Webinar on “Evolving Regional Situation and Pakistan-China Cooperation” 1st Pakistan-China Think Tank Forum
September 8, 2021
China-Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organized 1st Pakistan-China Think Tank Forum on “Evolving Regional Situation and Pakistan-China Cooperation” on September 8, 2021. The event was a series of joint collaboration between CSP-ISSI and China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR). The participants included: DG ISSI, Amb. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry; President CICIR Dr. Yuan Peng; Dir. CPSC, Dr. Talat Shabir; Director of Institute of South & Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies, CICIR, Dr. Hu Shisheng; Director General China, MOFA, Mr. Faraz Zaidi; Director General Asia at MFA, Mr. Liu Jinsong; Former DG-ISSRA, Maj Gen (R) Dr. Samreez Salik; Vice President China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Dr. Rong Ying; Prof.Li Li, Tsinghua University; Dir. Centre for Middle East and Africa (CAMEA)-ISSI, Amina Khan; Dr. Wang Shida CICIR; Dr. Sumeera Imran, National Defense University (NDU); Dr. Mukesh Kumar Khatwani, Jamshoroo University; and Dr. WangXu, Peking University.
Dr. Talat Shabbir and Dr. Hu Shisheng set the agenda of the Think tank Forum with their opening remarks. Dr. Talat said that the emergence of new political dynamics in Afghanistan in the wake of Taliban’s take over has prompted Pakistan and China to push for realisation of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan. Mr. Hu Shisheng described how the evolving situation in the region, particularly in the context of Afghanistan, is an important juncture for both Pakistan and China. He also explained how it is critical to develop a common understanding of current and future dynamics of Afghanistan.
Earlier, in his introductory and welcome remarks, Amb. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry cautioned that the irresponsible and hasty withdrawal of the US has not only contributed to the current chaos in Kabul but it is also going to have long-term impact on the peace and stability in the region. He was of the view that the peace in Afghanistan hinges upon the assurances that the Taliban gave. He reiterated that Pakistan is ready to extend the support that is needed to push the Afghan peace forward but the Afghans must realize that they are the ones who will suffer the most if peace is not kept. He suggested that the regional countries, particularly Islamabad and Beijing, should continue to engage in a dialogue vis-a-vis the Afghan conundrum and its regional dimension.
Mr. Faraz Zaidi said that our region is passing through a critical while a drastic transformation is being taking place in the region. Pakistan has recalibrated its vision from geopolitics to geo-economics and, through connectivity drive and economic diplomacy, the region has enormous potential to prosper. He referred to projects of CPEC and explained how it helped Pakistan in addressing its energy and infrastructure problems. Mr. Liu Jinsong began by saying that Pak-China relations have always stood the test of times and are entrenched deep in the hearts of the two nations. He stated that US defeat in Afghanistan teaches us many great lessons i.e., hegemony, intervention by force, and selfish interests are bound to fail. Pakistan and China should maintain close communication regarding evolving situation in Afghanistan.
In the first working session, Dr. Samriz Salik opined that the current security situation in Kabul is a litmus test for the regional problems and the regional countries must join hands to avert any spill-over effect. Dr. Rong Ying suggested for a proactive role of China and Pakistan in the region because, in his view, the major power competition is going to intensify in the future. Prof. Li Li said that the role of China has increased in the current situation and, with this, the need for Pak-China collaboration has also increased.
In the second working session, Dr. Wang Shida suggested to navigate the chartered waters of the Afghan peace process by employing economic and diplomatic means and giving humanitarian assistance. Ms. Amina Khan said that, though the Taliban are actively engaging with all the national stakeholders, their government is far from inclusive. She highlighted that the success of the group depends upon how they run the government and run the different institutions particularly military and police. Dr. Sameera elucidated that a Chinese Marshal Plan in Afghanistan can serve as a game changer for the region.
In the third session, Dr. Mukesh Kumar said that TTP, Daesh or may be sponsored by India or Indian groups and the terrorist groups in Afghanistan can pose a big challenge for Pakistan. Dr. Wang Xu predicted that, with the evolving situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and China would come even closer to forming a community of shared future in the region.
The webinar was concluded with remarks by Dr. Talat and Dr. Hu Sheshang recommending for more events focusing on regional roadmap for the future.