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If Gilgit/Baltistan and Kashmiri territories were not under the control of Pakistan, today there would not have been the concept of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to say the least. Luckily, Pakistan does have control over these regions and through them it shares a border of approximately 325 miles with one of the largest countries of Asia and today’s emerging Economic Power, i.e. China.
Since its birth, Pakistan enjoys an incredible geo-strategic importance from all the spheres of its location. However, through history it is observed that relations with Afghanistan, India and Iran have not been that much friendly. Ironically, Pakistan has hosted more than 1,320,394 Afghan refugees. But still the political bitterness has remained a bottle neck for smooth relations between the two. On the other hand, China remains the only country with whom Pakistan has shared a relation of true bonding nature since late 1940s.
The China-Pakistan relation can be related to that of Yin and Yang. As Yin Yang theory describes itself as a kind which views things in relation to its whole. The theory of Ying Yang is based on two basic components, Yin and Yang are neither materials nor energy. However they combine in a complementary manner and form a method for explaining relationships between objects and how they complement each other. So is the relation of China and Pakistan. Pakistan completes China by extending its political, humanitarian and moral support to China and so does China. China has strictly followed its tradition of helping Pakistan and has mostly presented itself for the defense of Pakistan. Director of Research South Asia Democratic Forum, Mr. Siegfried O. Wolf pointed out “…Beijing is supporting Pakistan’s policy of fighting anti-state militants, especially those groups that could pose a threat to CPEC.” It can be said that both China and Pakistan play a vital role to balance each other in times of need whenever possible.
China-Pakistan friendship or what the ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani described as ‘higher than mountains, deeper than the ocean, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey’ is not a very new thing to look upon. Instead it has travelled through a long journey. More than 21 Million Muslims are inhabited and practicing Islam in China since decades. A critic will argue that Pakistan’s official religion is Islam, by that reason it maintain sympathies for the Muslims of China living mostly in the western part of China i.e. Xinxiang, Tibet and Ningxia. Definitely religion is one of the factors of a bond between the two.
In 2009, on a radio interview, the then Ambassador of Pakistan to China, Mr. Masood Khan expressed the love of Chinese people towards Pakistani people. He emphasized on sharing the culture of both countries through exchange programs so that there is harmony and strength in relations. Even back then he pointed that Chinese people took interest in learning the National language of Pakistan, Urdu with immense interest and they used to practice it with Pakistani fellows who studied there.
Today after more than eight years, a clear transformation is seen in the relationship of both countries. People of both sides are learning from each other, traveling to and fro China and Pakistan, taking deep interest in each other’s culture, traditions, norms and values. It is thought provoking that China’s land area is really huge. Same is China’s population. It is massive. And for them China itself is enough to travel as a little percentage of it travels abroad.
Nevertheless, many Chinese families have moved to Pakistan and are traveling to Pakistan in huge numbers since Chinese’ Belt and Road initiative. This has given Pakistan an opportunity to mend any distrusts which might prove to be a barrier in good relations with the Chinese.
So far Pakistan and China both seem to be really excited and motivated to run brilliant bi-lateral relations along with other countries. Having the multi-billion dollars projects’ aside, Pakistan has opened itself to China as open as a real brother would for another. From micro to macro level, the ties between Chinese and Pakistani people would lift the shaky situation of South Asia. It will help stabilize the political and economic structure which will keep the region intact for the centuries yet to come.
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Islamabad: 28th January 2014
National Defence University
Kashmir: Looking Beyond the Peril
One of the best two-day International workshops held at the National Defence University (NDU). This productive and educational summit was organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA) which is part of NDU. The Army Institution discussed the Kashmir issue and bringing the two nations, India and Pakistan together to work upon. The workshop was attended by international social scientists and a larger number of audiences from different Universities of Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. All the participants attended different sessions which included:
First day of the workshop, 27th January 2014 started with the recitation of verses from the Holy Qur'an, followed by welcome remarks by the President of National Defence University in the NDU Auditorium. Chief guests of the workshop started with the opening speeches which built a base of the theme of the workshop "Kashmir: Looking beyond the Peril" with an aim to resolve the Kashmir dispute without the intervention of any conflict.
Various plenary sessions were conducted each one chaired by experts alongside two speakers belonging to a variety of background, knowledge and expertise.
The sessions held by the trio in three different rounds of speeches and debates included:
Topic: The Nature of Kashmir dispute: Revisiting Human Dynamics vs Territoriality
Chaired by Ambassador Khalid Mehmood
Speakers: Ms Atia Inayatullah and Mr. Wadah Khanfar, President of Al Shark Forum, an independent network dedicated to developing long term strategies for political development, social justice and economic prosperity of the people of the middle east.
Session held by Ms. Sherry Rehman included speakers Dr. Christopher Snedden along with Ambassador Inam ul Haq discussing Quest for sustainable Peace in South Asia: A review in the backdrop of People's Aspirations, Nuclear Responsibility and Economic Growth.
The third session started with the gestures of an humble old friendship of the 'two' who brought smiles on the faces of the audience as the one wanted to let the other go to the stage first, these two were none other than Mr. A.G Noorani from India and Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi from Pakistan. The session started with the opening comments by the Chair Dr. Maleeha Lodhi along with Mr. A.G Noorani and Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi who discussed the Approaches to Unknotting the Issue, specifically Kashmir dispute.
Apart from the extraordinary plenary sessions in this two days Workshop, four different Academic Sessions were also held led by experts. These sessions were conducted in the seminar halls of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA).The first session was led by the Dean of the Faculty of Contemporary Studies, NDU, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, whose co-speakers included Anuradha Bhasin from the occupied Jammu and Kashmir (or vice versa), Mr. Andrew Douglas Carl, Ms. Gulden Ayman and Mr. Moeed Yusuf. This academic session carried the topic of Confidence Building Measures and beyond.
An academic session was chaired by Mr. Rasual Bakhsh Rais a well-known social scientist and a Professor of one the prestigious institutions of Pakistan, LUMS, along with the speakers Mr. Ejaz Haider, Dr. Muhammad Khan and Ms. Shaheen Akhtar from National Defence University. The speakers put their vision on the subject Non Traditional Security Challenges and presented their thoughts.
On 28th January, an academic session was chaired by General Athar Abbas alongside two other speakers including Victoria Schofield and Mr. Zahid G Muhammad, who with the best of their scholarly skills and expertise threw light on the Role of Media in Kashmir Conflict. At the same time, another session was also going side by side in another Seminar Hall of ISSRA, which was chaired by Major General Noel Khokhar along with other expert speakers; Dr. Siddiq Wahid, Dr. Ms. Li Li and Dr. Ashfaque Hassan Khan who discussed Kashmir: A Bridge for rejuvenation?
All the sessions had tea break, lunch break and interactive sessions. The last day of the two day Workshop was concluded and wrapped up by trio Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Mr. A.G Noorani and Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi with the special presence of the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan. Mr. President presented his remarks about the workshop and termed it as fruitful for the future.
The last day of the workshop ended up with coffee and tea sessions in a lighter mood in the Mess Lounge, participated by all the participants, important personalities, students, foreign guests and scholars with one on one session. Positive gestures were shared by all the personalities and each shared the virtue with the cup of joy and hopefulness of a new dawn and awakening of the young generation under experienced mentors which may bring peace not just to the region, but to the entire earth, for generations!
National Defence University
Naqash Munir, currently working as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Assistant at Muslim Hands International, is a former member of National Youth Assembly (session 2015-2016), Master of Science in International Relations and has apprenticed at Institute for Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA) and National Assembly Secretariat (Parliament of Pakistan).
You never seem worried, asked thee. I am a traveler, worries are just dull sceneries, said me.