The Centre for Strategic Perspectives (CSP), Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organised a Public Talk at its Ambassador’s Platform titled “Australia’s Perspective on the Indo-Pacific: Challenges and Opportunities,” on May 26, 2021. H.E. Dr Geoffrey Shaw, Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan was the guest speaker on the occasion. The talk was moderated by Mr. Najam Rafique, Director CSP at ISSI.
In his welcome remarks, DG ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, thanked the High Commissioner for accepting to give a public talk on an important subject which is of growing importance for Pakistan in fact for all the world. Australia is an especially important country and Pakistan has had a long-standing relationship with it. Australia established diplomatic relations with Pakistan almost right after independence so this is a great treasure for Pakistan. Pakistan and Australia have linkages of commerce, trade and many other areas and a growing Pakistani diaspora about100,000 strong. The subject that High Commissioner has chosen which is Australian perspective of the Indo-Pacific is very apt, topical, current, and important. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. while addressing 26th international conference on the future of Asia in Japan via video link recently said, “the Asia-Pacific region including the Indian ocean should become a zone of peace an area of expanding cooperation and prosperity through strict adherence to the principles of UN charter and the Bandung principles of peaceful co-existence.” One notable development in the Indo-Pacific has been the formation of the Quad comprising the US, India, Japan, and Australia, operating more actively since 2017, which has been attributed in the analyses published to be in a grouping aimed at containing the growing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo Pacific region. The first phase of Malabar naval exercises held in November last year in the Bay of Bengal was also considered a first major Quad collaboration in the Indo-pacific area. Pakistan hopes that the direction is not away from the goal of making Indo-Pacific a zone of peace. Pakistan believe China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a conduit of connectivity with numerous countries giving a promise of prosperity to many. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project of the BRI and has generated economic activity and employment in Pakistan and Pakistan hopes that it will enhance bilateral and regional trade. Another important topic is Climate Change which is a serious issue for both countries, and both can have collaboration on this issue.