Pakistan advocates for adoption of “soft balancing” approach to achieve lasting peace

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RAWALPINDI Jun 04 (APP): Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
(CJCSC) Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat has highlighted the need for adopting soft balancing approach to achieve stability and peace in the region and all over the globe.
“We have got to make sure that we have tried and reconcile the
extremes because that creates conflict and if you have balance the extremes you have to balance them out and we only do that in a way of a legitimate and legal way; use of force or kinetic means or threats of force or coercion of force to try and resolve problems is counterproductive so soft balancing is a mean and toll for stability and peace and that is what is require reinforcement, ” Gen Zubair said in reply to a question at the Shangri-La Dialogue organized by International Institute of Stretagic Studies’ (IISS), held on Saturday.
General said “I think what is the alternative to sort soft
balancing? Is it hard balancing so when I talked about soft balancing I am talking about trying to balance out interests; whether there are strategic interests, there are economic interests, there are diplomatic interests so those can be reconciled in a manner of constructive engagement. ”
The US Defence Secretary of State James Mattis was included among those who also spoke on the occasion.
Earlier speaking to the forum General Zubair said, South Asian stability was indirectly linked to that of Asia-Pacific; South Asia being the most populous, less affluent and conflict prone sub-region. Despite
unresolved territorial disputes and shifting geo-strategic realignments, Islamabad was proactively making efforts to reduce the strains on strategic stability.
Terming Asia-Pacific to be a mosaic of unique cultures that can build common grounds and said a constructivist approach can reduce the risks and build opportunities.
“It is our choice to rise peacefully and develop a shared destiny or become a victim of Prisoner’s Dilemma and deal with consequences of non-traditional and non-geographic security threats, such as the rise of DAESH, and crises in Korean peninsula; all pointing towards the volatility of the Asia-Pacific region.”
“All is not black: There are unmistakable positive trajectories. Asia-Pacific’s economic interdependence and liberalization have become a regional engine of growth and are strong incentives to avoid conflict. Such evolving economic interdependence has and can help to mitigate `conflict scenarios’.”
With respect to crises management, he put forward some trends and propositions about the interplay of Asia-Pacific and South Asia as evident on the geo-strategic canvas:
“The existing primacy of conflict management over conflict resolution may pose greater challenges for crises management.
” He said South Asian challenges towards crises management have increased owing to: Lack of mutual trust and political will, absence of dialogue and disinterest by some major powers in playing a role in resolving the outstanding disputes.
He said Daesh was an emerging threat. Maritime terrorism is gaining fresh impetus.
Threat of transnational terrorism by non-state actors may increase owing to availability of new technologies and the asymmetric strategies such actors have developed.
For piracy beefing up of maritime security is required he said adding fewer than 10% of global cross border refugees originate in Asia-Pacific, but the total population of refugees
from this region increased by 63% between 2008 and 2014.
“Pakistan is hosting one of the largest refugee population in the world and this has stressed our internal security environment. An aging population in Asia-Pacific is set to create a demographic tax on growth. Contrarily, a bulge of 700 million unemployed and less skilled youth in South Asia is a human resource management challenge.”
The CJCSC said technologically, cyber space has emerged as the global commons and carries with it the attendant security challenges. These trends play into Asian geopolitics and the potential for anarchic instability cannot be wished away.
While the emerging threats affect regional states differently, what is absent is an approach to shared threat perception.
Sharing his views, CJCSC said Pacific and Indian Oceans are large enough to accommodate common and even some competing interests.
“Soft balancing could be preferred strategy to manage conflicting interests. Another emerging determinant of crises is that the regional countries are likely to boost military spending, due to domestic
reasons and as a hedge against evolving uncertainties. We need to be careful about this phenomenon. ”
Such challenging environment, he said was affecting Asia-Pacific regional security begs answers to the question that “what should be the way forward”?
He said a successful crisis management model in Asia-Pacific cannot evolve without diplomatic engagement and economic involvement of major powers.
It is important to exercise restraint and normalize the political and military situation through `shaping an environment of trust’ by reducing `scale of military manoeuvres’.
Classical approaches like economic cooperation, collaborative security mechanisms, deterrence and diplomacy may be considered for crises management, he said.
For long term peace and stability in the region, conflict resolution strategies shall be central to addressing deep rooted problems, Gen. Zubair said.
“Balance of Power approach to address transnational terrorism threats will be insufficient. Efforts for multilateral counter terror collaboration on the lines of Quadrilateral Coordination Group offer prospects for dialogue and reconciliation. In this regard active diplomatic engagement may be pursued to manage the deepening fault lines. Crisis management through economic interdependence and trade promotion is the evolving paradigm, especially as envisaged in the One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategy, whose flagship project is China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). OBOR can dilute the incentives for conflict.”
On sub-regional basis, for management of relationships, following may be considered including; improvement of communication channels: both political and military levels.
Building confidence through measures like hotlines and advance notification mechanism for military exercises be also part of the stretegy.
He pinned the need for developing best practices models for crisis avoidance and crisis management.
“Promotion of arms control agreements. Keeping Indian Ocean Region
(IOR) immune from contestation in Asia-Pacific. Participation of South Asian powers in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which shall open new vistas for sub-regional cooperation and stability.”
He recalled that Pakistan has contributed to the security of Asia-Pacific through humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counter terrorism and counter piracy operations including contributing wholeheartedly to international efforts on humanitarian assistance
and disaster relief operations.
“As we speak today, one Pakistan Navy ship is in Sri Lanka for flood relief operations and humanitarian assistance to affected people.
Post 9/11, Pakistan has augmented international efforts for countering terrorism and extremism through active operations, sharing of intelligence and provision of unprecedented logistic support,” he said.
Pakistan has contributed significantly in the Combined Task Force-150 and in Combined Task Force-151, he said.
Pakistan’s commitment to international peace and security under the auspices of UN was well established. Currently, Pakistan is one of the largest troop contributors to the UN.
“Crises stability in Asia-Pacific region remains embedded in the policies and behaviour of major powers and individual countries. As a sequel, crises management shall remain dependent upon the choices of major powers and countries necessitating deeper engagement in the region. This is do able, but requires political will and courage,” he concluded.