Report – Webinar on “Iran, Pakistan and South Asia under the Pandemic”

As part of the 16th ISSI-IPIS Dialogue, the Institute of Strategic Studies of Islamabad (ISSI) in collaboration with the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), Tehran organized a virtual webinar on Iran, Pakistan and South Asia under the Pandemic on July 14, 2020. Discussions at the webinar were based on bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran and regional developments in Afghanistan, Subcontinent and the Persian Gulf.

Inaugural Session

Dr. Kazem Sajjadpour, President, IPISgreeted the participants and welcomed this virtual collaboration between the two think tanks. He briefly mentioned that the region is riddled with multiple challenges, especially instability in Afghanistan. He hoped that the webinar would revolve around three Fs: Friendship, Frankness and Fruitful discussion. Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, DG ISSI in his welcome remarks said that this was part of the 16th annual ISSI-IPIS dialogue. He pointed out that global politics is in a state of flux particularly due to turbulent political situation in the US, the upcoming elections and countrywide protests due to the Floyd killing. Major power competition is intensifying as the US is working methodically to contain China’s rise through its Pivot to Asia policy, now known as the Indo-Pacific Strategy, which has also encouraged India to have dangerous regional ambitions. Prime Minister Modi is attempting to turn the Indian polity into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ a polity for the Hindus only. It aims to turn South Asia into a ‘hegemonic’ region where India would be the hegemon and this behaviour has also landed it into a conflict with China. On Afghanistan, he said that there finally seems to be a ray of hope but several pre-requisites still remain. On the Iran-Pakistan bilateral ties, he said that it is a strategic imperative to maintain good relations. He said that while there are a few irritants, the two sides have never had any political disputes. Unfortunately, the economic potential in their ties has not been fully exploited due to US economic sanctions against Iran which is why the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project also got delayed. Border issues arise occasionally due to cross border militancy, but there is a mutual will to deal with these issues.

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