The Centre for Middle East & Africa (CMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a delegation from the International Research Council for Religious Affairs (IRCRA) on Thursday including participants from Afghanistan.
President IRCRA, Mr Muhammad Israr Madani was also present on the occasion. Director CMEA, Ms. Amina Khan, and who also works on Afghanistan, welcomed the delegation and gave a brief introduction of the ISSI.
Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry briefed the delegation on global politics and Pak-Afghan ties.
He noted how at the end of the Cold War, it seemed that the world was heading towards multi- polarity. After events of 9/11, terrorism and counter terrorism became the focus of the world stage. Presently, however, the world is seeing intensifying competition between United States and China.
In order to counter China’s rise, the US has embarked on its Pivot to Asia strategy, where among other things, it is trying to fortify India as a counterweight to China. Amidst this competition, the issue of terrorism has taken a backseat.
Giving a political and geo-strategic overview of different regions, Ambassador Chaudhry was of the view that in India, the present Modi government is bent on making India a Hindu Rashtra while in the Middle East, many countries are still entangled in civil war. Europe is also embroiled in its internal issues and has not asserted itself as an active participant in global and regional politics.
In the backdrop of this scenario, he talked about the situation in Afghanistan and the peace process which is paramount not only for Pakistan but for the region and subsequently the world.
He outlined points which need special focus in this regard: the presence of foreign troops on Afghan soil, the formation and composition of the Afghan government, attainment of a sustainable ceasefire to end bloodshed and the responsibility of regional and other important countries to not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
He also highlighted the importance of a conducive Pak-Afghan relationship, and said that Afghanistan is and always will be Pakistan’s neighbor, therefore both countries need to expand the contours of their bilateral relationship, hence it is for the benefit of both countries and for the entire region that this relationship improves.
He concluded by saying that it was essential for both sides to expand cooperation on all levels, be it political, economic, military, or people to people contacts. He also emphasized on how the ISSI is working on increasing its outreach to Afghanistan through academic linkages and welcomes such initiatives to further strengthen the bilateral relationship.