IPRI – The Islamabad Policy Research Institute

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ARTICLE

Emerging Security Order in Asia Pacific and its Impact on South Asia

Introduction

A two-day international conference on “Emerging Security Order in Asia Pacific and its Impact on South Asia” were organized by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) on November 17-18, 2015 at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad. The conference comprised of four working sessions in addition to inaugural and concluding sessions. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence and Defence Production and Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was the Chief Guest at the inaugural session. The concluding session was chaired by Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs.

A total of 14 papers were presented during the conference. Eminent scholars from Pakistan and abroad (China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the US) participated in the conference. The High Commissioner of Australia also presented her paper. The objective of the conference was to discuss the emerging security trends in Asia Pacific, current policies of regional actors and emerging alliances. Likely policy options for Pakistan were also suggested. The changes that were considered significant in the region were China’s emergence as a major world power, the US rebalancing strategy, regional connectivity, and the impact of political disputes on trade and economic cooperation. The aim was to suggest a way forward for building a cooperative regional security order in the Asia-Pacific region, also termed by the US as Indo-Pacific.

Concept Note

 The Asia Pacific/ Indo-Pacific region is in world focus for its growing political importance, its fast economic development, and its strategic position on the sea lines of communication (SLOCs). It has 60 per cent of the world population, a GDP of more than US $40 trillion and hubs of economic power that now compete with the West. It has four sub-regions spanning the Asian continent bordering the Indian and Pacific oceans:   Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania and South Asia. Its seas command the vital and busy pathways of maritime activity. Three of the most important straits — Malacca, Sunda and Lombok — situated here permit shipping of trade and energy vital to the East and West. China’s rise as a world major power has added a new dimension to the region’s geo-strategic importance.

A regional security order which is a complex combination of actors and factors is no longer associated exclusively with political and economic interdependence.The Asia Pacific region has undergone fundamental changes in its regional organization, security order, and power structure in the post-Cold War era. The region has become a powerhouse of global economic and geopolitical transformation as part of Asian ascendance in comparison to the West which in general perception is no longer the world’s centre of gravity. In popular opinion, the focus has shifted from the Atlantic to the Asia Pacific since the end of the Cold War. The accretion of military power that inevitably followed the region’s economic growth is altering the balance of power within the region and between Asia and the West.

According to the western countries analysts, the key strategic issue today in East Asia is the rise of Chinese power. For nearly three decades the Chinese economy has been growing by 7 to 10 percent annually. It is being doubled every decade. China’s defence expenditure has risen by an even larger percentage. Chinese leaders assert China’s “peaceful development”, but western analysts for long accustomed to the power politics of the West have their doubts. They think China will exert its weight towards seeking hegemony in East Asia which might lead to conflict with the United States and Japan.  Another factor which has tilted the balance of power is Japan’s economic slowdown and relative decline in its influence in the region.  To hedge against a possible security gap, countries of the region — Japan, South Korea, India, Vietnam, Australia and others — are boosting intra-regional, bilateral trade, defence, diplomacy, selling military equipment to each other, and conducting joint military exercises, sponsored by the US which views China’s rapid growth with apprehension. This does not mean that the US is playing a back seat role in this strategy. Its decision to rebalance its forces so as to deploy 60 percent of its combat ships in the Asia Pacific region by 2020 did not come as a surprise. It has built a web of strong alliances around China’s periphery by developing cooperation with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and India. This proactive involvement of the US in the region, and its unabashed propping up of its declared strategic partners in South Asia as a kind of “counter weight” to China, only translates into what is generally and not so wrongly understood as its China containment policy. This has raised concerns in South Asia.

On its part, China is now attracting regional states with its economic power and is offering a competing vision of shared destinies in economic progress as a soft power to the US-centric “hub and spoke” system of alliances that was largely established in the post-World War II period. China’s alternative has largely been constructed around trade relationships and diplomatic initiatives manifest at the East Asia Summit, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)+3 forums, various Chinese bilateral free trade initiatives, and China’s “charm” offensive.

As a result, a new web of power relations is emerging in Asia today inspired by China’s rise and the perceived relative decline of the US. The countries of the region are bolstering mutual ties eclipsing the US-led model of alliances by a broader, more complicated and more diffused, web of relationships in which Asian countries are the primary drivers. This developing web has provided an impetus to the US new grand strategy in the region by leveraging relationships among like-minded countries to share the burden with the US of managing China’s rise and preserving a balance of power in the region.  Yet the current dynamics of the US-China-Japan triangle will continue to haunt the region and may even confront the present cozy ASEAN-driven model of security with new challenges.

Closer to more real fault lines than the specter of rising China is  the South China Sea issue that will remain a bone of contention between China and the other claimants – Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam on the one hand and between the US and China on the other. Lately Vietnam and the Philippines have also asserted their claims. ASEAN states are divided over the role of extra regional powers in the South China Sea. Some regional countries are leaning on the US to get more deeply involved, but China is averse to any outside interference and wants to resolve the issue bilaterally.

The Asia Pacific region’s diversity requires a security order of its own. China’s “new concept of security”  encourages  economic interdependence and stresses  on finding solutions of non-traditional security challenges like terrorism, environmental degradation, disaster management, water management, drug trafficking and health related issues.

Rising China, due to its capacity and stakes in the region will continue to be the key player in such an order. This might strain the existing structure of regional relationships. The important question is how the region would address the competing interests of China and the US.

With the current emphasis on economics as the driving force in international relations, regional flashpoints such as territorial disputes in the South and East China Sea, Kashmir, Tibet and the North Korean nuclear issue tend to get overshadowed. But that does not lessen the danger they pose to regional security as they continue to cause tension and mar growth of bilateral relations.

For South Asia, the strategic shift from Eurasia to Asia Pacific has become an urgent concern in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Geo-strategically, Pakistan is important for trade and commerce between South and Central Asia, East and West Asia. In its efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan has been contributing significantly to establishing a new security model in the region. Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan constitute a relevant regional power base in this respect. Pakistan can give practical shape to her proposal of providing “connectivity” to ASEAN via western China and Central Asian Republics by both land and sea through the Gwadar Port and the prospective China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which is introducing a new and positive dimension to the emerging Asia Pacific scenario.

Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Islamabad Office organized an international conference on “Emerging Security Order in Asia Pacific and its Impact on South Asia”in Islamabad, Pakistan on November 17-18, 2015. The conference discussed current policies of regional actors, future security developments, emerging alliances and suggested options for Pakistan to play its due role in the dynamics of Asia Pacific politics.

Scholars from Pakistan and abroad including Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the US presented their papers in the conference.

Conference Proceedings

The conference was held in six sessions (inaugural session, four working sessions and a concluding session). The salient points of the conference are as under:-

November 17, 2015

 Inaugural Session

In his welcome address, Ambassador Sohail Amin, President IPRI, greeted the chief guest, chairs of the sessions, speakers and the audience. He said that it was the policy of IPRI to organize national and international conferences on emerging political trends. The Asia Pacific region was in focus for its growing political stature, its fast economic development, and its strategic position on the Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs). The region was home to 60 percent of the world’s population. Three of the most important straits (Malacca, Sunda and Lombok) were situated in the region, through which goods vital to the East and the West travelled. Overall, the region was an economic powerhouse. He also referred to the popular opinion that the focus had shifted from the Atlantic to the Asia Pacific, and the West was no longer the world’s centre of gravity.

The recent geo-economic development in the region was the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The economic grouping was open for ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners (including China, Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand), as well as external economic partners, such as Central Asian states and the South Asian countries.

Major powers interest in the region was another development, which could impact the regional harmony. China’s “new concept of security” encouraged economic interdependence, while the ‘US, Asia Pivot policy’ was aimed at reinforcing US regional standing. So far, the pivot had shown a little specific impact on the broad pattern of US-China relations. Since the firing of a missile by an American naval ship close to a “Chinese construction site” in the South China Sea, the two sides had agreed to work out a protocol to avoid misunderstanding and incidents that could trigger escalation.

For South Asia, the strategic shift from Eurasia to Asia Pacific was a concern. Geo-strategically, Pakistan was important for trade and commerce between South and Central Asia, East and West Asia. Pakistan could give a practical shape to China’s proposal of providing “connectivity” to ASEAN countries via Western China and Central Asian Republics by both land and sea through Gwadar.

 Opening Remarks

In his opening remarks, Kristof Duwaerts, Resident Representative, Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), Islamabad Office said that Asia was an economically prosperous region. Geographically, the region stretches from Russia to East Timor, the Pacific borders vast parts of the Americas. The regional as well as the foreign powers, well aware of the region’s potential had been endeavouring to maintain, regain and strengthen their politico-economic role/influence. He further added that the foreign powers involvement in the region coupled with the subsequent realignments had impacted the security architecture. South Asia, being in proximity to Asia Pacific was the direct affectee of these developments. Meanwhile, the far off regions like the European countries also could not isolate themselves to the happenings in Asia Pacific.

Over the security challenges, Mr. Kristof said that traditional as well as non-traditional challenges were detrimental to international peace. He further argued that to counter these threats a balanced civil-military approach was required. Besides, it was a task for the international actors to pursue a collaborative strategy for world peace and the betterment of mankind. He said that the international conference on “Emerging Security Order in the Asia Pacific and its Impact on South Asia” would discuss various security related perceptions and build scenarios. Based on these deliberations, suggestions would be chalked out. These suggestions, in turn, would be useful in drafting of long-term, sustainable and future oriented policies.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence and Defence Production and Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, in his inaugural address as a Chief Guest, said that there had been a shift in the balance of power from West to East and after 9/11 this shift had become more apparent due to military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and also failures of regime change that had shattered the status quo in most of the Muslim world. He identified: “we have been facing the consequences of these policies based on military might alone”. He highlighted that twenty first century was termed as the Asian century; the focus had been shifting from the Atlantic to Asia Pacific. He said that in the present era, there was talk of greater South Asia driven by energy and economic cooperation which included China, Myanmar, Iran and Afghanistan and linkage of rail and road networks, energy pipelines such as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), Iran-Pakistan (IP) and Myanmar-China pipeline that presented huge economic opportunities.

He identified two basic trends in the region: First, new regionalism of which Pakistan was a part due to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the second was the concept of the new great game that depicted a mindset of the Cold War, primarily for the containment of China.  He recognized that these trends were reflected in the speeches of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (July 20, 2011)and President Obama (November 17, 2011). The concept of ‘New Silk Road’, the introduction of the term ‘Pivot to Asia’ and the shift in the US foreign policy towards Asia Pacific were highlighted.

He spoke of Chinese new leadership’s response to the US policies. He stated that Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Route converged only in one country, Pakistan. He mentioned that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a 15 year project starting from 2015-2030, roughly about US $ 50 billion worth, would be a game changer not only for Pakistan but for the whole region. He stated that India had been given a major role in the region on the pretext of a great game and the role of India under Prime Minister Modi had been disturbing for Pakistan as well as for other regional states. Apart from Indian policies and the violations of ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC), the inconclusive talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban had destabilizing effects on the region.

He highlighted three mistakes that had destabilizing global as well as regional impact. First the US went to Iraq without stabilizing Afghanistan. Afghan Jihad gave rise to Al-Qaeda while the war in Iraq had given rise to ISIS. Second, Indo-US deal that violated norms of non-proliferation regime and US laws showed the double standards of global order as Pakistan, Iran and India had been treated differently that gave rise to a new arms race in South Asia. Third, he said that the regime in Syria should have been tackled on the priority basis rather than first dealing with ISIS.

Session-I

Overview of Emerging Security Order in Asia Pacific

 Ambassador (R) Shamshad Ahmed, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan gave a talk on the“Emerging Trends in the Security Architecture in Asia Pacific”. He stated that the emerging security architecture in Asia Pacific was an extension of the global security paradigm as the world was marked by challenges of the strategic power game, nuclear security order, power politics, economic adventurism, military occupations, invasions in the name of self defence, and religion based extremism. He said that the end of the Cold War not only provided an opportunity to revert to the concept of collective security under UN auspices as a reflection of the new world order, but also engendered hope that peace would no longer remain hostage to heavily militarized two blocks. Contrary to expectations, the emerging reality was totally different as the concept of pivot replaced the Cold War containment policy in the name of peace and security in Asia Pacific.

He highlighted that the concept of the Cold War global security was replaced by security arrangement for regional as well as sub-regional levels and NATO with its new role to build coalitions to change the regime and wage war in the name of peace and security had been adjusting to new realities. He further said that nuclear arsenals had also contributed to shaping the global security architecture and nuclear states had been focusing on non-proliferation just to enhance their own political objectives. He mentioned that the world had witnessed the erosion of arms control and disarmament measures, development and deployment of new war fighting nuclear weapons and destabilizing effects of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) systems.

He said that power asymmetries as well as economic and social disparities and injustices had given rise to new conflicts. He identified that the events of the last decade had eroded the universal norms of collective security and states had to manage their security at regional level. In this context, the emerging security order in Asia Pacific looked like the revival of the Cold War, coupled with new realities where there were erosion of the role, authority and credibility of the UN which was no longer the sole arbiter of issues of global peace and security. He said that the Cold War was over, but the Cold War psyche had dominated the policy formulation process, a power led, oil and gas driven great game had serious repercussions for global peace and stability in general and for Asia Pacific in particular.

He said that while in other regions the countries had moved away from bitter grievances of the past, the Asian countries had continued to be a major global hot spot – tensions in the Korean Peninsula, volatile situation around the Strait of Taiwan, challenges of triangular or antagonistic relations among the US, China, Japan plus India and Russia had destabilizing effects on the prospects of peace and stability. He said that the rise of China had been a major factor to preserve the global balance of power and termed it as the only ray of hope for stabilizing Asia Pacific. He said that China had not responded to ‘Asia Pivot’ strategy militarily, but put forward the concept of revival of traditional silk route in the form of ‘One Belt One Road (OBOR)’ initiative involving not only the connectivity of land masses, trades and investments but connectivity of the minds as well. He said that this was the new approach which had never been practised in the past and it was aimed at linking Asia with other regions such as Europe and Africa and would bring peace and stability.

Dr. Dietrich Reetz, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, spoke on “Regional Compulsions, and Opportunities after US/NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan”. He said that the US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan was yet to be completed. The US and its allies were reordering the security paradigm and their commitment to the region. The reorientation in the commitment and the changing policies of the US and its allies would impact the regional security environment. Afghanistan and Pakistan being the prime regional actors would face the maximum repercussions. The dawn of new Cold War between the US and its contenders – Russia and China could make the region a battleground for geopolitical and geo-strategic interests. New regional alliances, and regional identities would emerge.

Referring to historical policies of Pakistan, Dr. Reetz said that the former President of Pakistan General Zia-uL-Haq’s policy of incorporating Islamist groups with mutual consent of the US proved detrimental to the region. The regional countries were still victims of the policies of 1980s. Pakistan’s policy of contending India through increased influence in the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and in Afghanistan based on shared religion, i.e. Islam, increased extremism in the region.

Post 9/11, the US policies in the region were highlighted. It was reiterated that the US had doubts about Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror (WoT). The US raised its level of cooperation with India. However, the recent interaction between the US and Pakistan military leadership (Chief of Army Staff, General Rahil Sharif visit to the US) was indicative of the fact that the US wanted to engage Pakistan in the emerging security order of the region. Moreover, the US was also trying to balance its ties with both India and Pakistan.

On Afghan situation and regional peace, he underscored that the contending India-Pakistan relations were an impediment in Afghan peace. He hoped that Pakistan and India’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) membership could open new grounds of cooperation between the two neighbours. He further argued that the US and China could be instrumental in normalizing ties between India and Pakistan. He concluded that the South Asian region was passing through a phase of pluralization and shared interests, which would shape regional security order in the near future. Pakistan could play a positive role in supporting the mega developmental projects in the region. Besides, Iran’s new approach in post-nuclear deal offered new opportunities as well as prospects of regional cooperation.

Mr. Takaaki Asano, Research Fellow, Tokyo Foundation, Japan delivered a talk on “US-Japan-China-Russia Relations: Conflict and Cooperation in Asia Pacific”. The talk primarily gave an overview of Japan, Russia and China’s cooperative regional role. The three players instrumental role in the Six-Party Talks was discussed. It was pointed out that these countries were successful in pacifying the nuclear North Korea. It was further argued that Japan, Russia and China were active members of economic and defence groupings. As members of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADDM), these three regional powers were contributing towards regional peace. It was also reflective of the cooperative trends at the regional level.

The US pivot to Asia/re-balancing strategy was viewed optimistically. The pivot was described as the US global posture, defining the US long-term strategy to sustain leadership. The pillars of the pivot were strong alliances, partnerships and economic cooperation with China. It was opined that the regional states, in particular the US allies were desirous of enhancing defence cooperation with the latter. The regional states aim was to modernize their weaponry and defence industry.

Mr. Bunn Nagar, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy and Security Studies, Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia spoke on “The South China Sea in ASEAN-US-China Relations”. He said that the South China Sea was now generally regarded as the main potential flash point for conflict in Southeast Asia. The China-ASEAN tensions over the Spartly and Paracel islands had intensified. The other potential regional flashpoints like the Malacca Strait, the Taiwan Strait and the Korean Peninsula had become manageable over the years. To mollify the regional states opposition over the South China Sea, China had employed economic diplomacy. The One Belt One Road (OBOR) was a step in this direction.

Mr. Nagara further argued that the regional states well aware of ASEAN centrality and the economic potential associated with it would avoid any drastic moves. The speaker also referred to the US military presence in the region and was of the opinion that the US defence cooperation with the Philippines and Vietnam could complicate the situation in South China Sea.

Mr. Inamul Haque, former Minister and Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Chairman, Board of Governors, IPRI, in the capacity of the Session Chair said that the US and China were both struggling for influence in Asia Pacific. China, the rising power was skeptical of the US ingress in the region, and viewed the ‘rebalancing strategy’ as a policy to encircle/contain China. While the US, the established power, was fearful that China’s unabated growth (if continued) could challenge the US international supremacy. Thus, the US-China competition was an example of a power struggle between an established leader of the world and an emerging power. This power struggle had impacted the political environment. The US had reinforced military alliances with the regional states. Meanwhile, China through its economic muscle was trying to increase its clout. The conflicting claims over the resource rich South China Sea (25 billion cubic meters of gas and 105 billion barrels of oil) between China and ASEAN were being exploited by the US and its allies. The India-US strategic partnership, maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region – including the Strait of Malacca and the sea lanes in the South China Sea were to downplay China’s influence. Indian endeavour to benefit from Vietnam’s energy resources puts it in direct clash with China’s claims over the territory (Indian state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) Videsh Limited signed an agreement with Petro-Vietnam to explore hydrocarbon in the South China Sea).

Session II

Rising China and the US Re-engagement in Asia Pacific

Mr. Ameen Izzadeen, Deputy Editor Sunday Times, Sri Lanka gave a talk on “Rising China and Regional Stability: South Asian Perspective”. He said that the political realism based on power and security existed during the two World Wars. Germany’s rise in post-World War-I period was based on the principles of power and security. He opined that the same situation was again emerging with the rise of China. China’s economic ingress in world regions made it an influential international player. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and BRICs Bank reflected China’s economic prowess. China had also started investing in troubled regions of the world. Chinese economic investment in Afghanistan was a testament to this. Moreover, China’s political assertiveness had also intensified in world affairs. Since 2004, the use of Chinese veto power in UN Security Council had substantially increased. Moreover, during the recently held 70th anniversary celebrations of World War II, China displayed its lethal weapons capability of intercepting missiles, thus, portraying its world power status.

As regards, China’s bilateral ties with Sri Lanka, it was reiterated that China was the largest donor of Sri Lanka. Unlike, the Western countries, China did not link economic aid with the issue of human rights. China had also inked an agreement with Sri Lanka over the improvement of maritime security in the Indian Ocean. The US and India were concerned about China’s growing influence in South Asia. To counter Chinese moves, India was trying to influence the foreign relations of its smaller neighbours (implementation of ‘Indra-Doctrine’). Mr. Izzadeen suggested that the South Asian countries should not become part of the power game of the West.

Dr. David R. Jones, Visiting Faculty, School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad delivered a talk on “Advancing Defence Cooperation in Asia Pacific and the US Re-balancing Strategy: The Reality of an American-Indian Strategic Partnership”. The talk, while discussing the strategic partnership between the US and India highlighted the hollowness in the relationship. It was underscored that the regional developments, in particular, the rise of China had raised India’s importance in the US calculus. Washington’s tilt towards New Delhi, had enhanced the latter’s stature diplomatically. India had become the recipient of the US weaponry as well as economic investment. However, how strong is this strategic partnership or to what extent, the strategic partners would side with each other was yet to be seen.

He further stated that seen from India’s angle, the US was not the sole supplier for India’s defence, rather, other countries like the UK (as apparent from Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to London) were willing to compete in the lucrative Indian market. Secondly, India was not a submissive ally, and the possibility that India would go to any extent to please the US hardly existed. Therefore, the perception that India would deploy naval boats in the Indian Ocean to deter the Chinese vessels could turn out to be a miscalculation. Another factor, which New Delhi cannot ignore is Beijing’s veto power. India would require the US as well as the China’s support to attain the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) membership. Any drastic policy shift against China could be provocative, and further embolden Beijing over India’s UNSC membership. Therefore, India would have to follow a balanced, pragmatic path, while dealing with the US and China. Similarly, because of the US support to India, over the latter’s disputed ties with Pakistan, the perception that Pakistan would be abandoned on Delhi’s behest carries little weight. The talk concluded that the “India-US strategic partnership” was more of an “American-Indian commercial relationship”.

Dr. Swaran Singh, Professor and Chair, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharal Nehru University, New Delhi spoke on “Conflict and Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific: Indian Perspective”. Dr. Singh identified that the rise of new powers in the region had changed the name of the region as the rise of the US in 1950s-1960s in the region led to call it Far East; the rise of Japan in 1970s-1980s changed it to East Asia while the region was renamed as Asia Pacific with the emergence of China as the rising power in 1990s-2000s. He said that after 2010, new term Indo-Pacific was being used to make India integral to new architecture. He highlighted that open oceans had become the centre of all human activities and Indo-Pacific showed a paradigm shift in global politics – the rise of Asia. He said that accumulation of economic resources in the hands of emerging powers unsettled the political order and there were expectations that the US, China and India would play a major role in this new power configuration. He mentioned that the US was desirous to use Indo-Pacific to sustain its twenty first century leadership and had endorsed India’s role in the region as net security provider. He said that India viewed two parallel networks emerging in Asia Pacific region: Security network led by the US and economic network led by China. He identified that both networks had been trying to build economic as well as security partnerships and India did not want to choose between the US and China, rather it sought to balance its engagement with both.

Dr. Rizwan Nasser, Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, COMSATS, Islamabad, Pakistan delivered a presentation on “Conflict and Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific: Pakistani Perspective”. Referring to Robert D. Kaplan, Dr. Nasser said that the Indo-Pacific was a region in its broad expanse from the East coast of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Bay of Bengal, Strait of Malacca to Japan. He said: “the rising powers and strongest militaries of the region, including China, Japan, India and Pakistan make the region central locus of power in the 21stcentury”. He further added that the power struggle, interstate tensions and the unresolved disputes make the region volatile. The decline of the US and the rise of China had been yet another prevalent trend. While discussing the US policy in the region, he said the US tilt towards India, in particular the support to latter’s ‘Look East/Act East Policy’ was an endeavour to abet Indian regional presence, primarily to counterbalance China. Meanwhile, to engage China on the regional front was also a challenge for the US.

South Asia was described as a conflict prone region, dominated by the legacy of India-Pakistan rivalry. The Indian government headed by the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi had further strained the bilateral ties. The region’s economic vehicle South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was also a victim of hostile India-Pakistan relations. The Indian arms buildup was a source of concern for other regional actors. Pakistan’s defence buildup was to balance the power with India. In this regard, the foreign powers, in particular, the US could play a pivotal role in normalizing the relations between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan’s regional standing was also highlighted. It was reiterated that Pakistan’s geo-strategic location coupled with the country’s ties with the P-5 states as well as the regional powers, including Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey made it a “pivot state in Indo-Pacific.” He reiterated that a stable Pakistan guaranteed stable South Asia and stable South Asia meant the rise of new powers in Indo-Pacific.

Major General Noel I. Khokhar, Director General, Institute for Strategic Studies Research and Analysis (ISSRA) and the Chair of the Session remarked that China’s growth had raised concerns in the US. The US ‘Asia Pivot Policy’ (later renamed as ‘Rebalancing Asia’) was a reaction to China’s rise. He quoted five principles of co-existence that Chinese Prime Minister had highlighted in his book. First, need to build trust and good neighbourly ties; second, work for mutually beneficial cooperation; third, stand together and assist each other; fourth, enhance mutual understanding and friendship and fifth, be open and passive. He highlighted that South Asian countries had benefited from China’s rise as China was the second largest trading partner of India, first largest trading partner of Pakistan and had been the largest exporter in Sri Lanka.  He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would give an impetus to regional connectivity. The economic corridor would not only enhance the North-South link, but would also strengthen the East-West connectivity towards Afghanistan and India.

 November 18, 2015

Session III

Regional Connectivity and Trade in Asia Pacific

 Mr. Fazal-ur-Rehman, Executive Director, Pakistan Council on China, Islamabad delivered a talk on “ASEAN and Geopolitics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)”. He said: “the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among 12 countries, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, and Vietnam”. The economies in the TPPA contributed 40 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The economic body had adopted ‘Second Generation’ trade rules and regulations (much more advanced and sophisticated than adopted at the time of WTO negotiations). As regards, TPPA and regional politics, it was opined that the US central role in the economic grouping reinforced the speculation that the grouping was aimed at countering China’s economic influence. In this backdrop, TPPA could be called as the economic backbone of the pivot to Asia. Over China’s inclusion into the TPPA, it was pointed out that the trade provisions enunciated in TPPA were in sharp contrast to Chinese labour policies.

The talk concluded that East Asia was an economically dynamic region. The region’s economic groupings – Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and the TPPA portrayed the prevailing economic/regional integration, carrying lot of economic dividends provided by major powers in the region, like China and the USA work together to reduce tension in the region by resolving territorial disputes in South and East China seas by using a win win cooperative strategy..

Dr. Liu Zongyi, Research Fellow, Institute for World Economic Studies and Centre for Asia Pacific Studies, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) Shanghai, China shared his perspective on “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: An Opportunity for Regional Prosperity”. He said that in the backdrop of the US rebalancing, there had been an increased militarization in the region. The US allies, in particular Japan and India were also empowering their defence forces. Japan’s military buildup and involvement in South China Sea dispute along with India’s ‘Act East Policy’ were destabilizing the regional harmony. He remarked that the growing US ingress in the geopolitical and geo-economic affairs of Asia Pacific might be devastating for the region. He further added that the security structure of Asia Pacific was not an inclusive structure, but China and other smaller states were excluded from it.

Dr. Zongyi referred to the China’s endeavour for a harmonious and just politico-economic order. The Chinese proposed ‘Asian Community of Shared Destiny’ which was discussed. This strategy had three pillars: “a community of common interests, a community of common security and a community of culture and people”. The OBOR initiative was the materialization of Asian Community of Common Destiny and needed the cooperation of regional as well as extra-regional countries, including Japan and the US. The CPEC was also a part of OBOR. The corridor would enhance Pakistan’s regional position, empower the country’s economy and most importantly, would strengthen Pakistan’s resolve against militancy.

Mr. Javed Jabbar, former Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Chairman, J.J. Media (Pvt.) Ltd. and Project One (Pvt.) Ltd gave a talk on “Revitalizing SAARC for Economic Prosperity”. The talk discussed the peculiar characteristics of South Asia, the problems being faced by the region, the regional discord and the way forward. South Asia was a diversified region. The regional countries were connected by geography and history, but divided by nationality. The establishment of the regional economic grouping South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was a positive step towards regional integration. However, SAARC over the years had failed to grow as an organization. The intra-trade of SAARC stood at 6 percent (in 2014), down from an earlier 20 percent (in 1948). Under the SAARC charter, 16 areas of cooperation had been identified, namely agriculture, electricity, finance, trade, tourism, environment, etc. Institutionally, SAARC Secretariat, Arbitration Council, Agreement on Customs Procedures, South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), SAARC Food Bank, SAARC Charter for Democracy, the SAARC visa exemption scheme, the South Asian University, the SAARC trade fair had been set up.

The lingering political and territorial disputes among the regional states were a major reason for SAARC’s slow progress. The speaker referred to the Lok Sabha Elections-2014 and Elections of Bihar-2015, and said that during these elections the Indian politics primarily revolved around the hatred slogans against Pakistan. The communication gap within the SAARC region was another major impediment in region’s slow progress. There was a general ignorance about each other among the SAARC states. Media could play a positive role in positive narrative building and bridging the divide between the South Asian people. Media could also highlight the problems being faced by the SAARC countries. For instance, youth bulge was a challenge as well as an opportunity for the member states. Urbanization and environmental security were also challenges in the region. Moreover, issues of corruption, nepotism and governance were common to all SAARC members.

To revitalize SAARC, regular/frequent dialogue among the SAARC states, operationalization of SAFTA, conduct of joint ventures and establishing of Joint Economic Zones (JEZs) was the need of the hour. In addition, to move forward in the era of globalization, tourism and regional connectivity were required. The easy access to corridors for transportation of goods (on a reciprocal basis) was a must. Lastly, the SAARC countries could learn from the cooperation practices of other regions. India, being the largest country should be a positive trend setter.

Ambassador (R) Fauzia Nasreen, Member IPRI Board of Governors and Head, Center for Policy Studies, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, being the Chair of the Session concluded the session. She remarked that geopolitics and geoeconomics were interlinked, and both were crucial for the regional prosperity. She referred to the US led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. She said that both these initiatives were important in the emerging geostrategic architecture. The response of regional countries to these economic endeavours was significant. She said that in the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Manila, Philippines focused towards the inclusive economic growth of all regional countries. On SAARC’s development, she said that the slow progress of the regional grouping was a source of concern. She remarked that the socioeconomic development of South Asia was depended on the SAARC’s active role.

 Session-IV

Power Politics in the Asia Pacific: Implications for South Asia

Mr. Majid Ali Noonari, Area Study Centre, Far East and Southeast Asia, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Pakistan shared his views on “India as a Linchpin of US Strategy in Asia Pacific and Policy Options in Pakistan.”He said that the US had identified India as a balancer in Asia Pacific back in 2002. India was initially reluctant to accept the role of a linchpin. In 2011, the US announced its pivot to Asia policy. The policy focused to reinforce the US ingress in the region and counter the Chinese influence. Later, the policy was renamed as “Rebalancing Asia”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had supported the idea of Asia Pivot and during the ASEAN Summit (2014), India unveiled a new “Act East Look West” policy. During the summit, Indian leadership criticized China’s belligerent stance over the South China Sea. India supported the ASEAN claimants, in particular, the Philippines and Vietnam over the South China Sea dispute. On Pakistan-China ties, the speaker opined that China was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s East Asia policy.

Dr. Sinderpal Singh, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Strategic Studies, National University of Singapore delivered a talk on “Geo-strategic Competition in the Asia Pacific Region and Security Implications for South Asia”. He said that the notion of Asia Pacific was introduced after the Second World War. The Cold War witnessed the emergence of Asian tigers in East Asia. Secondly, the US tried to counter Soviet influence in the region. India, due to Cold War politics, was not an active player in the region. However, in post-Cold-War era, India re-oriented its policies towards the region. The map of Asia was being re-imagined. The idea of the Asia Pacific, which made good sense as a framework for regional order in the late 20thcentury, was giving way to another construct: ‘the Indo-Pacific’. This changing use of geographic terms had real-world consequences for how states and leaders perceived the regional strategic order, the challenges it faced, and the ways to address them. The concept of Chinese containment after the demise of the former Soviet Union and economic liberalization policies of India became reasons in policy shift of India towards the region. Mr. Singh said that India was keen to facilitate the extra-regional powers in Indo-Pacific in the post-Cold War era. The idea of renaming the region as Indo-Pacific was advantageous for India. It increased Indian presence and role in the region. China did not welcome this development and perceived India as the member of the rival coalition against China. This perception had developed mistrust between the two countries.

Mr. Singh said that there were two competing narratives over the regional definition, i.e., whether China was a part of South Asian region or not? But in recent few years, China had become an active player in the region by offering economic benefits and opportunities of regional integration which made it a member of South Asian community. He highlighted two main challenges to Indo-Pacific security, i.e. maritime security and competition of China and the US and its allies over dominating role in the region. Indo-Pacific and Chinese maritime Silk Road were contesting and competing narratives. China responded to India by further increasing the influence in South China Sea. He concluded that the politics of the region were rapidly changing, therefore, it was too early to decide that who would be the dominating power.

Mr. Zhao Lijian, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of China to Pakistan delivered a talk on “Major Powers Interests in Asia Pacific: A Way Forward for Building a Cooperative Security Order in the Region”. The talk primarily highlighted China’s constructive role in Asia Pacific. The speaker was of the opinion that to move forward in the era of globalization, connectivity and regional integration were required. He said that the Belt and the Road initiative was an endeavour towards peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. The One Belt One Road (OBOR) would physically connect markets of Asia, Europe and beyond, and would create strategic channels, trade and industrial hubs. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was also a part of OBOR, which would connect the Northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang with the Pakistani port of Gwadar through a forward-looking network of roads. China had also established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); the AIIB had a pivotal role in supplying the source of funds in promoting the connectivity and integration.

Over China’s present day role in international politics, the speaker referred to China’s foreign policy principles of “Amity, Sincerity, Mutual Benefit and Inclusiveness”. He said that China believed in territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference (in each other’s internal affairs) and peaceful co-existence. He further said that China was wrongly portrayed as hegemon. China was not seeking a dominant role, rather, China’s economic prowess was a stabilizing factor, and an opportunity for the developing world to integrate with the Chinese economy (China’s major trading partners included Japan, Hong Kong, EU, the US and ASEAN). China’s perspective on security threats and world peace was highlighted. It was reiterated that China supported peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue or negotiations. China had recently cut down the number of its troops by 300,000. Besides, China had not built military alliances with regional states nor was it trying to draw any country out of Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, China was an active member of regional defence and security forums (like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization–SCO and ASEAN Regional Forum–ARF). Through these security platforms, terrorism (and other related threats) could be addressed. Mr. Zhao also mentioned that China supported peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, and was ready to be a facilitator in the peace process.

H.E. Ms. Margaret Adamson, High Commissioner, Australian High Commission, Islamabad shared her views on “Building a Cooperative Security Order for Asia Pacific: A Way Forward”. She said that the relationship between China and the US would be the defining factor in shaping the security architecture of Asia Pacific. She highlighted that Australia’s engagement in the region was based on compliance with international law and Australian Prime Minister had discussed this approach with President Obama. She said that Australia firmly believed that maritime security and economic growth complemented each other and without maritime security, the possibilities for economic development and regional cooperation would not be materialized. She identified that regional peace and security could be enhanced by adopting transparent defence policies. She said that every region had its own peculiar issues that needed viable regional arrangements. She mentioned that maritime security architecture in Indo-Pacific was based on coalition task forces dealing with non-traditional security threats. She concluded that a cooperative security order for Asia Pacific region must be based on consultative and cooperative mechanism.

Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi, Executive Director, Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and Chair of the Session talked about Asia Pacific’s dynamism and the challenges being faced by the region. He said that the region was economically prosperous. The region was home to the growing economies of the world. It accounted for 30 percent of global exports and 2/3rd of foreign exchange reserves. The US and Western Europe trade with the region stood at US $ 1 trillion. Ambassador Naqvi also referred to the North-South tensions, China-Japan dispute (over the East China Sea), conflicting claims in the South China Sea and the stalemate over the India-Pakistan talks. He said that these conflicting/competing claims among the regional actors could be a threat to regional harmony and prosperity. The assertive/hegemonic posture of regional actors and the involvement of foreign powers could infuriate the regional balance of power. He also remarked that “the Indian Ocean does not belong to India”.

 Concluding Session

H.E. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the Chief Guest for the Concluding Session, viewed the prevailing politico-economic and security architecture of Asia Pacific optimistically. He said that the multilateral dialogue forums in the region were mechanisms of shared and inclusive regional leadership. The economic/defence forums like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+) had integrated the regional states. Foreign players were also part of these regional groupings.

Mr. Aziz said that the US rebalancing strategy towards Asia Pacific had considerably reinforced US alliance structure in the region. Japan, South Korea, ASEAN states, Australia, New Zealand and India were the US allies in the region. The US also actively participated in the regional groupings. Recently, the US had launched the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Another important regional development was the Chinese led One Belt One Road (OBOR). China, with its 20 percent share of the world population and having surpassed the US economically in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) might be the new engine pulling along the world economy (China’s GDP at PPP is US $ 17,632 billion, while the US GDP at PPP is US $ 17, 416). The OBOR would initiate economic activity in the region, and would further boost China’s economic growth. China along with Russia was also developing the trade/energy links with Eurasia. The SCO was an important organization in this regard, besides, BRICs Bank, Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and Silk Road Fund had been established.

Pakistan’s geo-strategic significance in the emerging politico-economic environment was visualized. It was reiterated that Pakistan’s unique location at the crossroads of South, Central and West Asia, placed Pakistan in an advantageous position. Pakistan could be a gateway to landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs). Through the CPEC, ASEAN region could be connected to the markets of Central and West Asia. The CPEC economic benefits for Pakistan and the region at large were highlighted. It was pointed out that the economic development through regional connectivity would enhance foreign investment in Pakistan. The economy of the country battling terrorists for more than a decade would have a sigh of relief. The negativity associated with the economic corridor was refuted and the perception that the Pakistan-China partnership was targeted against any country was negated. Mr. Aziz said that it was unfortunate that some regional actors were trying to divert attention away from the importance of CPEC. India’s opposition to CPEC was apparent. The stalemate of India-Pakistan bilateral talks were primarily due to Indian stubbornness. Further, it was argued that Pakistan’s foreign policy was based on the principles of amity and cooperation. Pakistan was desirous of establishing mutually beneficial relationships with the regional as well as global players. China, the US and Russia were important pillars in the newly emerging economic and security order of the region. Pakistan had Strategic Dialogue with both the US and China, and had also developed robust ties with Russia. Pakistan and the US were expanding bilateral ties, with focus on trade and investment, education, science and technology, energy, climate change, and regional integration. The US had also reaffirmed its support for the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project.

The talk concluded that Asia Pacific was a dynamic region. Given the major powers interest in the region, the politics of “Re-balancing” and the beginning of “new Cold War”, would continue to haunt the region. However, the common challenges of terrorism, climate change and environment, regional connectivity and trade could be a rationale for regional and foreign powers cooperation.

Mr. Kristof Duwearts, Resident Representative, Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), Pakistan Office, Islamabad in his concluding remarks appreciated Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) for successfully conducting two day conference on the important subject of “Emerging Security Order in Asia Pacific and its Impact on South Asia”. He hoped that the deliberations of the conference would have educated the audience, and the conference recommendations could be a guide to the policy makers.

Ambassador Sohail Amin, President, IPRI, in his vote of thanks appreciated the scholars who presented their papers and the audience for their valuable contribution and gracious presence. He also thanked the Hanns Seidel Foundation for their support in organizing the conference. He said that the deliberations of the conference, in particular, the speeches of the Chief Guests, the Chairpersons and the scholars had given an insight into the conference subject. He added: “Now we were in a better position to understand the emerging security order in Asia Pacific and its possible implications for South Asia”. He said that the other world regions, in particular South Asia, which happened to be the least integrated region, could learn from the cooperative practices of the East Asian economies. He hoped that the conference recommendations would be useful for the policy makers. He also informed that the proceedings of the conference would be compiled and published in the form of a book in the next few months.

 Recommendations

  • In the past three decades, the Asia-Pacific has emerged as the second if not the largest engine of global economic growth. It is home to three of the four largest economies in the world. The increasing trade figures are indicative of the extent of interdependence between the economies of China and other Asia-Pacific countries which is the foundation of the phenomenal prosperity of the region achieved during the past three decades. Pakistan needs to develop deeper politico-economic relations with economically advancing countries of this region for reaping economic benefits.
  • Currently the unfolding conflicting policies of the US led coalition’s military strikes against ISIS, at the same time coalition’s support to the moderate Syrian opposition groups in their war against Asad regime, and Russia’s air strikes against the ISIS but Iran and Russia’s support to Asad regime against the moderate opposition groups (Russia does not recognize the moderate opposition fighting against Asad regime) are of concern for peace in the region. These conflicting policies of major powers in the Middle East and the Indo-US nuclear deal granted to India without granting a similar deal to Pakistan are a source of disturbance to South Asia as well. These polices are undermining the peace of not only the Midle East and South Asian regions, but the world at large. In this scenario, Pakistan needs to pursue a pragmatic foreign policy and it should try to become a part of any reconciliatory process to help resolve the issue through dialogue whenever such a process starts.
  • China’s answer to the Asia pivot of the US is a One Belt One Road (OBOR) vision. It involves the connectivity of the masses, land and sea routes, trade and, most significantly, of minds which have not been practised before by any state. It is a bridge of unprecedented nature and magnitude. Indo-Pacific region and South Asia require stability through balance. Initiatives like SREB (Silk Road Economic Belt) and MSR (Maritime silk Route) have the potential to put Pakistan in the centre of the emerging economic hub of the world. The CPEC is a 15 year project and is a destiny changer for the region. The emergence of China is creating a new hope in the Asia Pacific region. China’s policies will stabilize rather than destabilize the world order. It also needs to be acknowledged at this point that, however laudable, the regional projects such as the Maritime Silk Road and the One Belt One Road (OBOR), in their implementation will require region-wide cooperation, confidence and trust. Disputes will militate against these projects. In view of the aforementioned developments, there is a need for Pakistan to keep its focus on the completion of CPEC and meet project deadlines to draw maximum economic and strategic benefits.
  • The CPEC is a connectivity project. It’s not only an economic project, but also a political, societal, security and cultural project. The success of CPEC needs not only endeavours from China and Pakistan, but from the region. To achieve this objective Pakistan and China should enhance interaction with other regional countries to win their support for the CPEC.
  • The China-Pakistan friendship is built on a solid foundation and needs to be consolidated through the younger generation. In the future both sides should pay attention to enhancing the people-to-people exchange among the younger generation.
  • For a long time, the Asia-Pacific and South Asia had remained largely insulated in terms of security dynamics. After the end of the Cold War, India’s entry into the Asia-Pacific region and its institutions broke down this insulation between the two regions. Due to the rise of the Indo-Pacific idea and China’s unease, India is attempting to prevent China’s presence in the Indian Ocean. The result of this contest will have important ramifications for South Asian countries. Hence, there is a need for cooperation and review meetings between project management groups, ministerial meetings and exchange of regular delegations between South Asian neighbours. In this evolving scenario where India’s influence at the world stage is growing, Pakistan should focus on increasing its regional influence by developing good relations with all major powers and regional Muslim and ASEAN countries.
  • Pakistan’s geographic location lends it a central position in the regional geopolitics of South and Central Asia. A stable and strong Pakistan guarantees stable South Asia and stable South Asia means rise of new powers in Indo-Pacific region which in turn can create a favourable balance of power and establish durable peace and prosperity. Therefore, to act as part of the balancing forces in Asia Pacific politics, Pakistan requires to focus on its economic development and widen its strategic outreach.
  • With assertive Indian policies under Modi, Pakistan is banking on the US to help reignite bilateral talks so that Pakistan and India could resolve their disputes and work together to achieve South Asian integration; which will provide an opportunity for socioeconomic development in accordance with the themes of CPEC, IP, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor. The permanent membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) seems for Pakistan to be one of the few available post-Afghan war opportunities of regional cooperation and stability, as an alternative to the stalled process of South Asian integration.
  • All parties wish for prosperity and stability in South Asia, which can only be guaranteed with durable peace based on sincere efforts by all the countries of this region to resolve their bilateral issues on the basis of mutual concern for each others’ interests. For Pakistan there is a need for exploring ways in which it may become an asset for all the major powers and the regional countries, etc. It will help Pakistan in its economic development and add to its strategic significance.
  • Pakistan’s strategic focus on other issues should not result in discontinuance of its official policies on Kashmir. To achieve a sustainable peace and stability in South Asia and maintaining a credible strategic deterrence, efforts should be made to resolve the Kashmir dispute through a sustained dialogue in the light of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Increasing growth rates, expanding middle class and rising power of civil society and media in South Asia is becoming increasingly integral to a larger region of Asia-Pacific. Expansion of SAARC is a reflection of the rising confidence among South Asian countries. SAARC member states need to deliberate and evolve shared understanding and strategies to resolve their political differences and disputes to enable them become politically and economically more integrated for making a valuable addition to evolving discourses on the future of the security architecture in Asia-Pacific. In this context, Pakistan should play a leading role in strengthening SAARC. Pakistan should also convince SAARC countries to support Chinese permanent membership of the organization.
  • For achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan a holistic and all inclusive regional peace process in South Asia can become a game changer if regional players want to realize the benefits connected with the intra and inter regional cooperation. Pakistan can potentially play a mediating role in regional cooperation initiatives.
  • Pakistan’s struggle to maintain a strategic balance in South Asia remains a crucial factor in ensuring peace and stability in the region. A post – nuclear era has proven that nuclear parity with India has been a crucially stabilizing factor in the region. Therefore, the US needs to balance relationship with India and Pakistan by offering a nuclear deal to Pakistan on the same terms and conditions as it had signed with India.
  • The Asia Pacific region provides new markets for Pakistani goods and can balance the dependency of Pakistani economy over the Western markets. Pakistan should encourage Asia Pacific states to invest in Pakistan reviving its traditional relations with the East Asian and ASEAN countries.
  • The specific interests and issues affecting different regions of the world have shown that global multilateral institutions need to be strengthened through regional arrangements. More intensive efforts are needed if neighbouring countries are to reap the mutual advantage of regional economic integration. They should help each other in times of natural disaster and to combat transnational crime. They should also collectively stare down terrorism and commit to global good governance.
  • The future prosperity and the safety of the region will depend on maritime security and marine resource protection. There is a need to establish a Maritime Architecture of Regional Countries where they can work and exercise together and build links for better understanding and creating
  • A cooperative security order for the Asia-Pacific region must be founded on the basis of consultation and cooperation. To build the strategic culture, the regional countries should overcome the contemporary and future challenges. While, at times, consultation might not resolve problems, it does make the search for solutions easier and diminishes the risk of miscommunication and miscalculation.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the speakers and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.

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