctrines, and aggressive force postures are increasing risks of an inadvertent escalation and military misadventures, undermining the already fragile strategic stability in our region. Mutually agreed restraints on nuclear capabilities and conventional forces remain indispensable for strategic stability in South Asia.
— Islamabad Conclave (@ISBConclave) December 9, 2021
In South Asia, home to nearly one-fourth of human population, notions of ‘net-security provider’ are being advanced to utter disregard of legitimate political, economic and security interests of other countries in the region. Notwithstanding historical, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and geographical linkages between its peoples, South Asia remains mired in disputes, hostilities, and mistrust.
Jammu and Kashmir is one of the oldest disputes on the United Nations agenda that still awaits resolution according to the wishes of the brave people of Kashmir. The dispute can conflagrate into a nuclear flashpoint to the detriment of regional and global security. The region has also been witnessing border stand-off between China and India, border dispute between Nepal and India, and water dispute between Bangladesh and India. Sri Lanka has endured 25 years of the bloodiest insurgency in its history. Afghanistan has lived through four decades of conflict.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We need to put human security at the centre of national security strategies: a departure from security-centric polices to move the region towards development and prosperity. This is the real challenge that South Asia faces today. Pakistan has shifted its focus to geo-economics. Connectivity is the new buzz word. It can provide us enormous opportunities for national and regional development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan offers the shortest route to international seas for the western parts of China and the Central Asian Republics, through the Karachi and Gwadar ports. The transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a hallmark of Pakistan’s all-weather strategic cooperative partnership with China – is the ideal connectivity project. Besides contributing to Pakistan’s economic transformation, CPEC is poised to revolutionize regional connectivity. Regional cooperation is a must for South Asia to prosper. SAARC needs to be revitalised by freeing it from narrow political agendas. Unfortunately, intra-regional trade remains low and concrete progress is required to overcome trade barriers, infrastructural deficits, and connectivity constraints. Pakistan has decided not to be a part of any global or regional conflict, and has chosen to be a partner only in peace and development. Pakistan is calling for inclusive and cooperative approaches based on enhanced economic partnerships.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Like many other countries, Pakistan is challenged by several non-traditional security issues including, climate change, food, energy, and water crisis, population bulge, unbridled urbanization as well as poverty exacerbated by structural issues of the economy. The most pressing area of concern is Climate Change and its direct impact on food and water security.
The Imran Khan government recognizes the gravity of this threat to national security and is making efforts to mitigate its effects. Pursuing enhanced cooperation in trade and investment, infrastructure development, energy security, agriculture, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges are our priorities. Our primary interest is in seeking a peaceful and stable international order that takes everyone on board. Pakistan will remain committed to peaceful co-existence, cooperative multilateralism, and consensus-driven outcomes.
We will always support an inclusive global order, for advancing the shared objectives of peace, progress and prosperity in the region and beyond. We are living in an age of narratives. Forming and disseminating narratives of Pakistan is a national responsibility of all of us. To bridge the gap between policy-makers and academics and present consensus-driven narratives, forums such as Islamabad Conclave can play an important role.
I look forward to seeing the recommendations emerging from the Conclave.