South Asian region is in a state of flux with competing economic visions being offered for its future. For Pakistan the critical choices were mostly internal. Focus should be on good governance and economy.
This was the gist of the speeches made by speakers at the concluding session of a two-day international conference on “Pakistan’s strategic environment: Post 2014” on Thursday, said a press release.
The conference was organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute in collaboration with Hans Seidel Foundation of Germany.
While summing up the proceedings of the second day sessions, eminent journalist and former ambassador to the US Dr Maliha Lodhi said “The stress on geo-economics is for the good but peace and prosperity that are being offered as the panacea needed some strategy to be realised”
Referring to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to New Delhi and the hopes it inspired, she said good neighbourly relations were a must but “neighbours have their limitations and strategies could not be based on hopes.”
Lodhi discounted the assertion by a scholar that the time of military solutions was over. She said that despite what President Obama had said in his important policy statement at the West Point Academy the other day, military component in external policy will continue to play its role. “We shall have to be vary in this fast changing world,” she said.
“In Pakistan we needed to align all our powers to put our own house in order.” For this we needed a business model based on leadership, an effective team, a plan and institutional support, the former high commissioner to Britain said.
Later in his concluding address the chief guest, General (retd) Ehsanul Haq, former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of staff Committee, also emphasised that all efforts should be directed towards the sole goal of achieving good governance and revival of the economy. The rest could take care of itself.
He surveyed Pakistan’s strategic environment and marked out the areas of concern in terms of uncertainty that loomed large over Afghanistan where though the Taliban may not return to power, could continue to harass the government in areas where the ISAF had not been able to subdue them.
The fall out of the drawdown was to be closely watched. He referred to US strategic partnership with India and the talk of Asia pivot and China’s Asia-centric policy, a climate in which Pakistan needed to adjust its seasons.
Earlier in the first session of the conference chaired by Sherry Rahman, former ambassador to the US and chairperson Jinnah Institute, papers were read by Russian scholar Yury Krupnov, Dr Nazir Hussain of Quad-i-Azam University and Chinese scholar Dr Hu Shisheng.
Dr Mohammad Hafeez of Punjab University, IPRI scholar Air Commodore (retd) Khalid Iqbal and Khwaja Khalid Farooq, former chairman of NACTA addressed the second session.
IPRI president Ambassador Suhail Amin and Kristof Duwaerts, resident representative of HSF thanked the participants.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2014.