Speakers on Saturday consented that intra-regional connectivity has become a significant phenomenon in international relations, and that the wave of globalization has made it obligatory for the region to strengthen economic linkages among one another.
They were speaking at a session titled ‘Regional Connectivity and Stability’.
Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said there are many platforms at regional levels to enhance economic relations. “It is the job of a country’s leadership to build public opinion on certain issues,” she said.
Khar opined that international donors should reserve at least $1 billion for the regional connectivity projects, if they want true development in the region. She said consensuses on certain issues could not be developed, as Pakistan had not remained a democracy for three decades, and needed a longer time to flourish.
Regarding Indo-Pak relations, she said both always attached security and territorial disputes with economic relations. She explained that where England and France have had similar disputes, they still allowed and enabled regional connectivity.
Anchorperson Nasim Zehra said that there are some individuals in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan who consider economics separate from security. She said regional leadership needed to come up with an economic policy.
Zehra said there is an understanding in the political circles of India and Pakistan that economics are important, but little consensus on how to deal with the situation.
Omar Zakhilwal, another speaker, said despite the need and availability of opportunities, the region has remained the least connected and developed in the world. He asked why there is no development when many forums for regional connectivity exist. He said that regional politics should be given priority over domestic politics.
Jean Francois Cautain said the region has plenty of resources in term of natural gas and oil, but peace is crucial in order to benefit from them.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2016.