China calls for strengthening multilateral institutions
Islamabad : Multilateral institutions should be strengthened, while international law should be respected and upheld, Chinese ambassador Yao Jing said on Thursday.
“We (China) are not seeking domination. We want to build a new kind of world order based on mutual respect and understanding,” he told the Ideas Conclave 2019 organised by the Jinnah Institute at a hotel here.
During the session on ‘Cold War Lite: History’s Shadow on Today’s Chessboard’ with former foreign secretaries Tehmina Janjua and Jalil Jilani, and former foreign minister and PML-N MNA Khurram Dastagir Khan as panellists, the Chinese ambassador said peace after the League of Nations was short.
He said China learned from history that when countries imposed their will on others, conflicts occurred.
“The current world situation is similar. China views it as unpredictable and uncertain,” he said.
Yao Jing said his country and didn’t seek a trade war with the US and wanted to negotiate.
“We want to keep growing economically. Our solution is to negotiate our way forward,” he said.
The ambassador said China upheld its basic principle that every country had its own history and governance.
“We don’t impose our systems,” he said adding that connectivity and economic integration in South Asia is important for China.
Tehmina Janjua said Pakistan needed to view foreign policy in broader alignments and not binaries.
“We must seek our relationships with China and US in this context,” she said.
The former foreign secretary said the ingress of Hindutva fascism that ruled India today had impact on Pakistan and its Kashmir policy. She said Pakistan shouldn’t ignore the Quad, a security grouping of the US, Japan, Australia, and India.
Tehmina Janjua said as the US department of defence was aggressively pursuing the Indo-Pacific strategy.
She said major changes had been taking place at the international level.
Insisting that Washington’s policies are focused on Beijing, the former foreign secretary said at the military and economic levels, there had been the West-led alliances, which had been forged to contain China.
Jalil Jilani said the US defence strategy focused on great power competition with Russia and China. “The American national security is now overwhelmingly focused on looking at the rise of China as a threat economically and militarily,” he said adding that the US analysts predict war.
The former foreign secretary said trade relations were not a good barometer for the quality of the relationship between two countries but they did impact the interdependencies. Khurram Dastagir said the US had been far more overbearing and intrusive than China had ever done in Pakistan. He said the world wanted to trade with each other but that was under threat by the US.
The former foreign minister said in the 2013-14 period, the western world, especially the US, treated Pakistan like a pariah.
“Only China came in and supported Pakistan economically and diplomatically. This period began with our pivot towards Russia and deeper ties with China,” he said.
Khurram Dastagir said the US had abandoned multilateralism and the Chinese president had taken up the challenge to fill that void.
“Geopolitics is back after the cold war. New groupings of countries will shape the future of the world,” he said.
Another session was held on ‘From War to Exit Wounds in Afghanistan’ with former foreign secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan, writer Zahid Hussain and expert on Afghan issues Rahimullah Yusufzai as panellists.
Riaz M Khan said people should not presuppose that an exit from the war in Afghanistan was imminent.
He said there were questions marks that remained.
“What will be the transitional government arrangement? What sort of constitutional changes are needed? Will human or women rights be protected? Room of optimism exists but several problems are yet to be addressed,” he said.
The former foreign secretary said success in Afghanistan would depend on the emergence of a coalition of Afghan factions that were committed to peace and could ostracise elements of violence and extremism in Afghanistan.
Rahimullah Yusufzai said the reconciliation process in Afghanistan was irreversible.
“Any side that backs out now will be criticized,” he said.
The expert said the peace deal between the Afghan Taliban and the US was a done deal.
“We should see the first agreement of many after August. If the US agrees to a reasonable withdrawal timetable and the Taliban agree to an intra-Afghan dialogue, the peace deal is in sight,” he said.
Rahimullah said a way-out from direct talks between the Taliban and Afghan government had been found through an intra-Afghan dialogue, where government spokesmen were part of a wider delegation.
“The Taliban know that the US is desperate to withdraw. They have virtually dictated terms of dialogue. They have also set the agenda of talks. The Taliban are inflexible because they have gained recognition internationally. They are being feted,” he said.
He said the Indo-Pak tensions won’t hugely impact on Afghan peace process as all stakeholders wanted it to succeed.
Zahid Hussain said the Afghanistan war’s original sin was the Bonn Conference, where Khalilzad pushed out the Afghan Taliban, who were ready to talk at that time.
“Today, he (Khalilzad) is sitting opposite Mullah Baradar and negotiating peace. This is ironic,” he said.
Zahid Hussain said the Taliban militants would like to capture as much as they could before the truce agreement happened.
He said Pakistan was under pressure to make the Taliban agree to ceasefire, while the Taliban would listen to Pakistan but they would take decisions on their own.
Panellists of another session on ‘India, Pakistan and Kashmir: Where Do We Stand?’ discussed India’s move to withdraw the held Kashmir’s special status and split it into two, and its impact on Pakistan’s future policy with respect to India.
Former foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar said there was no negotiation or prospect for dialogue with India anymore. He said Hindutva policies with Indian PM Modi and home minister Ameet Shah would continue, while there would be very little prospect of normalisation with such a government in New Delhi.
Former ambassador Tariq Fatemi said the BJP had made no bones about the fact that perceived India as a Hindutva state.
“They (BJP) haven’t accepted the creation of Pakistan. They don’t believe in a relationship of sovereign equality with Pakistan,” he said.
Tariq Fatemi wondered what would happen when the people of the occupied Kashmir took to the streets.
“India will seek to crush the independence movement of Kashmir. This will have an impact on Pakistan,” he said.
Foreign policy expert Rabia Akhtar said for decades Pakistan had said that Kashmir was a nuclear flashpoint.
“Pakistan has to use all other means to bring the Kashmir crisis on the front with viable policy options,” she said.
Jinnah Institute president Sherry Rehman said India had reset history on Aug 5, 2019, by annexing the occupied Kashmir at gunpoint.
“Despite our limited options, we will continue to support the Kashmiri people in their struggle for the right to self-determination but what will happen in Kashmir will not stay in Kashmir,” she said.
Sherry Rehman said Pakistan was at a crossroad like never before, so it should roll out its policy options without delay.