Meeting challenges: Pakistan should focus on internal security, economy says Lodhi

Published: June 18, 2014
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Dr Lodhi supported the decisive step taken by the government to take action against the militants in North Waziristan.

Dr Lodhi supported the decisive step taken by the government to take action against the militants in North Waziristan.

A former diplomat has advised Pakistan to focus on internal security and economy to meet the challenges in the region after the drawdown in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan cannot go alone through the trouble situation lying ahead and must work in concert with regional countries,” Dr Maliha Lodhi, journalist and former ambassador to America said.

She was speaking at a roundtable dialogue, on “Current regional geostrategic outlook” said a press release issued by the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS), an Islamabad-based think-tank  that had organised the event at its offices here on Monday, In this context, Dr Lodhi supported the decisive step taken by the government to take action against the militants in North Waziristan, .

Dr Lodhi gave an overview of the emerging strategic trends at international and regional levels and their implications for Pakistan. She highlighted the geostrategic challenges for Pakistan and South Asia.

She said that the movement for establishing Islamic governments in Iraq and Syria by the extremist Islamic States in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has increased the sectarian fault lines.

“It will have domino effect and enhance the instability in the already volatile region.”

Commenting on the recent assertiveness of China and Russia, the former ambassador to US said, gas deal worth $400 billion between the two countries is an event which marks return to geo-politics in the region which is guided by geo-economics.  “Although US is still a global power, its capacity to shape world events is eroding. Pivot to Asia is uncertain but Chinese still view it as containment.”

Similarly, Dr Lodhi said, transitions are occurring in neighbourhood. US will leave Afghanistan by 2016, as it intends to implement ‘zero-option’. After ISAF forces withdrawal, responsibility will fall on the regional states to ensure security and stability in the ensuing uncertain environment.

Commenting on relations with Delhi, Dr Lodhi opined, though Narendra Modi government has taken a good start, Pakistan needs to be mindful of the national security team Modi has selected. “Pakistan should adopt policy of wait and see before making any overtures because we cannot be sure of what regional strategic outlook will precisely be,” she said. For these reasons geo-politics in the region is in influx.

The roundtable was attended by members of academia, diplomats and security experts.

An interactive question and answer session followed Dr Lodhi’s talk.

The CISS Executive Director Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi thanked Dr Lodhi for her perceptive insights and valuable analysis.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2014.

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