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ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar argue that South Asia grapples with multiple non-traditional security challenges including deteriorating air quality in major cities, the Covid-19 pandemic, poverty and under-development, gender discrimination, refugees, illegal trade, smuggling and drug trafficking.

Professor SPIR Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal summed up the discussion, saying that without cooperation it would be difficult to deal with non-traditional security because the repercussions of those challenges were not limited within the border and had a spill-over effect.

The speakers observed that currently security dynamics in international relations were skewed towards traditional issue areas, focused on military, strategic and power political aspirations of sovereignty-laden states engaged in zero-sum competition against each other.

This was the outcome of the conference titled ‘Securitising Non-Traditional Security Dynamics in South Asia: Contemporary Challenges and Future Trajectories.’ It was organized by School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), Quaid-i-Azam University in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF).

The purpose of the two-day current conference is to chart out the ways in which non-traditional security challenges in South Asia can be securitized and the opportunities it provides for regional cooperation.

Director SPIR Dr Farhan Hanif Siddiqi expressed that it was the last leg of the year-long collaborations of SPIR with HSF and hoped that many more continued next year. He expressed that the purpose of the conference was to bring voices from Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and rest of the region on that crucial subject.

Resident Representative, Hanns Seidel Foundation Pakistan Dr Steffen Kudella elaborated that academic research was objective, transparent, logically consistent, verifiable, honest, and lastly but most importantly relevant.

The HSF tries to strengthen this kind of research on non-traditional security issues in Pakistan and the region.

Registrar Quaid-i-Azam University Dr Raja Qaisar Ahmed stressed on the promotion of open spaces for such critical debates. He stressed that it was high time to go beyond the established narratives of security and build new knowledge for better future trajectories.

Professor of Public Policy, at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Dr Syed Rifaat Hussain explained the history and evolution of the concept of non-traditional security. He said that through the interplay of geopolitics and geo-economics the two created the modern world order. He further explained the features of the contemporary South Asian System through his 9-Ps model—People, Poverty, Power transition dynamic, Proliferation, Prolonged legacy of unresolved disputes, Pipelines, Proxy wars, and Peace processes were faltering Peace dividend was huge.

Lastly, he focused on how state was created as a moral and ethical community and not only as political community and that was why it needed to address the non-traditional security issues.

Dr Muhammad Mujeeb Afzal, Assistant Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations argued that “securitization theory has helped us understand the power play of politicians and decision makers in the formulation of national security policy.”

He maintained that the recent focus on the issues of non-traditional security was a result of changes in the nature of the audience as well as the composition of securitizing actors.

Professor and Dean, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India Dr Suba Chandran elaborated on conceptualizing and contextualizing of non-traditional security. He presented his five theses on the subject.

He argued that focusing non-traditional security in South Asia would give less dividend.

Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, at the National Defence University, Islamabad Dr Arshi Saleem Hashmi discussed the regional and transnational non-traditional security challenges and how the states after identifying them, may be able to come up with coordinated efforts to deal them.

Deputy Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad Dr Vaqar Ahmed discussed mainstreaming of geo-economics in South Asia. He argued that possibilities of intra-regional market diversification exist if liberal exchange of trade delegations is pursued and also that COVID-19 has given rise to new possibilities which could bring economies on compassionate grounds.

Assistant Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pakistan Ammara Durrani argued that Covid-19 has led to socio-economic inequalities and poverty. She highlighted the post pandemic trends and the mitigation strategies that can be adopted at regional and national levels.

Deputy Director and Associate Professor, Symbiosis School of International Studies, Pune, India Dr Sukalpa Chakrabarti discussed COVID-19 and Human Security in India. She maintained that the pandemic needs to be scrutinized from non-traditional security perspective and that policy interventions will be successful only if lends to comprehensive human security approach.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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