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KARACHI: Prof Vyacheslav Ya Belokrenitsky has said that restoration of direct air link between Pakistan and Russia, established in 1963 and cut off in 1979, could boost friendly and productive interaction between the two.

He was speaking at a two-day international conference organised by the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) at a hotel here.

Prof Belokrenitsky, Head, Centre for the Study of Near and Middle Eastern Countries, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow delivered a lecture on “Were There Other Options: Pakistan-Russia Relations.”

“As for Pakistan-Russia relations, we need not expect them to evolve dramatically. Step by step approach will serve better the interests of both countries and already existing plans and prospects of cooperation should be a guide,” said Prof. Belokrenitsky.

The first session of the second day was on Pakistan’s Foreign Policy which was chaired by Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General, Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).

Dr Moonis Ahmer from the University of Karachi while speaking on Post-Independence Compulsions and Pakistan’s Foreign Policy said that “crisis management mechanism in foreign policy is the need of the hour whether it pertains to Afghanistan, India, United States, Russian federation, Iran, Afghanistan and so forth.

Ironically, he added, unless Pakistan is economically vibrant, politically stable and with a leadership empowered with perseverance and vision, there is marginal likelihood of Islamabad achieving a stature in global affairs.

“A forward looking approach with perseverance and vision needs to be pursued in the realm of Pakistan's foreign policy so that the country is able to have a positive mark in the comity of nations,” he added.

Ambassador Zamir Akram, Adviser to the Strategic Plans Division, Government of Pakistan and former Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva talked about Outlook for the Future: Relations with China and the United States.

“In the post-Cold War world, increasing geopolitical confrontation between the major powers has accentuated the divergence between Pakistan and the US while Sino-Pakistan convergence has increased. Such convergence is critical not only for Pakistan’s security but its economic development as well,” he added.

The second session of the day was about Pakistan’s Security Challenges which was chaired by Dr Saeed Shafqat, Professor and Founding Director, Centre for Public Policy and Governance, Forman Christian College University (FCCU), Lahore.

Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan from NUST delivered a lecture on ‘The Neo-liberal Economic Order: Is it Working?’ in which he said that neo-liberal economic policies have severely jeopardized democracy in developing countries, including Pakistan, and have damaged democracies in countries which have implemented IMF supported structural adjustment programmes.

Dr Muhammad Zia Hashmi, Head, Water Resources and Glaciology, Global Change Impact Studies Centre, Islamabad talked about Managing Water and Food Security in Pakistan.

He said that climate change has become a security issue for Pakistan in terms of future water and food security that may lead to other internal/external security concerns.

Imtiaz Gul, Executive Director, Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad spoke on ‘Countering the Threat of Terrorism’ and stated that the emergence of a new Baloch coalition called Baloch Nationalist Army and its close nexus with the TTP further underline the proxy nature of the security challenges that Pakistan is facing today.

“The additional challenge is the publicly stated opposition to Chinese interests by some of the Baloch groups. That can be also viewed as a consequence of the mounting US-China rivalry,” he added.

A parallel session on Kashmir was the highlight of the second day which was chaired by Dr Farzana Shaikh, Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme, The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), London.

Altaf Hussain Wani, Chairman, Kashmir Institute of International Affairs, Islamabad delivered a lecture on Formulae for Resolving the Kashmir Issue in which he stated that empirical evidence shows that India has never been serous about resolving the dispute.

“After backtracking from international commitments on Kashmir, New Dehli invoked bilateral agreements to minimize the international community’s role and the scope of third-party intervention on Kashmir. It has since been India’s consistent position that issues, if any, between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally,” Wani said.

Dr Maria Saifuddin Effendi from NDU spoke about “Structured Violence in Indian Occupied Kashmir in the Last Ten Years” stating that in the last ten years India’s policies to suppress and violate human rights are an indication of the systematic genocide against the Muslims of Kashmir.

“Structural violence by the Indian government is ultimately leading to a gradual systematic elimination and genocide of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir,” Dr Maria said.

The third session of the second day was about Troubled Relationships which was chaired by Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel, Chairperson, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad.

Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah, Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters, delivered a lecture on ‘Implementing the Indus Waters Treaty.’

Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, spoke about ‘Are India and Pakistan Destined to Remain in Perpetual Hostility?’ and stated that although issues between Pakistan and India are complex and longstanding, progress is possible provided there is political will and commitment at the highest level.

The fourth session of the day was about Pakistan’s Economy and Connectivity which was chaired by Dr Rukhsana A. Siddiqui from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

Dr Kaiser Bengali, Adviser to the Chief Minister of Sindh for Planning & Development delivered a lecture on Gwadar, CPEC and National Development.

He stated that given the absence of surface or underground water sources, desalinating water from the sea appears to be the only option which is exorbitantly costly and, if charged at full cost, likely to render economic activity unfeasible.

“Herewith, it is proposed to allocated an additional one per cent of Gwadar port revenues to cross-subsidize water supply to Gwadar and to develop Turbat, with better water resources, as the commercial hub for Gwadar,” he suggested.

Dr Nausheen Wasi from University of Karachi talked about ‘Looking Towards Iran and the Central Asian States’ and stated that if Pakistan addresses its own structural hurdles, the volume of its bilateral trade in the region may enhance manifold to improve Pakistan’s economy.

The concluding session was about ‘Seeking Global Peace’ and the chief guest of the session is Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman, Senate Defence Committee, Co-Chairman, International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).

A roundtable on Seeking Global Peace was also held and the participants included Dr Jehan Perera from Sri Lanka, Dr Saba Gul Khattak from the World Bank, Dr Farhan Hanif Siddiqi from Quaid-e-Azam University, and Dr Irina N Serenko from Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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