ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning and Interior Ahsan Iqbal Tuesday suggested that Pakistan, China and Iran should create a community of shared prosperity in the region.
He was addressing an international conference on “Pakistan-China-Iran: A Trident of Regional Connectivity”, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).
“The age of geopolitics is over and the time has come for Pakistan to focus on geo-economics while looking for the regional options. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) envisages regional connectivity, therefore, we are looking forward to Iran for developing new infrastructure in the region and beyond,” the minister said. He added that Pakistan and Iran need to learn from China’s approach of reaping benefits by creating peace in the region.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, ISSI Chairman Ambassador Khalid Mahmood spoke about the goodwill that prevails among the three countries and said that the stage was set for them to achieve new milestones in the economy.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing chaired the first session, “Pakistan-China-Iran: Analysing the Prospects of Triangular Cooperation”.
In their presentation over the session, Research Fellow of Fudan University Shanghai Lin Minwang discussed the possibilities of the trilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Senior expert at the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) Tehran Ambassador Alireza Bikdeli emphasised that Pakistan and Iran must try to benefit from their neighbourhood position while keeping common development plans away from securitization.
Principal and Dean of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan suggested a two-pronged approach to cement the trilateral cooperation; facilitating the trident through constructing regional institutions and providing specific support to the least developed countries in the region.
Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost, chairing the second session on “Pakistan-China-Iran: Initiatives for Regional Connectivity”, opened the floor on a very positive note that regionalism was the key principle of Iranian foreign policy and it had much more to offer in energy market and transit trade to further this initiative.
Assistant Professor at the University of Tehran Dr Muhammad Jafar Javadi Arjmand put forth the idea of synergizing the three formidable forces – regionalism, economic diplomacy and multilateralism – to carry through the idea of the trident.
Vice President of China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Beijing Dr Rong Ying touched upon the competing visions on the regional initiatives and proposed that the three countries should find effective means to avert any possibility of confrontation through consensus.
NUST Department of Government and Public Policy Head Dr Syed Riffat Hussain stressed the need for peace in Afghanistan as the key to success of CPEC or any other regional initiative.
ISSI Chairman Ambassador Khalid Mahmood chaired the third session, “Challenges to Trilateral Cooperation and The Way Forward.”
Head of the Centre for International Research and Education (CIRE), Tehran Dr Hadi Soleimanpour said that China needed to help Pakistan and Iran with an integrated and comprehensive plan.
Beijing’s Renmin University Institute of International Affairs Director Dr Wang Yiwei said that shared trinity encompasses shared interest, responsibility and destiny.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood concluded the conference by thanking all the speakers and said the BRI and CPEC offered a lot of opportunities for the three countries, but those were contingent upon peace in Afghanistan.