The Developing-8 Commissioners, whose 33rd session concluded after two days in Islamabad, with an agreement to fast-track the implementation of Trade agreements, which foresee the increase of intra-D-8 trade from its current $150 billion a year to $500 billion a year by 2018. This was said by D-8 Secretary-General Hasan Mousawi to PM’s Foreign Affairs and National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz on Monday when they met after Mr Aziz had addressed the session. The D-8 comprises Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Iran, Nigeria and Turkey, which are also the eight most populous Muslim countries, and is an economic cooperation organisation. Though formed in 1997 at the initiative of then Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, it was not until the Islamabad Summit, only last year, that a Charter was signed. The meeting of the Commission is thus the first after it, and should have examined the progress in implementing the Preferential Trade Agreement made at the 2006 Bali Summit.

Though the D-8 is supposed to reflect its members’ weight on world forums, it also allows members to maintain existing arrangements and even make new ones. This may well be the biggest barrier in implementing the agreement. To a greater or lesser extent, all members are involved in some form of regional cooperation, which would be given greater priority than this grouping, which comprises 60 percent of the world’s Muslims (all are OIC members), and close to 13 percent of the total world population. The country most committed elsewhere would be Turkey, which might find its membership hard to continue if it was ever admitted to the European Union. Similarly, Malaysia and Indonesia are members of ASEAN, just as Pakistan and Bangladesh are SAARC members.

The potential of the D-8 should be used positively as well as imaginatively. His remarks to the session about Pakistan hosting the first D-8 Energy Forum should not be seen solely in the context of Pakistan’s energy crisis, but in that of all members facing some Variation of the crisis, including Iran and Nigeria, which are themselves hydrocarbon producers, the former indeed being seen by Pakistan as a supplier of the gas that will help it overcome the crisis. Similarly, there are a number of other areas where the members may currently face problems, or will do so in future, and which will have their solution eased if joint efforts are made. Pakistan is already playing a significant role in the organisation, and should be ready to do in future as well, because it will find this organisation helpful in meeting its national aspirations.