“Margalla Dialogue: Evolving World Environment: Chartering the Course for Our Future.”

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi, while inaugurating Margalla Dialogue on Wednesday, said that evolution of human and state-centric history is full of incidents of lawlessness, wars, anguish and the tendency to maneuver religion and politics. The flagship annual dialogue organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) theme was “Evolving World Environment: Chartering the Course for Our Future.”

The president listed out multiple challenges facing the world at large and said that Artificial Intelligence has turned out to be a direct and indirect threat by virtue of its encroaching space in all walks of life. Likewise, he said that changing world environment is impacting state policies and now it is no more an issue of how states and respective governments want them to be.

President Alvi pointed out at rampant poverty which could have been averted even if a marginal section of budget spent on wars had been diverted towards human development. He also spelt out mental health, narrative building and unhappy humanity as factors that go on to evolve a new society in these modern times.

He, however, was optimist that democracy anchored in humanity, ethics and better thinking will create positive vibes and the world will evolve itself into a better entity.

The president made great referrals to current and ancient history and observed that evolution is always been with the powerful strata of society, and the principle of might is right is associated with vested interests. He referred to wars in Europe, the role of Church and State in state evolution, as well as the Westphalian Treaty of 1648, and said that one of its greatest achievement in evolving decency in state affairs was the decision that arms would rest with the government/State and borders were drawn for redefining activity between divergent societies.

He called for working against wars, hate and bias, and remarked that emotionalism, phobias and exaggeration leads to devastation of societies and plunges humanity in chaos.

He called upon the United Nations to evolve a new cardinal role in working for peace and a just society based on value of emancipation and humanity.

President Alvi appreciated the holding of the dialogue which in a short span had carved out a niche amongst the prestigious security and development dialogues of the world. He mentioned that the new age is defined by a tectonic shift in the geo-political landscape of the word due to great power competition. According to him the world was hunkering down for competition and rival blocs at a time when the nature of emerging threats like climate change, pandemics, economic insolvency, poverty and the tyranny of algorithm driven social media.

The impact of technology on media and society was another aspect that needed debate for a better understanding of the emerging realities. Since the threats to the regional and international security emanated from the security dilemma caused by the military centric alliances the preference for trade, connectivity and partnerships emerges as the preferred option for sustainable peace and prosperity.

*Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar, in his special address, highlighted the internal and external threats to national security, identifying the lax implementation of rule of law, weak governance, proxy warfare, weak economy, and low preference accorded to human security as the main causes of internal strife.

He highlighted the importance of national resolve, socio-economic justice, political stability, and good governance in strengthening the social cohesion and economic sinews of a nation.

The caretaker prime minister said that we are living in an era of multilateralism. He mentioned the rise of India as an economic power in the region, and observed that Pakistan has no problems with as far as peace is institutionalized and irritants such as Kashmir dispute are addressed.

He talked at length about the war on Gaza, and condemned Israel for its atrocities, and asked how many casualties of children shall be needed to appease the “anger of Israel.”

Kakar talked about internal challenges facing Pakistan, and was optimist that a nation of 250 million will carve out its way on the merits of a bulging youth population of 65 percent. He said that the youth needs to be energized, and invested upon in the right sphere by inducing skilled human development.

The PM talked about new regional security alliances such as QUAD, the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the rise of China and Pakistan’s strategic alliance with Beijing.

He remarked that India is flirting with the Western hemisphere in a bizarre attempt to contain China.

He said that the present day competition is more economic in essence than strategic.

The caretaker Prime Minister remarked that Pakistan does not incentivize conflict, as India does, and called for erecting an order that promotes connectivity in the region. He called upon India to be part of it, and shunned the impression that Pakistan has a problem with Indo-China or its growing relations with the United States.

Reiterating that Kashmir is an impediment in India-Pakistan relations, he observed that the right of Kashmiris people to decide their future cannot be denied for long, though. “Neither Pakistan nor India should impose a solution on Kashmiris,” he added.

He talked about the western borders of Pakistan with Afghanistan and said that the day Kabul has a legitimate government, issues will start settling down.

Talking about trade and commerce, he said that India cannot be excluded from what is happening in the region in the name of connectivity. However, he said that there should be a mutual balance, and Pakistan will decide on trade keeping in view its economic interests.

He also talked about politics of Hindutva, and said that Pakistan has no issues with Hindu religion, and prided that it has a great Hindu community that is working for the glory of the country.

Kakar accepted that non-state actors are posing security threat in Pakistan, and defended the policy to expel illegal Afghan nationals. He shunned the narrative that ethnic and lingual affiliations should supersede the phenomenon of illegality, and questioned which country housed more than 1.5 million illegal people?

Kakar also refuted the impression that Pakistan should choose between China and the United States, and advocated a foreign policy that takes into account tangibles on both sides and is balanced in approach.

By Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri