KARACHI: “Resolution of all the conflicts must not be the prerequisite of cooperation among regional countries. Pakistan and other regional countries should draw examples from EU and ASEAN that how they strengthen their economic ties despite having numerous territorial disputes.”
These views were expressed by Dr Christian Wagner, Head of Asia Division, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin, Germany in a seminar titled, “Reinventing the Silk Route”, organized by Department of International Relations, University of Karachi on Thursday, 12th September.
He further said that enhancing trade only does not serve the purpose rather there should be substantive domestic reforms by having strong industrial base and communication networks. He pointed out that availability of alternate trade routes poses a challenge to Pakistan that how it portrays itself as a viable option to establish a trade corridor between Asia and Europe.
Dr Najam Abbas, Senior Fellow East-West Institute, Brussels, Belgium said in his address that the notion of strategic depth has become obsolete. Now it is time that how Pakistan establishes itself as a strategic link as far as both intraregional and interregional trade is concerned. While sharing the history of silk route he mentioned that contrary to middle ages, land based trade have become cheaper and quicker these days as compared to maritime trade. He mentioned the efforts of China that how the Chinese government is investing heavily on building railway networks to get quicker access to Asian and European markets for its products. He further asserted that for the revival of silk route political stability in Afghanistan is most crucial.
Saleem Aziz, Senior Analyst and Executive Director of SAHEE, NGO in his address further explained the historical importance of silk route. He said that foreign policy today should be based on establishing stronger ties among regional countries. There has to be enhanced economic cooperation among Central and South Asian countries as it is the need of the day. He urged both Pakistan’s and Indian governments to make serious efforts to end decades old animosity. Peace between both countries can guarantee their own economic growth but will be vital for regional stability. He suggested that the way forward for both countries is to follow the EU model that how European countries were able to put aside all the disputes and managed to create common economic and political institutions.
Prof Dr Moonis Ahmar said in his concluding remarks said that there is a need of a research institute or a think tank to further explore the feasibilities of reviving the silk route. He said that in this era of growing interdependence states should act more prudently as to how they can maximize their economic gains for the advancement of their societies. He mentioned an interesting fact about the in the next 1015 years the Arctic Ocean due to climate change will become convenient for maritime trade. He said that this may prove to be a game changer. The Seminar was followed by a lively questions and answers session in which both students and participants contributed.