The Centre for Pakistan Studies of the Academy of International Studies (AIS), Jamia Millia Islamia organized a talk on Pakistan’s Strategic Vision for South Asia on Wednesday 6 August at the Ho Chi Minh Conference Room of AIS. The talk was delivered by Dr. Moeed W. Yusuf, Director, South Asia Programmes, United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Yusuf dwelt upon the challenges and possibilities of strengthening India Pakistan relations with a vision for a better South Asia. Although he argued that the notion of South Asia was not very strong and whenever one talked about South Asia, one always talked about one specific country or the other. He therefore felt that strengthening bilateral ties between these countries was much more needed than just talking about South Asia.
Presenting his analysis of Peace and Conflict in South Asia with the help a system level analysis, Dr. Yusuf said that excluding Pakistan none of the countries of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) had any leverage towards India. He then stressed the need to bridge the psychological barrier that existed between India and Pakistan and said, “The reason for tension between the two countries is the inequilibrium which has led to “create space for strategic influence.” As Pakistan was way behind India in terms of military and economy, it anyway wanted to have its influence in at least one country which is Afghanistan.
Dr. Yusuf said that there could be three ways of solving the India-Pak problem: a) a forced solution, b) an organic solution and, c) a unilateral decision by the more powerful of the two. A military conflict, however, would be suicidal since both are nuclear powers, said he.
Speaking about Islamization as a major problem which has scuttled the process of democratization in Pakistan, he said that there is no Islamic but an international policy of Pakistan otherwise China, which does not talk about religion in any term, would not have been Pakistan’s best friend.
He said that trade agreements could open up some opportunities between the two countries but no serious attempt was made in this direction. Elaborating it further he said that whenever Pakistan entered a successful trade agreement with any country of the SAARC, India was missing and whenever Indian entered any successful agreement with any SAARC country, Pakistan was missing. This is “not a coincidence”, he said, adding that there was a “conscious decision”.
He said the other game changer could be the visa issue because visas have high values and they can help build momentum. He further said that the role of civil society was not very effective in South Asia because of the reason that “in South Asia it is the State which creates the narrative”. He also ruled out the role of Corporations to this end as Pakistan’s market was not very big.
The former Boston University Fellow said that the younger generation was not concerned with India Pakistan conflict and there was more chance of resolution of conflict between the countries now than it was 15 years ago.
Dr. Yusuf who frequently appears on Pakistani and US media said that terrorism is a serious issue that each country needs to address but that was not the model that was applied 65 years ago.
Stressing the need for India’s extended role in strengthening Pakistan he said that “anything weaker than what Pakistan is right now is the biggest threat to India.”
Prof. Shri Prakash, Officiating Director of AIS, Prof. SD Muni, a renowned author and theorist of International Relations formerly associated with Jawaharlal Nehru University, Prof. Patrick Heller of Brown University, USA, teachers and students of different department of the university attended the talk.