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Speakers call for people-to-people contacts to promote Pak-ASEAN ties

CGSS organizes roundtable at the Indonesia embassy; Indonesian ambassador sheds light on the concept of ASEAN awareness in Pakistan; Vietnam ambassador keen to make his country well-understood in Pakistan

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad in collaboration with Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Islamabad organized Dialogue with Experts on the topic “Pakistan-ASEAN Cooperation”. The event was organized in virtual format at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Islamabad.

This dialogue was attended by the Ambassadors and Diplomatic staff of the ASEAN countries residing in Pakistan. The business community of the ASEAN countries also actively participated in the session.

The session commenced with the opening remarks by Khalid Taimur Akram, Executive Director, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad. He expressed his gratitude to all the participants and diplomatic staff of the ASEAN countries. He stated that the initiative of creating awareness about the new framework of cooperation between ASEAN-Pakistan would bring immense benefits in multiple fields.

Adam M. Tugio, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Pakistan gave the welcome remark. He welcomed all distinguished participants and panelists.He shed light on the concept of ASEAN awareness in Pakistan. H.E. Adam Tugio stated that this initiative would enhance the bilateral relations between Pakistan and ASEAN. He stated that this broader engagement would further increase people to people and government to government contacts. Therefore, would promote tourism and cultural integration.

Major General Hafiz Masroor Ahmed (Retd), Vice President,CGSS welcomed all the participants. He stated that this era is of cooperation and globalization. Therefore, we all must identify the areas of joint collaborative measures and integration. The broader cooperation would benefit all parties involved and enhance multilateral relations, starting from ASEAN-Pakistan cooperation.

Aamer Ahmed Atozai, DG, East & Asia Pacific Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan stated about a greater aim of Pakistan’s look East policy, especially, the ASEAN member states. He explained that in 1993 Pakistan became the Sectoral Dialogue Partner (SDP) of ASEAN and since then it has been enhancing its efforts to gain the status of full dialogue partner.He discussed that Pakistan’s status of full dialogue partner would provide momentous to the multilateral and bilateral relations between ASEAN and Pakistan.Mr. Aamer Ahmed enlightened the audience that Pakistan’s look East policy accounts to increase business-trade relations mainly with ASEAN countries.

He highlighted Pakistan’s pivotal role in countering the common challenges. He stated that the Pakistan-ASEAN Sectoral Cooperation Committee is enhancing socio-economic development and working in number of fields.It has also been laying foundation for ASEAN countries and Pakistan to discover wider areas to progressively work.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Mazhar, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the Punjab, Lahore gave a detailed presentation on Enhancing Academic Cooperation between Pakistan and ASEAN Member states. He gave brief analysis on ASEAN 2020 targets to be achieved in multiple fields. He stated that Pakistan holds immense academic potential for the ASEAN region to engage into meaningful intellectual activities. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Mazhar explained that Pakistan has been offering many of scholarship programs in English Language for the ASEAN member states. He stated that academic cooperation among ASEAN members and Pakistan would increase people to people connectivity and cultural integration.

Prof. Dr. Shabir Ahmad Khan, Director, Area Study Center (Russia, China,& Central Asia), University of Peshawar gave a comprehensive presentation on Pakistan role in bringing peace and stability in the region. He stated that Pakistan is playing a constructive and significant role in regional stability and resolving the Afghanistan conflict. He stated that Pakistan believes regional integration is the only way to facilitate peace process. It will develop inter-dependence and stakes of regional states in each other’s stability. He also gave his analysis that Pakistan considers inter-organizational cooperation with BRI, CPEC, ASEAN, and CAREC. He highlighted Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process. He stated that bringing peace to Afghanistan is the responsibility of each state.

Shakeel Ramay, Member Board of Advisors, CGSS gave a detailed presentation on CPEC and prospects for ASEAN countries. He suggested to gauged potential amid RCEP, CPEC and its significant aspects. Mr. Shakeel stated that it is important to increase economic relations through CPEC as it will provide huge opportunities to ASEAN.While giving a detailed presentation, Mr. Shakeel discussed positive outcomes associated with CPEC, i.e., complementarities, existing potential in diverse areasand enhanced competitiveness. He suggested that ASEAN and Pakistan can cooperate in number of fields amid CPEC, including industrial, textile sector along with the energy sector. He stated that ASEAN countries have great financial capability. Thereby, financialinvestment in multiple economic projects in Pakistan would enhance cooperation. He concluded by stating that the agriculture and tourism sectors have a lot of potential to cooperate, thereby, there should be great focus on the collective and win-win situation of all countries involved in the process of inclusive economic development.

Prof. Dr. Saeed-ul-Hassan Chishti, Vice Chancellor, University of Sialkot gave a detailed presentation on improving industrial cooperation through ASEAN’s integrated framework: Prospects for Pakistan’s SMEs. He highlighted the relationship between ASEAN and Pakistan. Prof. Dr. Saeed gave a detailed analysis on Pakistan’s SMEs with relevance to ASEAN industrial cooperation. He stated that all big and famous cities of Pakistan, i.e., Sialkot, Lahore, Karachi have been recognized as a hub of wider industrial activities. He stated that ASEAN and Pakistan trade volume is $6.3bilion, scaling up to enhance economic engagement with ASEAN through its countries. He enlightened the audience that CPEC provides great opportunities to the ASEAN countries to enhance the multilateral ties and trade activities. Prof. Dr. Saeed stated that multilateral industrial cooperation would enable ASEAN-Pakistan to explore opportunities in a lot of fields.

Muhammad Rehan Younas, Executive Director, University of Sialkot stated that there are a lot of opportunities that come in the form of leadership and enhanced geo-economic relations. He explained that CPEC provides unprecedented opportunities. Therefore, universities and academic centers connected through CPEC can enhance cooperation in many diverse areas. Rehan proposed that there should be an integrated framework of collaboration on CPEC for sharing ideas and innovation. In this regard, UICI framework of reference for CPEC would ensure sustainability and consistency in enhancing relationship. It will further boost relationship and inspire all. He stated that the UICI framework of reference for CPEC will benefit all countries and universities connected through CPEC.

Major General Hafiz Masroor Ahmed (Retd), Vice President, CGSS gave the closing remarks and congratulated all the panelists and participants for successfully conducting the event. He appreciated and admired all the worthy speeches, presentations and encouraged for future cooperation.

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