May 18, 2016
The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted an In-House discussion today with a 3-member delegation from the Golden Ring Economic Forum (GREF). The delegation was led by Mr. Hasnain Reza Mirza, President, GREF. Other members of the delegation included Lt. Gen. (Retd) Sikandar Afzal, Sr. Vice President and Dr. Shahid Hasan, Member BoG and Head Russian Chair at GREF.
Ambassador Khalid Mehmood, Chairman of the Board of Governors, ISSI, welcomed the delegation and introduced the ISSI.
Mr. Hasnain introducing GREF said that it is a newly established strategic policy-making think tank focussing on long-term economic and strategic issues that are of importance to Pakistan. GREF, he said comprises former military and civilian officials, businessmen and academics. The goal of the GREF will be to advice the Government on very specific issues like what exports need to be identified, the infrastructure required and the training and education of manpower under th cooperation with China on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said that GREF is venturing to initiate a new economic bloc comprising Iran, Russia, China, and Pakistan, and later on include Turkey as well.
He identified several sectors that GREF will be focussing on in its future endeavours including energy, water, communications, banking and finance, and education. He said that there are many MoUs and agreements which have been signed between the governments of these countries, but they are nowhere near the implementation stage. The government, he said, needs to work on making best use of these agreements, and which must include the views of all stakeholders.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood in his concluding remarks said that there was a need to control the negative propaganda against the CPEC projects and asked GREF to devise strategies to counter them. He proposed that the ISSI and GREF have a formal MoU in order to cooperate in future activities.