ISSI hosted ACD Secretary General for Roundtable on Connectivity
The China-Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organized a Roundtable on “Development through Connectivity: Asian Perspective,”. The Keynote Speaker for the event was H.E. Dr. Pornchai Danvivathana, Secretary General, Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD). The event was attended by diplomats, dignitaries, scholars, students, journalists, and people from different walks of life.
In his introductory remarks, Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director CPSC, introduced the Asia Cooperation Dialogue to the participants. He said that Asia Cooperation Dialogue is an intergovernmental organization established in June 2002 in Thailand. He added that ACD is important as it provides a forum to Asian countries to exchange views on areas of mutual interest including peace and development. The organization covers West Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and North-East Asia, he added.
In his remarks DG ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood extended a warm welcome to the Secretary General on his first visit to Pakistan and to ISSI for this interactive session. He highlighted the key aspects of ACD’s vision as an inclusive, continent-wide cooperative framework and its emphasis on mutual peace and economic growth. He further highlighted ACD’s evolution and working mechanisms (dialogue & projects) as well as Pakistan’s role in promoting the ACD process as a founding member. He noted that Pakistan had become a ‘Prime Mover’ on Connectivity and ‘Co-Prime Mover’ on Culture and Tourism. Ambassador Sohail Mahmood underlined that it was important to keep focus on ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ connectivity and promote greater people-to-people exchanges. He stressed that the ACD’s goal of building an ‘Asian Community’ was laudable and it must be advanced in an environment conducive for conflict resolution and greater amity and cooperation in the Continent.
In his remarks, Mr. Amer Ahmad Atozai, Director General (East Asia and Pacific), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, appreciated ISSI’s initiative to invite Secretary General Dr. Pornchai Danvivathana and thanked for hosting the event. Mr. Atozai said that the Asian countries continue to suffer from poverty, climate change, food insecurity, and various other challenges. He said that the solution to such unprecedented problems lay, inter alia, in regional connectivity. Mr. Atozai argued that Pakistan could serve as a major hub to achieving such connectivity. Pakistan has a consumer economy of more than 220 million people and to facilitate connectivity, it has liberalised its visa policy, he added.
In his Keynote Address on the subject, Secretary General Dr. Pornchai Danvivathana, thanked the ISSI for hosting him. Dr. Pornchai said that the entire concept of development is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and declared the latter as the blueprint for peace and prosperity. He added that the need of the hour was to act upon the UN SDGs to achieve sustainable development and to save the environment. He further said that countries needed to strike a balance between development and protecting the environment. He noted that ACD has a total of 35 members and it is promoting effective management of resources including human resources. Dr. Pornchai argued that connectivity was the key to trade and development, and depending on the region, it involved both physical and non-physical components. He also underscored the importance of addressing the ‘development gap’ and the ‘digital divide.’ He stressed that connectivity alleviates economic and social disparities. Dr. Pornchai highlighted that connectivity has great potential to bring peace and prosperity in Asia. He concluded by saying that “together we share, and together we care.”
In his concluding remarks Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman Board of Governors ISSI, appreciated the efforts being made by ACD and its Secretary General and underlined that the future of Asia lies in development through connectivity.
The event was moderated by Dr. Talat Shabbir and was followed by an engaging Q&A session.