Pakistan must prepare itself for global challenges, says ex-NSA Moeed Yusuf

Published December 6, 2022
Speakers photographed at a conference titled Geopolitical Conflicts: Implications for Pakistan’s Geo-economic on Monday. — Photo courtesy SDPI Twitter
Speakers photographed at a conference titled Geopolitical Conflicts: Implications for Pakistan’s Geo-economic on Monday. — Photo courtesy SDPI Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Former national security adviser (NSA) Dr Moeed Yusuf on Monday emphasised that Pakistan must prepare itself to face the changing global geo-political and geo-economic situation.

Speaking at a conference on theme, Geopolitical Conflicts: Implications for Pakistan’s Geo-economic, he said unipolarity is transforming into a new world order, which will make it difficult for Pakistan to escape its implication.

The 25th Sustainable Development Conference was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and jointly held alongside UNESCAP’s 6th South and Southwest Asia High-level Political Forum and Policy Dialogue on SDGs. The four-day conference is being held in Islamabad from Dec 5 to 8.

Dr Yusuf said Pakistan can either become a proxy ground for great power contestation or emerge with a model where destabilised Pakistan is unfavorable for the world. He said Pakistan needs a strategy to send skilled labour to aging countries so as to increase remittances.

He suggested that Pakistan also needs to take bold policy choices, decentralise power to local governments and allow lateral entry of experts to revamp the government structure. He stressed the need for deregulation and privatisation of economic space and prioritising policy continuity in key governance areas through legal and constitutional guarantees.

Ahsan Iqbal urges regional countries to make joint efforts to achieve common goals

Former chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee retired Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat said geo-strategic contest of power at global level and regionally RSS-driven and BJP-led Bharat and associated Akhund Bharat ideology had serious geo-strategic ramifications for Pakistan.

He said that it’s not pure geo-economics, but intertwined geo-strategy and geo-politics at play. He stressed the need for devising concrete policies to accelerate clean energy transition and exploiting blue economy to access unexplored markets. He suggested that moving forward, “we need to explore digital, cyber and space technology and get in sync with states to diversify markets and capitalise human resources”.

At another panel discussion, titled “Can National Trade Policies Help Mitigate Climate Change?”, Dr Asad Hayyauddin, a former bureaucrat, said trade and climate had a nexus alluding to the cost of damage due to environmental degradation of carbon-intensive businesses and its perpetrators are responsible for compensating the damage done to ecology.

He said Pakistan was not a developed state due to its alienation to three agreements of information technology, and environmental good that needed to be focused to achieve sustainable development.

Dr Fahad Saeed, Climate Scientist at Climate Analytics, Germany, said Pakistan is geographically situated in the two most important climatic zones where strong monsoon systems and westerly waves impact its environment and increase its vulnerability due to climate change.

He said Pakistan and Bangladesh were equally vulnerable due to climate change, but the latter bagged double climate finance of $14 billion in comparison to that of $7.7bn secured by Pakistan.

Managing Director, National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Sardar Mohazzam said the policy approach in terms of trade and climate was top to bottom, which should be opposite for grassroots level intervention for promising outcomes. He said carbon dioxide emissions, almost 50pc of overall nationally determined contributions, were coming from the energy sector. “We will have to focus on energy sources at local level,” he said.

Head of Agro, PepsiCo Pakistan Haseeb Malik said 36 million hectares of land had been irrigated in Pakistan, which was consuming over 50pc freshwater resources. However, drip irrigation technology can help reduce 70pc water consumption at a particular area of cultivated land.

Chief Economist of Bank of Punjab Syed Sayem Ali said 30pc imports of the country are of energy related that made it one of the most energy dependent economies in the world. Data suggests that global trade has increased to $30 trillion from $5tr this year whereas the carbon emissions have also doubled.

Earlier, at another inaugural ceremony, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal called upon the regional countries to make joint efforts to achievie common goals of poverty alleviation, literacy, sustainable socio-economic development, and mitigation of climate disaster impacts.

The minister urged the international finance institutions to establish a special fund to provide interest-free loans with grace period of up to 30 years to developing countries to help them cope with climate disasters.

Planning Secretary Syed Zafar Ali Shah said the recent flooding in Pakistan has incurred a loss of over $30 billion while the country needs at least $1bn for rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the flood-hit areas.

Mikiko Tanaka, Director and Head of UNESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia, Thailand, said regional countries are confronting with difficult times and, therefore, they need to strengthen partnerships for regional development. She said UNESCAP will continue to support member countries in achieving SDGs or 2030 agenda.

Knut Ostby, the UNDP Country Director, said Pakistan has made significant progress in certain goals such as poverty eradication, access to energy, under nourishment, food insecurity, housing and climate change. “We don’t need only concrete buildings, we need society to be resilient which is linked to SDGs.”

Deputy Minister for Planning, Hous­ing and Infrastructure of Maldives Fath­­imath Niuma said regional and sub-regional collaborations are vital to cope with the Covid pandemic.

Shehan Semasinghe, Minister of State for Finance of Sri Lanka, said his country focuses on achieving high-level productivity through a diversified economy.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2022

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