The Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) hosted a two day workshop for the ‘Women Wing’ of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf on 22nd-23rd December, 2014 at its premises. The workshop was titled “Pakistan’s Foreign and Security Policy.”
In the preliminary session titled “the Changing Global Strategic Environment”, Director General Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad, Dr. Shireen M Mazari provided a brief overview of the world order in the post Cold War era. She said that since the collapse of the Soviet Union the world has structurally been in a state of flux. Now, the world has two competing global orders i.e. uni-polarity (single hegemon) and the other a “coalition of the willing.” Arguably the whole notion of security has been redefined whereby the UN system has been undermined. After the Cold War, people started to assume that economics would dominate, but if we look at the collapse of the Soviet Union, militarisation has now become even more predominant than before. Economic issues are becoming militarised in many ways and they are being used for politico-military purposes.
She also highlighted that the contemporary international system is marked with the phenomenon of globalization, where the states are not the only actors in shaping the global environment. The international regimes coupled with multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations play a crucial role in shaping policy thus contributing to peace and stability processes. Within the present context of asymmetric conflicts not only have the group of non-state actors expanded but also such actors have become central players in the realm of peace and stability.
South Asia is in a greater mess largely due to terrorism that has become center stage because conflicts have become primarily asymmetric. If one looks at the causes of terrorism in Pakistan, there are two main causes: inability of the state to deliver to the people and the US war in Afghanistan. More threatening for Pakistan has been the introduction of and rise in suicide bombings. To cope up with the manace of terrorism, she argued, an all-encompassing strategy is required to deal with the multi-level terrorist threat. There is a need to focus on the root causes of terrorism, not simply the symptoms. In this, political dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts become essential tools with which to fight terrorism. There is a need to study the psyche of the Pakistani suicide bomber because from preliminary non-scientific observation it would seem they can be weaned away from this route by their areas seeing quick economic revival. At the economic level, globalisation has to proceed in a manner in which groups and states feel less marginalised and where more equitable norms apply – so as to give all states a ‘level playing field’.
While discussing global arms control and disarmament regimes, Dr. Mazari highlighted the discriminatory approach of the global non-proliferation regime. She mentioned how the Indo-US nuclear deal and the NSG waiver for India had undermined the global non-proliferation regime. She said that the contemporary non-proliferation debate was focused exclusively on the nuclear programmes of certain countries namely Iran and Pakistan. In order to make progress on the issue there was a need to talk about the proliferation by Western countries especially those supporting the Israeli nuclear programme. In the case of India and Pakistan Dr. Mazari suggested that the only way forward for both the nuclear capable states was the security route to cooperation which would be based on mutual trust and would enhance cooperation between both the nations. “After all, both Pakistan and India are conventional energy deficient states and both are overt nuclear powers so there is no reason not to cooperate in the field of civil nuclear energy with both countries sharing joint control of the relevant technology.”
Dr. Mazari argued that there is a myth created that Pakistan is militarily dependent on the US, however in reality Pakistan’s strategic weapons are indigenously developed. While discussing the prevailing international system, she also referred to Ralph Peter’s article titled: “Blood Borders” that was published after 9/11 in US Armed Forces Journal where he mentioned that the powerful Muslim states would be weakened and ultimately would be broken up which is exactly what is happening in the Middle East. In conclusion she highlighted that there is a window of opportunity for Pakistan to assert itself as it is located in a very significant geographic position.
In the second session titled: “India-Pakistan relations and South Asian Security”, Senior Anchorperson Saach TV, Syed Talat Hussain argued that the nature of conflict between India and Pakistan has dramatically changed. After 1971 the strategic imbalance between Pakistan and India increased manifold. Pakistan started its quest for nuclear weapon so that the ultimate weapon will recalibrate the powers of equation. He said that there was an era of proxy wars in indirect conflict that went on because both the countries cannot fight a direct war because of nuclear weapons. Mr. Hussain also highlighted the era of 1990s when the economic conditions of India were not any better than Pakistan’s economic conditions. He explained that Indian former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the architect who brought various reforms to revive India’s economy. He explained that throughout 90s while we were struggling with political instabilities, there was a consensus in India that has emerged that through economic dominance India has to reinforce its strategic weight and take a path of economic well being. Regarding India-Pakistan relations he stressed that in order to engage India effectively, Pakistan needs to consider its resources and demographic features. Before 911 Pakistan’s military tilt was largely focused on the Eastern border but after India’s growing influence in Afghanistan, the tilt has also shifted to the Western border. Mr. Hussain maintained that South Asia has never been a coherent geopolitical region; it is a region that has more than 200 million people living in slums and at least half a billion people lack access to electricity. With high population growth and industrial development, per capita water consumption and agricultural land is declining sharply. He concluded by saying that conflict would dominate in the short to medium term while cooperation and co-existence is likely to prevail in the longer term. Furthermore, management of Indo-Pak relations is the key to management of South Asian security.
In the first session, Mr. Oves Anwar, Senior Associate at the Research Society of International Law gave a presentation on “An Introduction to International Law”. He discussed the evolution of international law and the need for a certain legal mechanism to maintain fair dealings between states. The prevailing discourse on international law is still divided over the existence and reality of international law as compared to the domestic laws of the states. Mr. Anwar also explained the different sources from which the international law is derived. He illustrated how states and individuals become objects of international law using real life examples to support his arguments. He also explained different international organizations and how they work in deriving and practicing different forms of international law. At the end, the participants were engaged in a debate over the existence and effectiveness of international law in the real world. It was concluded that unlike the states, there is no central governing body in the international system which can ensure the obedience of the states to international law, but still the international organisations remain relevant in regulating the law and bringing peace to the system.
In the second session titled: “Global Economic Environment & Pakistan’s Economy”, Mr. Asad Umer (MNA PTI) explained the global economic environment in the post WW2 era. While mentioning the factors that drive the contemporary competitive global economic order, he explained the evolution and role of international economic and trade regimes and the technological advancement which enhanced the trade.
While examining the position of Pakistan in current world economic order, he explained that the problem with the Pakistani nation is that they rebel against the international order. Countries that have adjusted themselves with the changing patterns of the economic environment have been beneficiaries of this new economic order. While majority in Pakistan criticize the WTO and GATT, the same trading regimes have transformed hundreds of millions of East Asians out of poverty into middle class. He said that for improvement of quality of life the single biggest determinant is trade. While talking about globalization he explained that this expansion and explosion of trade and services augmented the return on skills and knowledge immensely, but the lower markets have nothing to offer in this globalized world. Vast majority in Pakistan is not educated and they lack the skills that the global market demands today. They are living in poverty. He said that the absolute level of poverty is already there, but the gap between rich and poor is also increasing and is creating an absolute social volcano. He also talked about the intra-regional trade which has played a critical role in the growth of the countries. In the entire developing world the highest degree of intra-regional trade is in East-Asia. China is at the heart of it but the entire ring around it trades very heavily with each other. The lowest intra-regional trade in the world is in South Asia where regional trade is less than one percent of its total output. Mr. Asad Umar emphasized that Pakistan has to shift its foreign policy and be able to create a condition where Pakistan can have normal trading relations to its East, North and the West. He said that Pakistan is completely isolated; we don’t trade with India which is a market of 1.1 billion because of fragile relations. The entire Central Asian region is not accessible to us because of the poor security conditions in Afghanistan. He concluded by saying that what Pakistan lacks today is the educated and skilled labor force which is essential for a state in order to compete and survive in this globalized world. Pakistan has fertile lands and abundant untapped natural resources which, if exploited skillfully, could bring a permanent end to Pakistan’s energy problems. Education is the key to success and development for every nation.
In the final session titled: “Pakistan’s Nuclear policy”, Mr. Khalid Banuri, DG ACDA Strategic Plans Division, presented the contours of nuclear politics in South Asia and gave an analysis of the uses of nuclear technology both for weapons and peaceful uses. He explained the importance and purpose of the nuclear weapons in the contemporary international strategic environment. He further elaborated the Non- Proliferation efforts by international non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Non- proliferation treaty is an example of the formal mechanisms of the Nuclear non- proliferation regime which is inherently discriminatory in nature. Some informal mechanisms are also significant like the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) which has also become a ground for nuclear politics in South Asia. Mr. Banuri explained the salient features of different technology control regimes including the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group (AG) and Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). These regimes consist of advanced technology holders with selective membership.
Talking about the geo-strategic landscape of South Asia Mr. Khalid Banuri said having three nuclear powers in close proximity (India + Pakistan + China) makes the geo-strategic landscape much more complex and prone to conflicts, competition and also cooperation. The geo-strategic interests of Pakistan are to maximize potential to benefit from available resources and to safeguard territorial integrity and sovereignty by increasing national power. India aspires for global power status and to acquire regional dominance by augmenting national power through forging alliances, e.g., with the US. Regarding nuclear non-proliferation, Mr. Khalid Banuri highlighted that Pakistan has been taking different non-proliferation initiatives since 1974 and proposed CBSMs to India as well but they were always turned down by India. At the end Mr. Khalid Banuri explained the peaceful uses of nuclear technology and emphasized its benefits in agriculture and biotechnology. He said that Pakistani nuclear facilities are well protected in terms of both safety and security.