Pakistan was now looking at the region geoeconomically, not geostrategically
IRSHAD SALIM (Jun 1, 2018)– The mega CPEC program would continue to be implemented despite changes in governments in Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir is now been integrated into it with four ongoing projects.
“There would be continuity in CPEC related projects, which would be completed without interruption”, said the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan at a seminar in Vienna.
Titled “Pakistan’s New Role between China and Europe; Opportunities and Challenges of China’s Silk Road Project” the event was organized by the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES) attended by over 70 scholars, analysts, ambassadors, diplomats, UN representatives and members of civil society.
The AJK President who is also the former Pakistan ambassador to China said, “Pakistan was now looking at the region geoeconomically, not geostrategically”.
Khan who is also considered an expert in Pakistan-China relations, added that now many states were showing interest in CPEC and had already attracted the attention of Russia, Turkey, Italy, France and the UK and several other European countries were already consulting with Pakistan and China to participate in CPEC projects. The Gwadar Port, in particular, he said, would give Russia access to warm waters via Central Asia for international trade, helping begin a new phase of cooperation between Russia and Pakistan.
The audience took a keen interest in the possible resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The president said Jammu and Kashmir dispute should be resolved in accordance with the mechanisms established by the United Nations for the pacific settlement of disputes, which included dialogue, preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, negotiations and mediation.
He said Azad Jammu and Kashmir had now been integrated into the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and four projects under CPEC have been initiated. “These are two hydropower projects, one of them being directly funded by the Silk Road Fund, one expressway and an industrial zone”. He added that Azad Kashmir was a peaceful territory, with the lowest crime rate and highest educational score in Pakistan.
The seminar was hosted by Dr Werner Fasslabend, former defense minister and president of AIES, and co-hosted by Austria National Defense Academy and the Universal Peace Federation that were represented by Brigadier Walter Feichtinger and Mr Peter Haider respectively.
(The writer is a business consultant and analyst and Group Editor of PKonweb.com and DesPardes.com – His articles, reports and analyses also appear in Jeddah-based Al-Bilad English Daily and UAE-based Caravan Daily)