Pak-American entrepreneur says South Asian economies cannot afford war


–Chughtai applauds PM Imran Khan’s decision to free captured Indian pilot as peace gesture

WASHINGTON: A Pakistani-American entrepreneur has warned against the outbreak of war in South Asia, saying the economic cost of conflict will consume regional countries and push the development goals decades apart.

Neither Pakistan nor India can afford another full-scale war because that will endanger the future of the largest young population and inflict further misery on the poor,” Mossadaq Chughtai, who has business concerns in both the United States (US) and Pakistan, said.

“We must remember that we have the biggest population of the poor in the region, and a conflict will not just deplete our resources but also put a big premium on the future of the region,” Chughtai said in an interview.

The Pakistani-American who has investments and partnerships in data center with tech giants, modern agriculture and real estate development, said several studies and World Bank and IMF reports have revealed that the South Asian region has bright economic prospects, with India already on road to high growth and Pakistan looking to stabilise its outlook with support of China, and Gulf allies.

“South Asia has all the potential and is in a position to become the most robust economic region of the world for many decades to come.”

On the other hand, a conflict will devastate economies, and a nuclear confrontation will have unimaginable consequences for the world.

New Delhi and Islamabad, he said, should look at the reaction of the stock markets, both domestic and international, which have lost points at the risk of a confrontation between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

Even a limited conflict will scare away investors, who want to capitalise on the tremendous natural and human resources in both countries, he said.

Chughtai appreciated the Trump Administration’s diplomatic efforts to defuse the tension between Pakistan and India.

“I also applaud PM Imran Khan’s decision to free the Indian pilot with the hope that it would turn out to be the first tangible step toward peace talks. I wish Modi will give up the path of confrontation and accept offer for negotiated settlement of disputes.”

He said this is the time that India and Pakistan make the most of their talented workforce and new foreign investments.

“Instead of fighting, the two countries must work together for business, investment and economic growth. Otherwise all recent investments will evaporate,” he concluded.