Islamabad, December 15, 2014: A roundtable discussion on “Pakistan-Bahrain relations: challenges and opportunities” was held at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) here today. This was the tenth in the series of Pakistan’s foreign policy review project that the CPGS is conducting.
The discussion was chaired by Senator Sehar Kamran (T.I.), the President, CPGS; and the keynote speakers were Mr. Jauhar Saleem, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs who has earlier also served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Bahrain and Dr. Nazir Hussain, Associate Professor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.
The event was largely attended by academia, practitioners, journalists and university students. The speakers highlighted the bilateral cooperation and the role of the Pakistani Diaspora who are not only contributing in various professional fields but also a great source of remittances.
At the outset Senator Sehar Kamran remarked that Pakistan highly values its bilateral relations with the Kingdom of Bahrain. She however, observed that there is a dire need to explore more avenues of cooperation to work together for mutual benefits and socio economic progress of the two sides.
The recent visit of Bahrain King and MOU’s signed among both the countries were highly appreciated by the participants. However, it was recommended that Pakistan’s friendly relations with Bahrain do not commensurate with economic relations. Therefore, Pakistan should focus more on harbouring economic relations with Bahrain. The people to people contact, academic expertise/ educational exchange programme and mutual trade should be enhanced.
Islamabad, November 19, 2014: A roundtable discussion on “Pakistan-UAE relations: challenges and prospects,” was held at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) here today. It was chaired by Senator Sehar Kamran (T.I.), the President, CPGS, and was well attended by prominent foreign policy experts, academics, practitioners, journalists, CPGS team and university students.
The keynote speakers of the roundtable were Lt. Gen. (R.) Asif Yasin Malik H.I.(M), Former Defence Secretary and Ambassador (R.) Javed Hafiz.
The discussion revolved around five basic questions. They were: What are the areas of opportunities and cooperation for the improvement of relations between the two countries; the role and importance of Pakistani Diaspora in UAE; what is the future vision of Pakistan-UAE relations; we have discussed what UAE do for Pakistan, but what can Pakistan offer to UAE; how important is cooperation between the two sides on the evolving situation in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and India?
The participants of the roundtable gave, among others, the recommendations that, in order to improve Pakistan-UAE relations, the bilateral ties should be institutionalized rather than being conducted personally by the top leadership of both sides; given the changed nature of UAE job market, skilled persons from Pakistan should go for work to the UAE; and, in view of the proximity between the two countries, a high priority should be given to the export of perishable food items like fruits and vegetables to the UAE.
Islamabad, October 17, 2014: A roundtable discussion on “Deterrence Stability in South Asia: A U.S. Perspective,” was held at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), today. It was chaired by Lt. General (R) Syed M. Owais and was well attended by prominent defence experts, academics, practitioners, journalists, CPGS team and university students.
The keynote speaker of the roundtable was Dr. Peter R. Lavoy, Former U.S. Acting Assistance Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. The discussion revolved around Pakistan and India’s military asymmetry in South Asia, U.S.’s engagement in South Asia post 2014 and the Indian threat which Pakistan is facing today in the form of ongoing border skirmishes as a tougher and hawkish Modi regime sits in India.
It was recommended by the participants that Pakistan should more confidently present its own point of view and counter the misperceptions made by the people in West more effectively. Pakistan and the U.S.’s interests are interlinked but Pakistan cannot ignore its own defense compulsions.
The talk was followed by a lively question/answer session.
Islamabad, September 09, 2014: A roundtable discussion on “Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations: challenges and opportunites,” was held at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) here today. It was chaired by Senator Sehar Kamran (T.I.) and was well attended by prominent foreign policy experts, academics, practitioners, journalists, CPGS team and university students.
The keynote speaker of the roundtable, Ambassador (R) Khalid Mehmood, Director General of the Institute of the Strategic Studies Islamabad, gave a comprehensive and incisive presentation on the past and present relations between the two countries. That was followed by a presentation by Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal from Islamabad Policy Research Institute.
The discussion revolved around five basic questions. They were: What are the areas of opportunities and cooperation for the improvement of relations between the two countries; how can Pakistan improve its bilateral security and economic relations with Saudi Arabia; what is the future vision of Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations; how important is cooperation between the two sides on the evolving situation in Iran and Afghanistan; what is role of Pakistan workers and labour force in Saudi Arabia?
It was recommended by the participants that we should look into what Pakistan has to offer to Saudi Arabia? We need to build insitutions for bilateral consultations, relationships and formulate strategies for a robust bilateral relationship. We need to promote joint investment between the two countries. We have to stabilize our own country first and foremost. People- to-people contact should be promoted.
Islamabad, June 25, 2014: A roundtable discussion on “Pakistan-Iran relations: challenges and prospects” was held at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) here today. It was chaired by Lt. Gen. (retd.) Syed Mohammad Owais H. I. (M.) and was well attended by prominent foreign policy experts, academics, practitioners and university students.
The discussion revolved around five basic questions. They were: What is the nature of Pakistan-Iran relations in the post-Cold War era; what are the areas of convergence and prospects of improvement of relations between the two countries; how can Pakistan improve its bilateral security and economic relations with Iran; what is the future vision of Pakistan-Iran relations; and, finally, how important is cooperation between the two sides on the evolving situation in Afghanistan?
It was recommended by the participants that Pakistan needs to reset its foreign policy along the lines that would result in maximum advantage to the country. Also, it was suggested that Pakistan must work out its relations with Iran at all levels ranging from enhanced people-to-people contacts, greater interaction between think tanks, institutions, the media and the governments of both the countries.
Pakistan and India have shared a long history of conflict. The two countries have witnessed more ups and downs in their relationship, in a relatively short span of almost seven decades, than most countries do in hundreds of years. The relationship between the two South Asian neighbours can to some extent be explained by the subaltern realist theory.
According to the theory of subaltern realism, the third world states are weak and dependent, due to which their ability to focus on their long-term benefits is less that on the developed countries. As the third world countries which were established after colonialism came to an end in the subcontinent, Pakistan and India have always been dependent on bigger powers as far as their security and survival are concerned. The third world countries seek survival and are constantly in competition. Therefore, internal and external factors both act as catalysts in influencing the behaviour and decisions of these states.
According to the realist school of thought, the international structure of the world is inherently anarchical. There is no hierarchy of power. This anarchy in the international system forces these countries to be in constant competition with each other. They all seek survival and security. However, in order to understand and analyze the relationship between the two South Asian giants, one has to carefully look at their relationship through the prism of three levels of analysis, i.e., systematic level, regional level and the domestic level.
At the systematic level, Pakistan and India have faced conflict of interests at the geo-strategic and geo-political levels. Whether it was the conflict of disputed territories between the two or of being a part of different alliances, these two countries have always found themselves to be on the opposite sides. Pakistan and India have historically suffered from a security dilemma regarding each other’s military strength. That can be related to the alliance-formation of these states in time of need due to their dependence on developed countries. For example, Pakistan allied with the U.S. during and after the Cold War; while India, despite declaring itself as part of the Non-Aligned Movement, was being assisted by the former Soviet Union, especially in the military sector.
On the regional level, the relations between Pakistan and India directly have an impact on regional security and stability; this relationship is considered to be one of the most important ones in the world. The world views the relationship between the two countries of a highly volatile nature, mainly because of the traumatic ideological and political history shared by the two. This shared history between Pakistan and India comes with a baggage. The legacy of unjust partition resulted in territorial disputes and constant state of insecurity and tension on borders. The conflicts between the two countries have weighed down on the future of the two countries. Both states’ inability to solve these conflicts has raised much concern, not only within these two countries but in the world as well.
One of the most important points of concern between the two countries is Kashmir. Kashmir has been and still is a constant source of tension and a potential recipe of disaster between the two countries. That is why many have termed it as a “nuclear flashpoint”; just waiting to go off.
Since the inception of the two countries, there has been a huge third party interference. At times, this interference was for the sake of maintaining peace and stability in the region, while at the others it was not. Whereas some of the observers in both countries have referred to this third party interference as meddling, while others see it as a way of moving the dialogue process forward. These international actors like the United States have time and again helped propel the dialogue process forward and repeatedly urged the two countries to reach a point of detente in their relations.
It should be noted that over the last decade or so, this third party interference has decreased considerably. Much of it has to do with the two countries’ resolve to solve the underlying disputes and also because of the changing geo-strategic conditions of not only the region but the world at large. These geo-political and geo-strategic circumstances involve the decline of the stature and power of the United States as the sole-super power in the world as well as the rise of multi-polarity.
Moreover, it should be noted that India has always considered itself to be the regional hegemon of South Asia, whereas Pakistan has always refused to accept India’s hegemony. This defiance of Pakistan and its refusal to yield to India’s hegemony in the region and its demand to be treated on the same level globally has never been accepted by the Indian establishment and policy-makers. Hence, that has led to regional destabilisation and tensions.
The third is the domestic level. Domestic politics have deeply impacted relations between the two countries. Domestically, the ultra-right and the hard-line factions in both countries have maintained a constant pressure on the governments of both sides and on occasion have forced the countries to behave or adopt a certain policy which the governments in ordinary circumstances might not have taken. This appeasement to the right wing has been witnessed numerous times and has more times than not resulted in stagnation of the peace and dialogue process. In recent times, the 2002-2003 stand-off between Pakistan and India and the Mumbai attacks of 2008 bear witness to this fact. These tensions not only put a stop to the on-going peace process between the two countries but also held off any advances that might have accrued if the talks had continued. It would not be wrong to assume, perhaps, that the reason that Pakistan and India have not been able to achieve a breakthrough on a single core issue has been because of the internal domestic pressures. Ideological polarization can be considered as one of the factors which have impacted, rather severely, relations of the two countries.
Pakistan and India are neighbouring countries whose future is entwined and dependent upon each other. It is up to the two countries to find a way that leads to peace and prosperity of not only the two countries but also of the region.
Islamabad: Discussing Strategic Stability of South Asia, the defense analysts stressed that Pakistan and India must show urge to resolve all core outstanding issues to achieve ultimately peace and stability in South Asian region. Expert’s unanimous voiced to have composite dialogue process initiated as earlier possible time frame with people to people contacts, and trade relations having access coupled with free market access.
Speaking at a roundtable on “Strategic Stability in South Asia” organized by the Center of Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) here at Islamabad defense analysts comes up with conclusion that unresolved territorial disputes between Pakistan and India; strategic and conventional asymmetries; absence of plausible conflict and crisis resolution mechanisms; insufficiently institutionalized communication channels; the presence of non-state actors; and an emerging arms race instability are some of the factors shaping overall security environment in the South Asia.
While presiding a session CPGS President, Senator Sehar Kamran said that Pakistan and India should have to resolve core issues and come across with a positive character for the peace in Afghanistan and strategic stability. The war of economic prosperity is more important than military collusion so both counties should have to move forward setting aside hostility, enmity, suspicion and distrust. The situation after NATO drawdown from Afghanistan is not so promising in terms of regional peace and stability.
While raising questions she stressed state apparatus should have to work with regards to potential implications for post-2014 NATO drawdown from Afghanistan in terms of regional stability. It’s also important to note that how geopolitical and commercial interests of the major powers, in one way or the other, would be affecting the power balance in South Asia? The prospects of Afghanistan’s six immediately neighboring countries of effective cooperation to plug the spread of militancy, arms, drugs, human trafficking from Afghanistan in the post 2014 scenario also very much important.
The renowned defense and strategic analyst and writer, Brig (R) Feroz Hassan Khan, gave an insightful presentation regarding the strategic stability in South Asia. He talked about common belief shared by the world about Afghanistan’s uncertain future of post 2014. “I believe that two countries India and Pakistan have matured over the time since the nuclear explosion 1998” he said, adding he also talked about Pakistan’s positive approach to counter nuclear proliferation concern worldwide. He also appreciated that Pakistan pursued proactive nuclear diplomacy at world forums like recent nuclear security summit at Hague where Pakistan participated as an active responsible nuclear state. Talking about the non-state actors he warned that violent extremist organizations posing a serious threat to the internal security of Pakistan that should have to be dealt with the effective strategy. He pronounced strategic stability in south Asia in contemporary nuclear world order is under the impact of global arm race (vertical proliferation) and nuclear safety concerns.
While Lt. Gen (R) Asad Durrani said that situation in Afghanistan and how it unfolds in future is directly or indirectly linked with over all structure of strategic stability in the region. He further said the state apparatus should be given credit as Pakistan on the right track with regards to emerging situation in Afghanistan after 2014.
The roundtable was largely attended by Pakistan’s top academicians, representative of different organizations and research team of the CPGS.
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