Remarks by Sartaj Aziz at concluding session of seminar titled Emerging Security Order in Asia-Pacific and its Impact on South Asia

Islamabad, November 18, 2015 (PPI-OT):Ambassador Sohail Amin

Mr. Kristof Duwaerts

Distinguished participants

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I feel honoured to address this august gathering of eminent scholars and researchers for a very interesting theme – the Emerging Security Order in Asia-Pacific and its impact on South Asia. Ambassador Sohail Amin and the Islamabad Policy Research Institute deserve credit to have brought together experts and scholars from the region. Indeed, I hope that the deliberations and discussions of this important forum will be shared with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2. Geo-political and Geo-strategic developments in the Asia-Pacific have been moving rapidly in the recent past. The US brought greater focus on the region by launching the ‘Asia Pivot’ in 2011. The Pivot, renamed as ‘re-balance’ strengthens alliances with Japan, South Korea, India, ASEAN countries as well as Australia and the New Zealand. Greater interaction by the United States with fora like Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), East Asia Summit (EAS) and more recently Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has underlined the growing importance of these regional arrangements.

3. Likewise, China has unveiled the plans to revive the ancient Silk Road by undertaking massive infrastructure projects and adding value to ports around the Silk Road. You are well aware about China’s One Belt Road (OBOR) initiative. It has two components; the overland Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the Maritime Silk Road (MSR). OBOR’s ambitious project coupled with China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) highlights the changing global power dynamics, in the context of much talked about “Asian Century”. China, with its 20% share in world population and having surpassed the United States in terms of purchasing power in 2014 is engaged in several diplomatic initiative to boost the economic growth of the region and create a win-win situation for all the participants.

4. This Geo-political realignment has two dimensions which enhance its significance. One is the growing cooperation between Russia and China to develop trade and energy connectivity in Eurasia and second, the creation of several important new institutions like SCO, BRICS Bank, Asia Infrastructure Bank and Silk Road Fund.

5. Pakistan is the regional round about located at the crossroads of South, Central and West Asia, Pakistan is uniquely located to gain from stability and peace in Asia as a whole. These expectations are based the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC. It is a mutually symbiotic project serving energy and transport requirements across South and Central Asia with the aim to link to shipping routes of the Arabian Sea. The strategic port of Gwadar is the hub around which CPEC rotates. Thus, ASEAN as a whole can be connected to the markets of Central and West Asia, adding another dimension to market competition and economic diversity in the region.

6. The CPEC is the only corridor which is connected to another corridor and helps provide landlocked countries with access to sea. Massive investments in infrastructure envisaged under CPEC seek, inter alia, to tackle the menace of terrorism. The size of the investment over the next 15 years when materialized, will equal the cumulative gross FDI inflows in Pakistan since its creation.

7. Cooperation between Pakistan and China are focused on economic development through connectivity and is not against any other country. Pakistan seeks to establish and sustain long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with the global and regional players in Asia. Pakistan has the distinction of forging and maintaining Strategic Dialogue with both the US and China. We have vibrant and robust relations with another power in the region, i.e. Russia. From Pakistan’s perspective, China together with the United States and Russia, are important pillars in the newly emerging economic and security order of the region.

Distinguished Participants,

8. Pakistan believes that a resilient U.S.- Pakistan partnership is vital to regional and global peace and will bolster the mutual commitment of the two countries to democracy. Pakistan and United States are further expanding bilateral ties, with increased focus on trade and investment, education, science and technology; clean energy, climate change, and regional integration.

The two countries intend to focus upon accelerated macroeconomic cooperation through the Economic and Finance Working Group as a key element of the larger Strategic Dialogue Framework between the two countries. The US has also reaffirmed its support for the Afghanistan – Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, Central Asia – South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000), Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan – India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project, along with other measures to enhance regional economic connectivity and growth.

9. It is unfortunate that some other countries in the region are trying to divert attention away from the importance of CPEC. India’s loud objections to CPEC and their attempts to gain support of elements hostile to Pakistan in the region are ill-advised. Pakistan has had to overcome many challenges in its bilateral ties with India in the past. However, the recent deviation of India from all invitations to dialogue and peace belie its commitment to peace and harmony in the region. While Pakistan favours normalization of its ties with India, we also expect reciprocity from India with respect and dignity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

10. While the theme of the Seminar emphasizes the evolving dynamics in regional and super-power context, the most viable option for peace and stability in Asia-Pacific, is a form of shared regional leadership that is inclusive not only of the major powers but also of other key players in the region. This mode of regional leadership is the best manifestation of international governance. It has the support of the largest number of stakeholders.

11. The key multilateral dialogue forums in the Asia – Pacific region are mechanisms of shared and inclusive regional leadership viz: Asia – Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the extended East Asia Summit (EAS), and the newly established ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+). These regional forums have demonstrated a remarkable capability to nimbly adapt to changing balance of power in the region. There is a place under inclusive leadership for various leadership roles played by great powers and small states alike.

While the merits of this approach cannot be overlooked, territorial and border disputes in the region continue to have their strong bearing in the region and if left unresolved, politics of ‘re-balancing’ and the beginning of a ‘new cold war’, will continue to haunt us. Given that major powers have so many interlocking interests and convergences on trans-border issues like cyber-terrorism, climate change and environment, UN peacekeeping, connectivity and open lanes of trade, one feels optimistic about the future of Asia – pacific region provided a rational and mature approach is adopted by all the stakeholders.

For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: +92-51-9205494
Fax: +92-51-9204202
Cell: +92-336-5644459