Press Release – Islamabad Conclave-2023 (Day 2) Session IV- Comprehensive Security in a World in a Flux

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Islamabad Conclave-2023
 “Pakistan in a Changing World”
December 6-7, 2023

Press Release
Day 2
Session IV- Comprehensive Security in a World in a Flux

The fourth working session, titled, Comprehensive Security in a World in a Flux, was moderated by Dr. Neelum Nigar, Director CSP. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Former Minister of State for Finance and Revenue. The speakers included Mr. Haroon Sharif, Former Chairman, Board of Investment, Pakistan; Dr. Zeba Sattar, Country Head, Population Council, Pakistan; Mr. Najy Benhassine, Country Director, World Bank and Dr. Aneel Salman, Chairman Economic Security, IPRI.

Dr Neelum Nigar in her opening remarks stated that in an ever-evolving global landscape, the need for a comprehensive and adaptable security policy is paramount. Given Pakistan’s strategic location in South Asia and its intricate geopolitical environment, a multifaceted approach to security becomes imperative that aims to address the challenges through a well-coordinated and flexible framework of policies. Through a holistic strategy, Pakistan can adeptly navigate the complex dynamics of its geopolitical environment, working towards stability and security across various fronts.

In her keynote address, Dr. Pasha highlighted the prevailing global economic challenges that have persisted over the past few years, particularly exacerbated by the post-Covid era. The world has witnessed a series of stages marked by recession, coinciding with shifts in the global power dynamics, particularly between the United States and China, leading to heightened polarization. Amid this scenario, middle countries like Pakistan find themselves grappling with the repercussions of this evolving power structure, placing them at the forefront of challenges. Compounding these issues are global conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the Gaza conflict, further impacting the international political landscape and socio-political dynamics. Dr. Pasha underscored the imperative for Pakistan to address these challenges by implementing substantial institutional and policy changes in both domestic and foreign spheres, with a primary focus on economic development. Given the economic vulnerabilities at the forefront, she emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive transformations, encompassing reforms in tax structures, export and import policies, and initiatives for social development. To navigate the complex and changing economic landscape, Pakistan must proactively restructure its policies at various levels to ensure adaptability and resilience in these challenging times.

In his remarks, Mr. Haroon Sharif delved into the intricate challenges and potential opportunities within Pakistan’s economic landscape, underscoring the pressing need for substantial policy shifts, if not a complete transformation. Against the backdrop of economic uncertainty compounded by recession and ongoing political flux, he stressed the imperative for Pakistan to navigate these troubled waters through strategic investments and a dedicated focus on transitioning the economy. Mr. Sharif advocated for replacing debts with investments, harnessing innovation and technology, and actively engaging the youth on multiple fronts. Emphasizing the importance of prioritizing the export base and bridging the investment gap, he urged Pakistan to move beyond a mindset of geopolitical bargains at the national level. Mr. Sharif further recommended proposing serious economic propositions to the global community and fostering regional engagement by instigating policy, mindset, and capability changes at the practitioner level. Encouraging a shift from transactions to policies, he concluded by emphasizing the necessity of institutional transitions to address the multifaceted challenges facing Pakistan’s economic landscape.

Dr. Zeba Sattar while shedding light on the complex security and the prioritization of social development opined that there is a growing need to realize the importance of human development and human security as the foundation of the development of any nation. She emphasized that for Pakistan to achieve these goals, it is crucial to attain and maintain economic stability at a consistent rate. Concurrently, addressing challenges such as regional development disparities, diminishing sources of livelihood, rapid urbanization, and forced displacement, alongside the sustainable use of natural resources, is equally imperative. Dr. Sattar highlighted a critical issue in sustaining human development—the unchecked increase in population and the lack of concerted policy attention at the national level. This population surge, she argued, serves as the root cause of numerous interconnected challenges, including pollution, climate change, inadequate resource distribution, weakened health infrastructure, unemployment, illiteracy, and gender inequality. Recognizing and addressing these concerns becomes pivotal in steering Pakistan towards a trajectory of holistic and sustainable development.

In his talk on Pakistan’s global partnerships, Mr. Najy Benhassine pointed out the country’s confronting crises, highlighting three significant challenges: a human capital crisis, climate change concerns, and economic instability. Despite these pressing issues, he underscored that the primary worry lies in the collective will to address the foundational causes of these crises. Mr. Benhassine issued a cautionary note, emphasizing that traditional strategies and policies may prove ineffective in the current global landscape marked by multiple alterations. While acknowledging Pakistan’s capacity for delivery, he advocated for substantial policy shifts in crucial areas such as human capital, energy, and fiscal management, emphasizing the need for sustainable approaches that foster development and enhance the growth rate

Dr Aneel Salman in his remarks elucidating Pakistan’s position on sustainable development stated that Pakistan has moved from economic growth to economic development. He highlighted four main threats and challenges including ecological degradation, social polarisation, economic crisis and fundamental terrorism. The concept and practice of sustainable development is multi-faceted, it not only deals with economic policy and development but also social policies and development. He was of the view that to strengthen and achieve sustainable development goals Pakistan must move from the idea of ‘do more’ to ‘do ourselves’ by engaging civilian will and ownership and move away from donor dependency. He was of the view that to strengthen and achieve sustainable development goals Pakistan must move from the idea of ‘do more’ to ‘do ourselves’ by engaging civilian will and ownership.

The session was followed by a Q&A session. Toward the end of the session, Chairman BoG ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood presented ISSI’s memento to the esteemed panelists.