No room for self-proclaimed, artificially boosted states in South Asia security matrix: Dastgir

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ISLAMABAD, Sep 20 (APP): Minister for Defence Engr Khurram

Dastgir said on Wednesday that in the South Asia security matrix,
there was no room for the self-proclaimed and artificially boosted
states.
He was addressing at the concluding session of the two-day
National Conference `Changing Security Situation in South Asia and
Development of CPEC’ organised by Islamabad Policy Research
Institute and the Hanns Seidel Foundation here at a local hotel.
The minister said that the recently announced US policy on
South Asia underscored a greater role for India in Afghanistan and
the region, while not acknowledging the exponential contribution,
counterterrorism success, and sacrifices of Pakistan for peace and
regional stability.
“There are strategic contradictions in the US approach, and
most key regional and global players have not supported this
declared US policy since it envisages India to be a Net Security
Provider in the region.
“Regional security in the 21st Century can only be ensured
through relationships and collaborations based on mutual trust and
equality,” he added.
He said that South Asia was undergoing an unprecedented
transformation due to globalized economic trends and rising
interdependencies, wherein the prosperity and stability of one
nation would be indivisible from others. “It is home to countries
that share much with each other culturally and geographically, but
ironically progressing independently rather than in conjunction”, he
said.
“The possible reason for limited cooperation lies in deep-
rooted historic political differences due to colonial legacies and
territorial disputes, which have not allowed the environment of
trust to prevail and is being exploited by the extra regional states
for their geopolitical interests.”
Khurram Dastgier said that political issues and conflicts had
not allowed the strategic and economic interests of the region to
take precedence. He said amidst these complex security threats,
China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of Belt and Road
Initiative (BRI) was a significant flagship project, which had
gained global attention and had the potential to bring a paradigm
shift in the destiny of this entire region. “But here the caveat is
that peace amongst the regional countries is a pre-requisite for
success of this initiative.”
The success of CPEC, he said hinged on the ability to deal
with intricate national security issues, forging national consensus
and preventing negative geo-political influences in the region.
“Cooperation between Pakistan and China is focused on economic
development through connectivity and is not against any other
country and seeks to establish and sustain long-lasting and mutually
beneficial relationships with the global and regional players,” he
added.
Meanwhile, there was unanimous agreement by the conference
delegates that China had never changed its stance towards Pakistan
and remained steadfast in supporting it at the international level.
China’s push to block anti-Pakistan statements in the recent BRICS
Declaration is one example of that. It was pointed that the CPEC is
offering a development counter-narrative to Balochistan’s
grievances, and the Government of Pakistan should involve the local
people and engage the country’s young men and women in CPEC
projects.
In the session on `Regional Security and CPEC’ chaired by Dr.
Zafar Iqbal Cheema, ?President and Executive Director, Strategic
Vision Institute (SVI), Dr. A. Z. Hilali, Chairman from the
University of Peshawar provided a detailed overview of China’s
economic development and said that CPEC was a recognition of
Pakistan’s strategic location.
Professor Dr. Moonis Ahmar, from the University of Karachi
discussed his paper on `Development of CPEC: Impact of Regional
Cooperation to End Extremism in the Region’. He said that engaging
youth in projects covered under CPEC particularly roads, railways,
solar and thermal power production would not only enhance their
talent and skills, but also utilize their energies in a positive
manner.
Dr Khurram Iqbal from the National Defence University in his
presentation opined that at the global level, America’s response to
CPEC was difficult to read, while the Corridor has made Russia’s
access to Warm Waters possible. Within South Asia, Afghanistan is a
reluctant supporter of CPEC given its own internal economic
imperatives; whereas Bangladesh is playing both sides with Maldives
and Nepal supporting the project enthusiastically. He highlighted
that India misperceived CPEC because it feared Pakistan might
convert her newly acquired wealth into military muscle and obstruct
India’s rise.
Discussing `CPEC’s Impact on Pakistan-Iran Security and Trade
Relations’, Dr. Muhammad Alam Khan from the University of
Balochistan said Pakistan had specific security policy for India,
whereas Iran felt threatened by Israel and the US. He stressed that
Pakistan should invite Iran to join CPEC to minimize the influence
of India in the region, especially in Balochistan province, in
addition to providing a direct link between China and Iran.
Dr Muhammad Mujeeb Afzal from Quaid-i-Azam University said at
the international level, India was pushing its non-violence and
neutrality propaganda, while at the regional level, it was the polar
opposite.
In his vote of thanks, Ambassador (R) Abdul Basit, President
of IPRI thanked the participants, media and the delegates for making
the conference a success. He appreciated China’s diplomatic support
by acknowledging Pakistan as a country on the front lines in the
struggle against terrorism and its great sacrifices and
contributions in trying to make the region a haven of stability and
sustainable development.