Taking neighbourly relations to another level
Peace and security are essential ingredients as well as catalysts of economic progress of a country, region and the world at large. The rapid globalisation, ever growing interdependence of the states and the emerging challenges have necessitated the pursuance of these objectives through collective and productive interaction between the states to surmount these challenges. In the post-Cold War era, there has been a growing trend to create regional organisations and building regional linkages to deal with these challenges and to help the countries of the region or the members of the organisation in dealing with their respective problems under the umbrella provided by the regional entities. The thinking behind this philosophy is that the regional arrangements are more focused on specific problems of the region and are in a better position to take care of the regional issues and protecting the interests of the region in any global arrangement designed to ensure peace and security and economic progress on the world level.
The Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is an organisation which aims at fostering cooperation among Asian countries to deal with issues that affect the member countries, the region and also have global implications. President Mamoon Hussain while addressing the fourth Summit of CICA held in Shanghai, China rightly remarked that the member countries needed a constructive engagement and cooperative spirit to cope with the issues confronting Asia which he identified as political and economic challenges in the form of long outstanding political and territorial disputes, emerging security threats including terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and organised crime, poverty and negative consequences of climate change.
The issues identified by him are of such a nature that no country can resolve them on its own. The complexity and enormity surrounding these challenges undoubtedly needs collective action by all the concerned countries. It is widely believed that 21st century belongs to Asia as an economic powerhouse and its capacity to influence and manage the global events and arrangements that would be evolved to establish a new world order. The paradigm shift in the conduct of foreign policy of Pakistan, envisioned and choreographed by the present government under the stewardship of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that lays greater focus on recalibrating relations with its neighbours and building regional linkages to resolve disputes and unleashing an era of shared economic prosperity, fits well into the aims and objectives of CICA.
President Mamoon Hussain gave an exhaustive discourse on the overall objectives of Pakistan’s foreign policy, the role it was playing in promoting peace in the region, especially promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and tackling terrorism. The endorsement and appreciation of these efforts as well as the economic policies being pursued by the government came from none other than the UN Secretary, General Ban Ki-Moon, who in a meeting with the president on the sidelines of the Summit, expressed satisfaction over the efforts of Pakistan in tackling extremism, stabilising economy of the country, adopting growth oriented policies to promote socio-economic development in the country, promoting regional peace especially in the neighbouring Afghanistan as well as playing host to Afghan refugees. Mr Ban Ki-Moon assured the president that UN would continue to assist the government and the people of Pakistan in their efforts for socio-economic development and realising the goal of long-lasting peace, stability and development in the region.
President of China Xi Jinping in his meeting with President Mamoon also expressed support for the counter-terrorism strategy evolved by Pakistan as dictated by its national environment and emphasised the need for bilateral security cooperation between the two friendly countries to safeguard peace and stability within their territories and in the region. Both leaders, reportedly, held wide-ranging talks on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest, with special emphasis on exponential expansion and up-gradation of economic ties between the two countries and the benefits that would accrue to both of them and the region through the projects under China-Pakistan economic corridor. Both the presidents also witnessed the signing of the framework agreement between China and Pakistan on Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project.
It was Mamoon’s second visit to China within three months that came on the heels of prime minister’s visit to China in April, which reflects the ever growing strength of relations between the two nations that were unique in the sense they were not like the traditional diplomatic ties between two states but a genuine and heart-felt bond between the people of the two countries; the element which has helped the relations between the two countries to withstand vicissitudes of time and attaining dizzying heights. This ingredient of the ties between the two countries was amply testified by the fact that Fudu University of China has compiled an Urdu-China dictionary and invited President Mammon in its inaugural ceremony. The effort beyond an iota of doubt indicates the love that the people of China have for the people of Pakistan and the interest in learning each other’s language. It is said that language is a mirror of a society, its values and aspirations. One finds it hard to take an issue with the contention of President Mamoon that this dictionary would work as a bridge between the two languages from the academic point of view as well as strengthen social and political ties between the two people. The compilation of the dictionary by the Chinese University is indeed a remarkable effort that in the long run would further promote people to people contacts adding to the affinity, bonhomie and warmth at the level of the people and imparting eternity to their relations.
The president also had the opportunity to meet the Sri Lankan president and both the leaders discussed the whole range of bilateral cooperation between the two countries emphasising the need for greater interaction between the two countries to strengthen economic ties, especially early conclusion of the Comprehensive Partnership Agreement. President’s visit to China was a productive sojourn from many aspects and adequately reflected a pro-active approach of the government in managing international relations, rightly so.