This year was 4th ILF, but my first. Circumstances only allowed me to attend three and half sessions. But it was a really good experience. IT was my first time to actually attend a gathering of this sort where writers and intellectual from nearly all the fields are present.
(Faiz Ahmed Faiz Open Air Stadium: 3:30-4:30)
The session on Regional Connectivity and stability. Something as one of the audience directly pointed out to the one of speakers (Nasim Zehra: anchor person, columnist) as a topic never really discussed with vigor and facts it needs to be addressed with on the media.
5 speakers were present, Hina Rabbani Khar (26th Foreign minister), Anatol Lieven (Britsih Journalist, policy analyst), Nasim Zehra, Omar Zakhilwal (Finance Minister of Pakistan) and Jean François. Mr Zakhiwal like a true politician droned on for long time trying to state that international investors should focus on regional projects.
Nasim Zehra stated that asymmetry of power between military and government is the reason of setbacks on our economic growth she perceived that if we put behind chasing stability and focus on economic growth. Antol Leiven disagreed with this assessment saying if security and stability was not achieved, economic growth was not possible. Also the energy business due to sudden fall of fuel prices on international market has now become a very insecure investment for the investors. So if the security was not an assurance at a certain level such investments would not come easily. Hina Rabbani Khar said that during PPP rule their policy to start trade with India even with tension over Kashmir issue was an excellent decision and in which we got ever our regional issues for economic ones. In Pakistan or more like in south Asian region our basic problem is that economic issues are treated purely as political moves. Nobody moves forward or thinks further then 5 years of their tenure. Economic stagnation in the region is because territorial issues have over shadowed necessary progressive decision. Mr Jean Francois retold the history of France and Germany alliance on economic projects in 1951. Few years after the destruction of World war. The people already had fought two wars with each other, not mention the invasion of Paris by German, but French leadership understood that for regional peace and in hope there would now not be another war they initiated economical growth projects. They put people opinion aside and moved on, because they had a vision for the future. Same thing may not apply to our region but it could be partially adopted.
Even though we have very tense relationship with our neighbors. When events like Yadev ( RAW Agent) and Pathan Kot ( Terrorist attack ) happen things seem to spiral further down. But events should not over shadow the strategies of nations.
Summarizing: Regional Connectivity especially for the economic projects and massive development along with minor ones to support and keep the system functioning are necessary. This needs to be pushed by media. CPEC is a very major project and of huge importance but it can not happen if regional security and stability is not completely achieved. Political leaders should be strong and motivated enough to influence public opinions to get over prejudices and move on with things on economic front. The chances of political unity even for the interest of the country is in words of Pakistani Awam who have come to a sorry conclusion of “absolutely not”.
It was a vast topic but when it comes down to it was a lot of talk and lack of action which is how many projects in Pakistan just become names instead of things which have physical presence. A tradegy voiced by Hina Rabbini Khar on TAP gas pipeline a project on which “talks and discussion” started about 25 years back.
The session ended with people questioning would this generation see the economic growth of Pakistan or will it go down in wishful thinking. Will Pakistan be secure from international and internal sabotage long enough for CPEC to be fully functional.