Press Release – Islamabad Conclave: Working Session IV “Development Through Connectivity”

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Press Release
Islamabad Conclave: Working Session IV “Development Through Connectivity”
December 10, 2021

The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organised Islamabad Conclave-2021 on the theme “A Peaceful and Prosperous South Asia,” on December 9-10, 2021. The Islamabad Conclave is the annual mega event of the Institute which was organised by its five Centres of Excellence. The Inaugural Session was graced by ISSI Patron-in-Chief, Honourable Mr. Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Patron ISSI, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The Keynote Address was delivered by Honourable Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, shared the work and vision of the ISSI and Islamabad Conclave 2021 with the honourable guests and participants.

The China-Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at the Institute hosted the Working Session-IV on “Development through Connectivity” on December 10, 2021. In his introductory remarks, Dir. CPSC Dr. Talat Shabir said that the contemporary world is undergoing a huge transformation and geo-economics is the dominant theme of international politics. He pointed out the four vital elements of development through connectivity and emphasized upon Pakistan’s importance as a strategic gateway to the regional development and prosperity.  

Keynote speaker of the session, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to China, Amb. Khalid Masood highlighted the bottlenecks of infrastructural development in the developing regions such as Asia and he welcomed China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in this context. He said that, through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan can transform into a regional trade and energy hub, and a key player in peace and stability of South Asia and the surrounding regions. While alluding to western apprehensions of Chinese economic corridors, he argued that the CPEC is not directed against any 3rd country, in fact it is for the improvement of the entire region.

Professor and Associate Dean of School of International Studies at Renmin University, Professor Jin Canrong spoke on the sub-theme, “Commerce and Industry: Pivot to Geo-economics” and elaborated upon how China managed to own the largest manufacturing industry in the world and its GDP is 30% of the total world. He was of the view that the current age is the age of geo-economics and, by investing into commerce and industry, the nations can achieve phenomenal outcomes.

Professor and Deputy Director of the Center for South Asian Studies, Fudan University, Prof.. Lin Minwang talked about “Transport and Energy Infrastructure: A Catalyst for Connectivity.” He stated that China’s exceptional economic success revolves around increasing infrastructural connectivity. BRI in this regard, he said, is the timely venture for building shared future of development and progress with its neighbouring countries and the regions.

Shedding light on “South-Central Asia Connectivity through Pakistan”, Vice Rector for International Cooperation at the Eurasian National University, Kazakhstan Prof. Akbota Zholdasbekova appreciated the host of initiatives, particularly BRI, that are being taken in South and Central Asia and on the Eurasian landmass to strengthen connectivity and commercial cooperation. She emphasised that Pakistan can enhance the regional connectivity linkages and Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan railway project, in particular, raises hopes to enhance economic activities and strengthen regional connectivity.

Director of the Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Mr. Sanjar Valiev, speaking on “Ports and Maritime Connectivity: Synergising Development & Security”, highlighted the prospects of a possible conjugation of the “Trans-Afghan Corridor” with CPEC. that it is important to pay attention to formation of transport corridors connecting with the infrastructure of Pakistani seaports. This strategic direction of cooperation is the basis for long-term economic growth. Pakistan as a gateway to CARs should explore the possibilities of untapped cluster trade routes.

The session was followed by an interactive Q&A session.