Saturday, June 22

International Conference of the ISSI-FES on “Pakistan in the Emerging Geopolitical Environment”

International Conference of the ISSI-FES on “Pakistan in the Emerging Geopolitical Environment”

International Conference of the ISSI-FES on "Pakistan in the Emerging Geopolitical Environment"

The first working session was titled “Unravelling Afghanistan’s Shifting Landscape,” and Ms. Amina Khan, Director CAMEA, served as moderator. Among the speakers at the session were Dr. Ye Hailin, Vice Dean of the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (NIIS, CASS); Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq, former Special Representative of Pakistan for Afghanistan; Dr. Bette Dam, Investigative Journalist and Author; and Dr. Foad Izadi, Associate Professor, Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran. Ambassador Hamidi served as Afghanistan’s former Minister of Education.

The session’s presenters gave a thorough overview of Afghanistan’s changing situation while highlighting the long-term effects of funding militarised education. They emphasised the detrimental effects of polarising politics, which have undermined the local economy and polarised society. The speakers also discussed the role that ethnic conflict plays in Afghanistan, emphasising how ethnic faultlines add to the complicated situation that exists there. Specifically, the presenters highlighted the difficult circumstances surrounding women’s education in Afghanistan and the nation’s isolation and humanitarian catastrophe. They were upbeat about Afghanistan’s possibilities, especially in light of its historical significance as an East-West transit route.

The presenters suggested an inclusive strategy and a proactive approach to address Afghanistan’s problems. They recommended fostering regional cooperation and discussion, managing borders and refugees, using alliances and community involvement, enhancing Afghanistan’s economic potential through trade, connectivity, and transit routes, and taking a more comprehensive view of the Afghan problem. In their last remarks, the speakers acknowledged the need of having a comprehensive grasp of both the current state of affairs and the possible outcomes of various policy actions.
Chairperson and Associate Professor of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Dr. Shabana Fayyaz, moderated the second working session, “From Dependency to Diversity: The Evolution of the Middle East.”

Speakers at the session included Ambassador Riffat Masood of Pakistan, the former ambassador of that country to Iran, Dr. Moatamer Amin of The British University in Egypt, Dr. Ali Bakir of Qatar University, Dr. Jahangir Karami of the University of Tehran, President of the Scientific Council of IRAS, Dr. Hanan AlHajeri of the Department of Political Science at the University of Kuwait, and Adam Weinstein, Deputy Director Middle East Programme, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, USA. The presenters underscored that the contemporary geopolitical terrain of the Middle East is characterised by an array of dynamic transformations and dynamic coalitions.

Concerns about security arrangements are becoming more prevalent in the midst of regional initiatives to diversify the economy, especially in light of the US strategic realignment to the Asia-Pacific area. This change calls for a reevaluation of the power structures in the area as China’s growing influence contends with Western influence that has been established over time.
The necessity for a complete reevaluation of regional dynamics is further highlighted by recent events, such as the Gaza conflict, which illustrate the public’s declining faith in the United States and its Western allies. Amidst this intricate terrain, there is a growing acknowledgement of the significance of giving precedence to economic advancement over pressing security issues. The region’s fundamental geopolitical issues are thought to be beyond the scope of short-term fixes, calling for a more complex and long-term strategy.

Pakistan’s position becomes more and more important for regional stability in the face of these geopolitical upheavals, especially because of its potential contributions to economic integration. Pakistan’s longstanding commitment to core foreign policy ideals puts it in a good position to interact positively with Middle Eastern nations. Pakistan may actively contribute to regional peace and development by placing a high priority on diplomacy and collaboration. Dr. Simbal Khan, a UNDP Pakistan Conflict Prevention and Stabilisation Expert, moderated the third working session, which was entitled “Rising Non-Conventional Security Threats in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the Middle East.”

Participants in the session included Dr. Hu Shisheng, Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Institute for South Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR); Dr. Flavius CABA-MARIA, President and Director of the Political Department, Middle East Political and Economic Institute (MEPEI), Romania; Dr. Islomkhon Gafarov, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Afghanistan and South Asian Studies, Institute for Advanced International Studies; and Ambassador Hamid Bayat, Senior Researcher Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), Iran; Dr. Alexander Kornilov, Prof. Dr. Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod; Dr. Mona Kanwal Sheikh, Head of the Global Security and Worldviews Unit, Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS);

Speakers in the event covered a range of security issues, highlighting the transition after 9/11 from state-based to non-state conflicts and the emergence of non-traditional dangers like cyberattacks in addition to classic ones. They also discussed the dangers non-state actors offer to international security in places like Syria and emphasised how urgent it is to face new challenges to stability throughout the world. They also underlined the necessity of swift action against terrorist organisations and regional collaboration to reduce dangers like water disputes and the effects of climate change. Lastly, speakers stressed the precarious socioeconomic situations in impacted areas, cautioned against the development of regional conflicts, and offered solutions to deal with financial difficulties.

The Chairman of the ISSI Board of Governors, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, gave the closing remarks. He thanked Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) for bringing to Pakistan’s attention significant issues that need to be addressed in light of regional and global power dynamics. He emphasised that Pakistan needs to behave responsibly and protect its interests as a nation. Pakistan’s government needs to handle its ties with countries like Iran, Afghanistan, India, China, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with pragmatism because they are vital nations for Pakistan. In sharing his opinions, Mr. Hamayoun Khan, Programme Advisor, FES Pakistan, said that this conference covered a wide range of topics related to Pakistan’s potential and challenges in the rapidly changing geopolitical environment.

He commended the leadership of ISSI for their productive partnership with FES.

Sub-Editor: Arslan