The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) is a non-partisan research institute established with a vision to innovate future prospects for peace and security in the region and beyond through undertaking research on global security, geo-politics, peace-building and conflict resolution. To this end, CPGS, in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), organized a roundtable discussion titled, ‘Pakistan and SCO: Building Common Understanding’, at the CPGS office.
The roundtable was organized as part of the Centre’s ongoing project on ‘Regional Integration: Road to Peace and Prosperity’, which aims at promoting a common understanding on issues of mutual interest and explore avenues of cooperation, amongst the states of South and Central Asia. The roundtable intended to enhance understanding about the significance of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in promoting regional connectivity and building understanding of the benefits for prospective members like Pakistan, and the impact of their membership on the organization as a whole. Two esteemed experts – Ambassador (R) Akram Zaki, Former Secretary General for Foreign Affairs, Pakistan and Dr Mavra Innayt, Assistant Professor, School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) – discussed at length the various aspects of the prospective membership of Pakistan in the SCO. The discussion was chaired by General (R) S. M. Owais HI(M).
The roundtable delved into the history of the SCO, its core objectives, relevance in the world order as well as prospects for Pakistan’s membership of the SCO and possible avenues of cooperation.
The SCO is increasingly becoming significant both in regional and international affairs, due primarily to the following two reasons. First, the SCO states have vast natural energy reserves; second, they are a huge market for foreign exports and the third is their increased geopolitical significance in the Global War on Terror (GWoT). While initially the SCO focused more on internal security aspects – like the separatist and Islamist movements inside the member countries, currently its interests have expanded and are predominantly shaped by economic interests, regional connectivity and energy trade.
The SCO’s security and economic interests are now expanding to the South Asian region. Nonetheless, the collective desire to tackle non-traditional security challenges remains at the heart of the SCO coordination. During the last summit, for example, SCO countries focused on the situation in Afghanistan and matters relating to the extension of membership to Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iran, in addition to the usual agenda items of regional stability and economic development issues. This trajectory of the SCO agenda also highlights the intention of the current SCO states to develop a regional trade hub that includes Pakistan and its three neighbors; India, Afghanistan and Iran.
Dr Mavara Inayat
The roundtable was organized as part of the Centre’s Project JOHAR, which aims at promoting a better understanding of the contemporary nuclear debate through converging and synthesizing different perspectives in the second nuclear age. Its aims included understanding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) debate contemporaneously among the participants; critically analyzing its review process and the challenges that the upcoming Review Conference (RevCon) would be facing. Two esteemed experts, Dr. Tughral Yamin, Associate Dean at the Peace and Conflict Studies department, NUST and Munawar Saeed Bhatti, former Ambassador to the EU, Luxembourg and Belgium, graced the occasion and spoke on the subject at great length followed by a spirited discussion on various aspects of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and regime. The discussion was chaired by former Defence Secretary of Pakistan, General (R) Asif Yasin Malik HI(M).
In this context, the issues relating to nuclear disarmament, right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons were very coherently discussed. The main challenges faced by the NPT review process, i.e., modernization of nuclear forces by P-5, nuclear weapons free zone (NWFZ) establishment in the Middle East, progress on the 2010 action plan of the NPT RevCon and Iran’s nuclear programme were raised during the debate. The ‘exceptionalism’ approach exercised by the international community in implementing the nuclear nonproliferation norms came under criticism. The participants observed that the NPT is seriously eroding because of issues of noncompliance by state parties. The emerging geo-political issues, selective application in implementation of NPT clauses and the recommendations of 2010 NPT RevCons may become a pitfall for the upcoming 2015 NPT RevCon.
The roundtable was successful in producing a comprehensive and insightful analysis with the aid ofeminent scholars, practitioners and academics regarding the issues faced by the NPT RevCon process.
Ambassador (R)Munawar Saeed Bhatti
Former Ambassador to EU, Luxembourg and Belgium
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