LAHORE - Peace in Pakistan is essential not only for peace in Afghanistan, but also for economic development of South Asia , said Mr. Omer Farooq Korkmaz, Chief Adviser to PM of Turkey, for Middle-Eastern Affairs.

He was addressing a one-day international conference titled ‘Connectivity: Road to Peace’ held in Istanbul, Turkey, yesterday, under the auspices of Lahore Center for Peace Research (LCPR), in collaboration with its Turkish counterpart, South Strategic Research Center (GASAM). Conference also marked the 10th year of Independence of Kosovo.

Valdrin Lluka, Minister of Economic Development of Kosovo, stated that Kosovo is a small country but has powerful friends such as Turkey and Pakistan, which were amongst the first few countries to recognize Kosovo. The Conference was co-chaired by Pakistan’s Former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad Khan, Chairman LCPR and Cemal Demir, Chairman GASAM. Other co-sponsors included the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM), Pakistan Alumni & Members Association (PAMDER), and Pak-Turk Friendship Foundation. This was the first-ever PakTurkish joint-venture devoted to the cause of peace in today’s turbulent global environment marked by endemic conflict and economic disparities.

The conference deliberations were focused on how regional, inter-regional, and cross-border linkages can be fostered to support the promotion of peace, trade and economic integration. Dr. Salman Shah, Pakistan’s Former Finance Minister, emphasized that Pakistan and Turkey are pivots of trade, in their respective regions. The consensus view at the conference was that such linkages could be conduits for peace and harmony, regionally as well as globally. Further, to find peace with ourselves, we need to find peace with air, nature and land, stated Dr. Albena Refki Reshitaj, Minister for Environment and Spatial, Kosovo.

The envoys in Ankara, Ambassador Avni Spahiu of Kosovo, and Ambassador Syrus Sajjad Qazi of Pakistan, highlighted that Pakistan’s geo-strategic location and geo-political potential entail a prominent role in fast-changing global environment, because it is located at intersection of four major regions driving global economic growth – South Asia, China, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Chairman LCPR, Ambassador Shamshad Ahmad Khan summed up the findings of the final panel discussion by stressing that an enabling environment of peace and harmony was necessary for promoting regional and inter-regional economic cooperation.

 In this connection, he highlighted the role of Pakistan as a pivotal link in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), that of Turkey as a peace hub for the neighboring region entangled in disorder, and that of Kosovo as the fulcrum for stability in Balkans and Central Europe.

There was consensus at the conference that no economic development strategies at the national or regional levels would work as long as the hunger of the gods of war remains there and until the underlying causes of conflicts are effectively addressed. This is true of South Asia, Northeast East Asia, Central Asia or West Asia as it is for Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Middle East.

          Participants agreed that peace and development go hand in hand, and nothing can pave the path for peace and security more than economic development through regional cooperation. In this connection, the conference also recognised the importance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a major factor of peace and prosperity across Eurasian regions.

          It is expected to expand the linkages of peace and economy by providing multidimensional “connectivity side by side in five different areas: coordination of policies, connection of infrastructures and facilities, trade liberalization, free flow of capital, and people-to-people contacts.”

          It was noted that this project had no geographical boundaries and was open to all countries with no exclusivity or selectivity. Its sole objective was to build peaceful, connected and prosperous societies in the vast region which is home to one-fourth of humanity. Every country in Asia must contribute to creating at the national and regional levels an enabling environment which is conducive to sustained economic growth and development.

          It was also noted that on its part, Pakistan would welcome all countries in the region, including India, as its partners in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. India, as a larger country in the region, must inspire confidence among its neighbours by building mutual trust and harmony and resolving disputes with its neighbours.

          The real challenge of statesmanship in our region is to transcend differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, and leave a legacy of peace for future generations. It is time this region, so rich in history, culture, and material and human resources rediscovered its lost strength and regional identity to build dividends of peace and prosperity rooted in common interests.

          Asia must capitalize on its own resources and reclaim its role as a balancing factor in the unipolar world by carving out a new niche for itself in the global geo-political matrix. Asian states must rise above sub-regional mode and concentrate on a common Asian cause by concerting their policies on issues of global relevance.

          It is also time for the voices of reason and responsibility — in all parts of the world — to caution against militarism and demand strict adherence by all states, large and small, to the UN Charter’s central principle: the prohibition of the use or threat of use of force in international relations.

Sajid zia5/5/2018