Regional integration is not possible as long as regional trade is sacrificed at the altar of so called security, said former senator Farhatullah Babar while taking part in a discussion organised by the Institute of Regional Studies in Islamabad (IRS) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad on Monday.
When regional trade is employed as a tool of security policy by an overbearing security establishment trade, business and people will continue to suffer, he said.
“We need to follow the Chinese model whose trade with India had crossed over 100 billion dollars despite serious political issues between them,” he said.
Some elements also fear that if peace broke out in the region it will challenge their predominance in the business of the state,
“We need peace for regional integration, but peace will remain elusive as long as some militants appeared to enjoy state protections while others were targeted,” Babar said.
He said Moulana Masood Azhar was being protected from punitive action by the UN.
“Militants like Baitullah, Hakeemullah Mehsud, Waliur Rehman, Said Khan Sajna, Qari Hussain, Shahidullah Shahid and Mulla Mansoor Akhtar were taken out in US drone strikes and not by our security forces and asked why? More than two years had passed to the killing of Mansoor Akhtar and we had yet to find out who issued a Pakistani passport and identity card to him,” the ex-Senator said.
Others who spoke on the occasion included Caretaker Information Minister Barrister Ali Zafar, Prof Dr Riffat Husain and Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2018.