Pakistan And Eurasian Heartland Connectivity: Towards Socio-Economic, Academic, And Legal Cooperation
By News Desk
Two-day International Conference (21st-22nd September) on ‘’Pakistan – Eurasian Heartland Connectivity: Towards Socio-Economic, Academic, and Legal Cooperation’’ was held at Area Study Center (Russia, China & Central Asia), University of Peshawar, Peshawar. First day of the Conference was conducted in two sessions. The main goal of the International Conference is to enhance closer cooperation and connectivity within Eurasian countries. The objective is to deliberate upon the ways and means for enhancing trade, economic, cultural, educational, and industrial links between Pakistan and the Eurasian heartland for shared growth and prosperity.
Day first of the conference was well attended by the worthy Ambassadors of various countries to Pakistan and renowned subject experts and scholars from all across Pakistan.
The theme of the first session was ‘’Pakistan- Eurasian Connectivity: Analyzing Opportunities and Challenges”. The session was commenced with the key note address by Prof. Dr. Shabir Ahmed Khan, Director, Area Study Center (Russia, China, Central Asia), University of Peshawar. He welcomed all the participants, speakers and worthy Ambassadors. He highlighted the significance of Eurasian region. He enlightened the audience about regional connectivity and associated benefits for integration because of regionalism. Prof. Dr. Shabir shed light on important multilateral regional arrangement programs, i.e., CAREC, BRI, ECO, CPEC, Mizar-e-Shareef-Kabul-Peshawar, etc. While concluding his speech, he stated that joint efforts are required to enhance research & academic cooperation between Pakistan and Eurasia.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Mazhar, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of the Punjab, Lahore stated that universities are the driving force for integration and academic learning. He enlightened the audience about the Regional Integration Center (RIC), University of the Punjab, Lahore and its initiatives for joint collaboration among regions. Prof. Dr. Saleem stated that if universities strive towards enhancing research dynamics via students and faculty exchanges, it will enhance people-to-people contacts, prosperity, and cooperation.
Mr. Khalid Taimur Akram, Executive Director, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad welcomed all participants and Ambassadors. He explained the concept of regional connectivity and also establishment of regional integration center at various universities. He stated that the aim is to have joint efforts to enhance academic cooperation, fellowship programs and research initiatives. He also highlighted the significance of Eurasian Industrial Research Center that is to establish market links between Pakistan and Central Asian SMEs sector. Mr. Khalid Taimur Akram enlightened the participants about Eurasian Legal Center, facilitating regulatory regimes and laws with other regional countries.
His Excellency Aybek Arif Usmanov, Ambassador of the Republic Uzbekistan to Pakistan addressed the audience online. He expressed his gratitude to all worthy speakers and Ambassadors. He highlighted the legacy of Zaheer-ur-din Babur, Allama Iqbal and Rehman Baba in contributing to peace, cooperation, and friendly regional ties. He shed light on the significant initiatives taken by His Excellency Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan for regional connectivity. H.E. Aybek Arif Usmanov talked about the mega development projects between Central Asia and Pakistan for enhanced cooperation. He also discussed Pakistan-Uzbekistan cordial relationship in terms of trade development.
Prof. Dr. Nadeem Ahmed Chaudhry, Pro-Vive Chancellor, University of Sialkot expressed his views on regional connectivity between Eurasian region and Pakistan. He stated that academic institutions play a vital role in enhancing regional integration and socioeconomic indicators. He highlighted the importance of Eurasian Industrial Research Center established at the University of Sialkot. He stated that through joint academic and industrial research, Pakistan can develop new mode of market collaboration and technological transformation.
Second session was commenced with the speech by His Excellency Yerzhan Kistafin, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Pakistan. He enlightened the audience about Kazakhstan and Pakistan bilateral relations. He stated that Pakistan is a golden gate for Kazakhstan as it provides a great way to reach warm waters. Likewise, Kazakhstan is a golden gate for Pakistan to access Eurasian Economic Union. H.E Yerzhan Kistafin stated that this is the time to revive brotherly relations between Central and South Asia for regional connectivity and unity. He stated that People-to-people dimension is significant to strengthen relations between regional countries.
His Excellency Ulanbek Totuiaev, Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic to Pakistan expressed his views on Pakistan and Central Asian countries. He highlighted investment opportunities in Kyrgyzstan. He explained that there are many investment opportunities in Kyrgyzstan for enhanced regional cooperation. He also shed light on the initiative of direct flight commencement between Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. He stated that South Asian countries can invest in many domains because Kyrgyzstan has potential in diverse fields.
Mr. Zahid Latif Khan, Chairman, Islamabad Stock Exchange gave speech on Trade and Transport Connectivity for Enhanced Regional Economic Growth. He stated that for regional cooperation, comparative advantage is important and we need to understand its relevance. He suggested that energy cooperation is necessary between Central and South Asia. However, infrastructure development is a hindrance. Therefore, it must be resolved via mutual accords and agreements by regional countries.
Mr. Mian Abdul Rauf, Former Advocate-General Islamabad & Prosecutor-General of Pakistan under the Protection of Pakistan Act gave speech on understanding Legal Landscape, Legal Barriers to Regional Connectivity between Pakistan and Eurasia. He stated that modern infrastructure, information technology, legal regimes, and advanced transport system are the barriers for connectivity. He suggested that dispute resolution mechanisms and legal frameworks are required to resolve common issues.
Prof. Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Professor, Social Sciences Department, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad shared his views on regional connectivity imperative for shared prosperity. He stated that without regional connectivity, countries are unable to build economic cooperation. This implies huge shared responsibility on all regional states. Prof. Dr. Zafar Nawaz stated that Central and South Asia have many similarities, i.e., culture, religious, historical, spiritual etc. Thereby, role of academic institutions is pivotal to rejuvenate the historical relations between Pakistan and Eurasian region. While concluding his speech, he stated that in the 21st century, we all must move ahead for shared future and prosperity.
The sessions were moderated by Dr. Fouzia Hadi Ali, Director, Regional Integration Center (RIC), University of the Punjab, Lahore. It is noteworthy that the conference was well attended by students and renowned scholars, experts, academicians, and policy makers of Pakistan.
Two sessions were conducted on the second day of the two-day international conference (21st-22nd September) on ‘’Pakistan – Eurasian Heartland Connectivity: Towards Socio-Economic, Academic, and Legal Cooperation’’.
The theme of the first session was Developing Trade and Economic Connectivity. Dr. Nadeem Ahmed Ch, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Sialkot was Chair of the session. He stated that Pakistan desires stronger relations with regional countries. He discussed the benefits and opportunities that Central Asian Republics can offer for Pakistan. Likewise, Pakistan has pivotal position for Central Asian countries in many fields.
His Excellency Andrei Metelitsa, Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to Pakistan addressed the audience online. He stated that Belarus is enhancing its diplomatic efforts and global outreach for better regional integration. He stated that Eurasian Economic Union plays a vital role in regional connectivity and Belarus is also member of that forum. H.E. Andrei Metelitsa stated that Asia is an important region for Belarus because of immense mineral potential and economic opportunities. He also enlightened the audience about Pakistan-Belarus relations (economic, academic, military cooperation) and prospects for enhancing deep cooperation.
Prof. Dr. Mahboob Hussain, Chairman, Department of History and Political Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore gave speech on Reviving Historical Silk Routes with Central Asia. He gave a detailed historical background of the Silk route, connecting many countries. He stated that such routes are vibrant in the present times and enhance socioeconomic and cultural linkages among different nations. Prof. Dr. Mahboob stated that Central and South Asia have great historical and cultural linkages. The legacy of great dynasties in South Asia were established in Central Asia. He discussed that trade routes have created more cooperation than challenges. He also shared analysis on revival of Silk Route in the contemporary times and gave suggestions for enhanced connectivity.
Professor Sohail Shahzad, Former Vice Chancellor, Hazara University and Professor, Law College, University of Peshawar enlightened the audience about Legal Framework for Regional Cooperation and Existing Problems. He stated that international laws are the direct outcomes of trade. He stated that for competitive advantage in products and its trade, international laws help to resolve conflicts among countries. As demand and supply of products require regulatory or legal regimes. Prof. Sohail Shahzad stated that the rule of law and order is significant to sustain economy. Therefore, trade regulations are necessary to manage economies of states worldwide.
Dr. Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, Chairman, Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar enlightened the audience about Central & South Asian Regional Connectivity: Relevance & Prospects for Economic Cooperation. He stated that there is an international academic disconnect. Therefore, connectivity is a dire need of time because international relations dynamics are changing. He stated that there is an international academic disconnect. Dr. Syed Hussain discussed that BRI, CPEC, CASA, TAPI, all are connectivity or development projects that will enhance regional and people-to-people contacts.
Mr. Hassan Daud Butt, Chief Executive Officer, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (KP-BOIT) shared his views on Enhancing Regional Connectivity: Towards a Regional Arrangement for Cross-Border Economic Activities. He highlighted despite sharing geographical proximity, we live in a least integrated region. The region needs to be integrated with the aim to promote trade relationships as a prosperous and more developed South Asian region can help the region in creating better employment opportunities. Economic growth will also help in playing a major role in bridging the trust deficit. He also highlighted that Connectivity of Policy is possible through forging strong synergy and broadening extensive consultation for harmonizing policies that we need to develop dynamic, multi-pronged approach to adopt new policy instruments and formulate structural reform in order to make space for added growth and sustainable economic momentum on “win-win principles”. Lastly, he recommended that Academia, think tanks and research organizations need to play a significant role in enhancing better cooperation from the grassroots to the top-level administrative units.
Prof. Dr. Adam Saud, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bahria University, Islamabad gave online speech on Pakistan-Eurasia: Building Greater Trans-Regional Connectivity. He gave a detailed presentation on Pakistan’s economic and strategic potential. He also explained Pakistan relations, military cooperation, and trade linkages with Eurasian countries. Dr. Adam also discussed recent developments between Central Asia and Pakistan for inclusive economic progress projects. He shed light on Afghanistan’s importance for trans-regional cooperation. He stated that people-to-people connectivity is significant. In this regard, best example can be witness from China-Pakistan friendship.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Khan, Professor, Department of Politics & International Relations, International Islamic University, Islamabad expressed his views on Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Contours for Eurasian Region. He stated that foreign policy is the instrument of international relations between states. Likewise, diplomacy is the instrument of foreign policy, which paved the way for political achievements and economic uplift. He gave a detailed overview of historical background of countries relationship and international relations. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Khan discussed Pakistan’s foreign policy contours towards Eurasian countries, especially Central Asian countries. He stated that foreign policy of Pakistan is important and laid down the foundation for cooperation between Central and South Asia. He expressed his views that with peace in Afghanistan, more prospects for collaboration would be created between Central and South Asia.
The theme of the second session was Regional Connectivity: The Academic Perspective. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Mazhar, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of the Punjab, Lahore was the Chair of the session.
Professor Inayat, Principal, Khyber Law College, University of Peshawar presented speech on Lawfare Challenges to Regional Connectivity and Counter Mechanism. He stated that we need to understand nature and background of laws. He explained that international law contains broad principles and norms. No country can achieve benefits without having connectivity and connectivity requires regulations for smooth relationship. Prof. Inayat also shed light on the concept of regionalism. He gave detailed overview of regulatory regimes to overcome common challenges in present times.
Dr. Fazal Wahid, Area Study Centre (Russia, China, & Central Asia) University of Peshawar enlightened the audience about Afghanistan: Prospects and Challenges to Regional Connectivity. He gave detailed overview of Afghanistan’s situation amid historical background and recent scenarios. He also discussed flawed U.S. policies in Afghanistan. He stated that once Afghanistan was the hub of regional trade activities. He suggested that there must be an agreement between regional countries that all spoilers must be kept out of the region so that peace in Afghanistan can prevail.
Dr. Khurram Iqbal, Head of International Relations Department, National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad presented speech on Regionalization in South Asia: Prospects & Challenges for Pakistan. He gave five major reasons that hindered regionalization in South Asia. He stated that despite having opportunities, South Asia is the least regionalized region. Dr. Khurram Iqbal stated that for regionalization, a strong support from global hegemon is always needed. However, in case of South Asia, India has not played its productive role to promote regionalization. He also shed light on the civilizational linkages between Central and South Asia. He suggested that we should opt for untapped existing potential in Central Asia.
Dr. Minhas Majeed Marwat, Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar discussed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Regional Integration. She stated that regional connectivity helps countries to overcome barriers. It allows countries to enhance cooperation in many diverse fields, i.e., transport system, smooth flow of goods & services, ideas, and innovation. Dr. Minhas stated that CPEC will enhance multidimensional cooperation not only between China and Pakistan, but also other regional states. She stated that CPEC can be a journey towards regionalization in a globalized world. She stated that Pakistan has been playing a significant role for regional peace and integration.
Dr. Musawar Hussain Bukhari, Chairman, Political Science Department, Islamia University of Bahawalpur (IUB), Bahawalpur gave speech on Role of Academia in Enhancing Regional Connectivity. He stated that socioeconomic, legal and academia are playing their role for the sake of connectivity, development, peace and prosperity. He explained that authority, socio-cultural dynamics and academia are the pillars. In this regard, academia has three major roles. Dr. Musawar Hussain emphasized on the important role of academia and researcher for regional connectivity.
Mr. Muhammad Yaqoob, Registrar, University of Sialkot enlightened the audience about Central & South Asia Connectivity: Exploring Grounds for Joint Ventures in Academic Cooperation. He stated that connectivity empowers to achieve more towards shared causes and joint ventures. He enlightened the audience that Central and South Asia have been connected. Mr. Muhammad Yaqoob gave a detailed background of great historical and spiritual scholars of Central Asia towards Pakistan in terms of research, innovation, spiritual journey and peace. He suggested that there should be high-level exchange programs between Pakistan’s and Central Asian countries to enhance academic cooperation.
Mr. Rahmat Ullah, Advisor to Vice Chancellor, Director Center for Innovation and Competitiveness Studies, University of Sialkot talked about role of universities and academia in regional connectivity. He stated that the trade balance between Central and South Asia must be incorporated with right set of policy measures. He also provided fruitful suggestions for enhanced research and regional cooperation in many diverse fields with the changing dynamics of regions.
Prof. Dr. Shabir Ahmad Khan, Director, Area Study Centre (Russia, China, & Central Asia) University of Peshawar presented vote of thanks. He expressed his gratitude to all speakers, participants, session chairs, and co-organizers for making this two-day international conference a success.
Mr. Khalid Taimur Akram (Retd), Executive Director, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad gave the closing remarks. He stated that there must be an integrated forum for regional cooperation. Therefore, through the joint efforts, all established centers, i.e., Regional Integration Center, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Eurasian Industrial Research Center, University of Sialkot, Sialkot and Area Study Center (China, Russia & Central Asia) University of Peshawar have been playing a pivotal role for regional integration.
The two-day international conference was well attended by the worthy Ambassadors of various countries to Pakistan and renowned scholars, experts, academicians, and policy makers of Pakistan. The conference has proved to a milestone development as it provided a platform to integrate Ambassadors of various countries and enhance academic learning.