Beaconhouse National University (BNU) Vice Chancellor Dr Moeed Yusuf has said that Pakistan should debate solutions and problems through geo-economics framework to start working towards its key goals rather than debating whether it is good or bad.
Delivering his keynote address on navigating complex geopolitics, and accentuating pivot to geo-economics, he said that the success of any consensual framework depends on implementation but the country was still debating on how to move forward. He said that the real question regarding geo-economics was how to move forward. He noted that there was a misconception of what ‘geo-economics’ was as far as Pakistan was concerned.
Dr Moeed Yusuf said that the geo-economics post-cold war became a Machiavellian concept in the Western world. However, he said that Pakistan adopted a cooperative geo-economics framework. For economic security, “you have to identify what things you will do in the economic sphere that will benefit your overall economy by ensuring negatives are curtailed,” he said.
Masood Khalid calls BRI reincarnation of China’s philosophical approach of win-win cooperation and peaceful coexistence
In his opening remarks, CPSC Director Dr Talat Shabbir said that the evolving international landscape has put nations on the crossroads of shaping their foreign policies in light of complex regional and global paradigms. “Pakistan is embarking on a transformative journey of pivoting towards geo-economics in order to leverage economic potential as a means of advancing national interests,” he said.
Speaking on the decade of CPEC, Ambassador Masood Khalid said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was the reincarnation of China’s philosophical approach of win-win cooperation and peaceful coexistence. Through BRI, “China is helping other economies,” he said, adding that CPEC was aligned with China’s neighborhood policy. He said that neighborhood was where China survives and thrives and the foundation of its stability, development and prosperity.
The speakers included Ambassador Masood Khalid, Ambassador Naghmana Hashmi, Prof Dr Zhang Jiegen, and Dr Rabia Akhtar. Ambassador Naghmana Hashmi spoke on the parameters of soft connectivity and tourism, and the role of CPEC in promoting soft connectivity. She said that CPEC was an enabler for promoting internal connectivity. She said that Pakistan should adopt a clear tourism policy that provides the sector a status of industry and tax holidays should be given to promote the sector.
She also said that CPEC has indeed improved things, and it can continue to improve things. However, “we have to give importance to sectoral development and adopt clear policies.” Speaking virtually from China, Dr Zhang Jiegen of the Fudan University stated that if they look back at history, Pakistan has adopted the right approach towards geo-economics which had been adopted by China as well during the 1970s and early 1980s.
“The first important point for achieving such a vision for geo-economics is national consensus,” he said. He said that the National Security Policy document reflected that all national leaders agreed to this new concept of geo-economics. “The policy is an evolving document, and it helps build consensus within the country,” he said.
Dr Rabia Akhtar spoke on an operationalizing pivot to geo-economics outlining essential pre-requisites that include most importantly political stability in the country, followed by the rule of law, controlling corruption, macroeconomic stability, diversification of economy promoting public private partnerships and promoting social security. In order to achieve this, “we need to collectively acknowledge what needs to be done and then do the needful.”
The session was followed by a Q&A session. Towards the end of the session, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood presented institute’s memento to the panelists. Besides the distinguished speakers from Pakistan and abroad, the session was attended by a large number of scholars, academics, researchers, practitioners, students, members of the diplomatic corps, and representatives of the media.