Peace in the region


The South Asian region and its development is surely linked with the effort and thinking of the people of these countries to understand the numerous factors that have shaped economic activity here. All attempts to bring closer to grasp the rudiments of the peace process are likely to help in greater economic development through better utilisation of rich resources possessed by this region. One such effort, last week, was bravely taken further at LUMS by holding YGL Indo-Pakistan Cooperation Initiative.
Economic activity in Asia is shaping the world economy in the 21st century. There are reports of greater innovations and technological achievements continuously coming from the continent. In the year 1800, the population in Asia was half of that of the world but it also had 50 per cent share in world GDP. The industrial revolution and colonialism considerably reduced its share in the world economy. The region, now, must work towards greater peace so as to put economic development on fast-track.
All countries of this part of Asia need to understand the challenges that face their economic development. Every effort to bring peace and harmony amongst the people of this region must foster mutual respect and the developmental requirements of their particular country vis-à-vis the economic perspective of the area as a whole. The sooner, the better, we assiduously start stepping towards this realisation of resolving conflicts that are hampering the peace-process. A very ominous sign was the participation of a representative of the World Economic Forum from Geneva. But the Forum must participate in far more meaningful ways and with larger representation in the economic activity of the South Asian region.
The sub-continent peace effort was severely affected with the Soviet invasion of a neighbourly country in 1979. Afghanistan is land-locked and shares borders with many countries. It has strong ethnic links of large segments of its population with these countries but in the historical perspective it has had its unique character, distinct from that of the Middle East, the sub-continent or central Asia. In the post-1945 era, it succeeded in developing the country as a tourist-destination. There were people from all directions and from all continents visiting the country for good shopping bargains and savouring the fruits and other food delicacies it was well-known for. The applecart was so upset by the events followed by the invasion that restoration of its economy towards normalcy has become a gargantuan task.
Speaking of Kabul, one is fairly reminded of Zaheer-ud-din Babar, who set up his throne at Delhi in 1526 but prior to that he had established his kingdom in Kabul. In his autobiography, Tuzhke-Babry, he is greatly reminiscent of the orchards and fruits of Kabul. But, later, the Moghuls were absorbed into the affairs of the sub-continent where they produced their distinct style of architecture and literary culture that survives to this day. However, we and all international efforts must work patiently to bring this neighbourly country of Pakistan to its relatively peaceful economic status that it once enjoyed. All countries of the South Asian region share a common history narrative, involving a period of centuries if not more. For a thousand years it was home to a population that shared different religious beliefs but it did not hinder economic impulses generated in different eras. Now that economic development is just beginning to uplift the well-being of its people, concerns for cooperation and peace towards continuous development are getting more serious. This dictum applies to all sizes of economies in the sub-continent as lessons learnt from the Greek experience endangering the entire Euro zone have shown.
The emergence of a middle-class, especially in the urban areas, and consumer spending is helping shape up the economies of these countries. The perspective of all short-term goals must and can in a significant way show an inherent intent to carry forward this consciousness of knowing and fixing milestones of small and big successes to help continuous uplifting of the economic development in these dynamic and fast-changing scenarios of the global economy.

The writer has served as consultant to the United Nations and other developing economies on issues of trade and development


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