ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on Thursday held a seminar on Changing Foreign Policy Dynamics of Gulf in View of Abrahamic Accords: Impact on Pak-Gulf Relations.
The distinguished panel of speakers consisted of former Ambassador to the UAE Ghulam Dastagir; Associate Professor Qatar University and Secretary General of Kashmir Civitas, Dr Farhan Mujahid Chak; Joint Executive Director SDPI, Dr Vaqar Ahmed; Dean Social Science University of Wah, Dr Nazir Hussain and Dean Social Sciences IIUI Dr Amna Mahmood.
Acting President and Director Research IPRI Brig (retd) Raashid Wali Janjua said that the dynamics of relations with the GCC countries are in need of being explored to the maxim. He pointed out that undercurrents are in need of being studied in a proper manner and the potentials of human resource tapped upon.
Former Ambassador Ghulam Dastagir said that the ballgame of relations has changed altogether since many of the Arab states had made inroads with Israel. While referring to the Abraham Accord, he said that a new Quad has come into being, i.e., the US, Israel, UAE and India. “These are new realities, and we have to charter our interests in their midst,” he remarked.
He pointing out the salient features of interaction with the GCC, the former envoy said the trade volume is around $15 billion and a diaspora of 4.5 million sending in remittances to the tune of $15.5 billion per annum. He said Pakistan’s multifaceted relations are, nonetheless, growing and dependence oil and petroleum products as well as on LPG gas will be a corner stone of interaction.
He said that the UAE and GCC countries are keen to invest in Pakistan, as they are sitting on a portfolio of around $500 billion, and this is where Pakistan should come up with projects to drive in the money.
Ambassador Dastagir also underscored the need for buoying Pakistan’s manpower export in the high-end fields to create a more influencing mosaic inside the GCC.
Dr Farhan Chak, Secretary General of Kashmir Civitas, said that multilateral relations with the Gulf have not been exploited, and there is a need to sell Pakistan in a batter manner. Elucidating his experiences, he said around 180,000 Pakistanis working in Qatar are an asset, and they enjoy great reputation. He said, notwithstanding, the propaganda and smear campaign against Pakistan, the workforce have made a credible impact.
While pointing towards relations with Israel by many of the Arab states, he said Pakistan cannot do the same, as our values and historical synopsis differs and we stand acknowledged with the Palestinian cause.
The speakers said that the Abraham Accord is more of PR stuff and hot air, than anything on ground keeping in view the fact that 70 percent of people do not approve of relations with the Jewish state.
He appreciated Pakistan’s neutrality during the rupture of relations between Qatar and UAE-Saudi Arabia, and observed that it has won dividends.
Dr Nazir and Dr Amna were skeptical of Pakistan’s track record in diplomacy in the Mideast, and observed that national interests are in need of being pursued vehemently, rather than a conventional approach. They said Pakistan’s potential is still under-rated, and needs to be addressed more comprehensively in all walks of life.
Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director SDPI, said that Pakistan’s macro-economic indicators are doing well despite the COVID impact and a tough IMF programme. He said that a bumper crop and increase in exports will see through the economy from rough waters. He said that there is a need for broadening the economic base of interaction with six-member GCC and more trades tapped into. He said the UAE remains by far the largest export destination, and it is being used as a re-export hub to other countries of the world. “We need to broaden to non-traditional exports and touch-base on Information Technology and high-end products,” the SDPI director added.