LAHORE: Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in 2006 at the Boao Forum for Asia in China had said that future of this region is linked with the east. He was convinced there will be a shift from the west to the east by all the developing countries for their economic stability. Today’s ground realities have proven his ‘Look to the east policy’ was a visionary approach. Pakistan linked to west particularly USA is now looking towards China.  

The political landscape of the world is changing and new great games that have begun that have started in our region and other parts of the world will change the post World War II scenario for good. China has become a capitalist great power and strong game player. The session ‘Contemporary great games’ moderated by Ahmed Rashid was held in the marquee packed to its capacity. The panelists included Hina Rabbani Khar, Qaisar Mahmood, Roza Otunbayeva, Steve Coll and Viviana Mazza.

The session opened with a query from the moderator to Roza, former President of Kyrgyzstan, whether Russia and USA were retreating from the region while China was making new inroads. “We in central Asia this year are celebrating 25 years of independence. When USSR was collapsing our five countries had for the first time deal with the international powers. We have both mineral as human resources that number around 60 million. Billions of dollars of Chinese projects have been started in central Asia. Then we are to be linked with Pakistan on the Silk Route. I would say after 25 years we have again entered a new era,” she explained.

About the appearance of non-state actors on the scene she said like after the collapse of USSR we are on another wave. “We have seen men and women recruited to fight in Syria. We are dismayed on how to handle the situation. About Madrassas I hope you handle it in time,” Roza said.

Hina, who was Pakistan’s first woman minister said at most international forums American intellectuals and western scholars are talking about Chinese economic imperialism. “We have over blown the whole thing. It is not safe to put all your eggs in one basket. We should look to increasing our own exports and expanding our own industries. Contemporary great games – who will rule the world? The games are being played in the Middle East. Boundaries may be redefined there. Some say they were drawn by imperialist powers and they are not rationale. The main concern is overwhelming role of non-state actors. Their role is larger than ever before. The real challenge is to ensure that the real power remains with the states and not the non-state actors.

“After decades in the limbo we are now on the right track. Using religion as opium for the masses is no longer the option and has been abandoned. We have modernist and rationale approach now, which is the best possible thing happening,” Hina said.

Steve, who is a journalist, author and dean of Columbia Journalism School, was of the view that USA was not walking away from the region. “In Pentagon the central command that is part military wants to have sustainable and better relations with Pakistan and other states in the region. US perspective is that it wants to continue to support and maintain relations with its post World War II allies like Japan, Korea and Taiwan and new allies like Vietnam,” he was of the view.

Later talking about the change he sees in Pakistan, Steve said that it was the rise of the spirit of nationalism. “The country where I come from is diverse but the nationalism is very strong there. Here in Pakistan I see that spirit of nationalism building whether they are songs, plays or in the society as a whole. It could be a source of strength. The struggle is going on and the right side is winning. This festival represents that and that is why I came here,” Steve said. 

On a query about the migrant crisis in Europe Italian journalist Viviana said the region was facing a hard time and huge test. “Italy has been on the forefront. Attacks in Paris have even shaken the teenagers. The debate raged in media whether we should call them refugees or migrants. This reflected what was going on in people’s minds. Terrorism and migration are often linked and that is all confusion. Even children ask questions about them. They ask what is ISIS and what is Jehad? I was at loss of words to explain what they were asking,” she said.  

Qaisar said Europe was in a state of trauma. “The homogenous societies that existed there would not be there now. Europe is going to change completely for good,” he maintained.