ISLAMABAD: South, central and west Asia needs a regional security architecture to address common security concerns, said German Charge d’ Affaires Dr Jens Jokisch on Monday.

Dr Jokisch was addressing a conference on ‘Regional Security and Foreign Policy in South, Central and West Asia,’ which was organised by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and Strategic Vision Institute (SVI).

The diplomat said mega-projects can only “work out in [a] secure and stable political environment”, which are possible through a functional “regional security architecture”, which he said was “desperately needed”.

“There can be no stability without prosperity and...no prosperity without stability,” he said.

Dr Jokisch’s suggestion is based on the German experience. Germany had in the 1970s worked for developing common security systems in Europe, which he said reduced tensions and built confidence between governments and between the people.

The German acting ambassador observed that there were different formats in the region, not all of which were functioning. He pointed to the recently conducted Heart of Asia ministerial meeting during which bilateral problems had eclipsed bigger issues.

He emphasised on the need for continuous dialogue and confidence building measures.

“Confrontation in the long term can be overcome through long term mutual engagement. Tensions can only be reduced through constant [dialogue],” he said, and called for overcoming the Cold War time ‘zero sum logic’, under which one can only be a friend if he is not the opponent’s friend. Overcoming this will create a win-win situation,” he said.

Dr Jokisch also talked about cooperation on water resources and economic development.

Strategic Vision Institute President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said Pakistan’s regional environment was very challenging and that the increasing closeness between India, Iran and Afghanistan, as manifested by their growing diplomatic and defence ties, needs to be followed. He said the challenge before Pakistan was to strike a balance between its commitment to Saudi Arabia and relations with Iran, address Afghanistan’s concerns and engage meaningfully with India.

Centre for International Strategic Studies Executive Director Ambassador Sarwar Naqvi agreed with the German diplomat and said the ‘zero-sum’ concept was outdated in today’s modern world. He gave the example of China which has friendly relations with Pakistan as well as trade ties with India. A traditional ally of India, Russia has also developed a good relationship with Pakistan, he said, and that though the US was considered a friend of Pakistan, it had developed a strategic partnership with India while it kept a good and productive relationship with Pakistan.

Other scholars examined the security and political dynamics in south, west and central Asia.

Attended by policy makers, academia, media representatives and students, the conference was aimed at analysing issues affecting peace and security in south and central Asia and the future trends which are likely to shape the security environment of the region.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2017

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