Islamabad: Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Pakistan-China Institute, has welcomed the visit of President Karzai to Pakistan and termed it as significant for bilateral relations, as well as peace and stability in the region.
He was speaking to a select group at a special briefing of the Pakistan-China Institute where he referred to the recent Tripartite Dialogue amongst think tanks of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which PCI co-hosted in Beijing this August. He also mentioned that on September 9th, 2013, the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production would be visiting Kabul for a dialogue with their counterparts in the Afghan Parliament.
Raza Rumi discussed three critical dimensions to the relationships within the region: regional energy needs issues in extremism and terrorism, and the future of Gwadar port. The primary emphasis of his talk was on the energy factor, and he stated that the ‘New Great Game’ no longer had a militaristic aspect, but an energy oriented one.
Referring to the concept of a ‘Greater South Asia,’ he said there were factors that needed to be taken into consideration, such as the Baloch insurgency, the parallel development of the Chabahar Port from Iran to India, and infrastructural development in Pakistan, particularly road and rail links in Baluchistan.
Speaking on the trilateral cooperation between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Senator Mushahid Hussain said that the balance of economic, cultural and political power is shifting from West to the East, with the 21st Century generally perceived as the Asian Century.
He further stated that today, we are witnessing the emergence of a ‘Greater South Asia’ which includes the South Asian states with broader integral inclusion of China, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iran, knit together by trade, investment, culture, as well as cooperation in energy, economy, and education.
Emphasizing the need for trilateral cooperation among the three countries, he said as a neighbour of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, China is a pivotal, strategic stakeholder for stability in the region, particularly in the post2014 phase of the NATO/US withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also said that, “The Pakistan China Economic Corridor, a new model of economic development, can also benefit new emerging regional cooperation in a Greater South Asia, driven primarily by economy, energy, building pipelines, ports, roads and rail infrastructure, all which can transform the lives and future of the region.”
In addition, he pointed out that a major factor of concern was the lack of an institutionalized peace process in Afghanistan. Referring to the Beijing dialogue between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said that while China opposes American bases or an American troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, the Afghan delegate in Beijing had disclosed that Kabul and Washington were close to an agreement under which 20,000 American troops are likely to stay on in Afghanistan indefinitely.
Session chair, former Ambassador Akram Zaki, reviewed the historical context of the region, mentioning that current developments with regards to regional energy cooperation and infrastructural development were a continuation of initiatives that had been proposed over time by the countries involved, and were now bearing fruition.