KARACHI: Professor Dr. Conrad Schetter, Associated Member of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), Directorate of the University of Bonn, Federal Republic of Germany recently addressed the members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on the topic, ‘ A German Perspective on Pakistan and Its Big Neighbours’.
Some of the highlighted points of this lecture are as follows:
- In today’s global politics, economic power has much more important than military or strategic power. This is a high time for Pakistan to relocate itself in its neighbourhood, citing the recent development of sea and land routes.
- Germany has very strong relationship with Pakistan and its neighbouring countries, for decades, but if you talk about cultural foundation of these relationships, name of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Pakistan’s national poet is very significant, who studied in Germany and completed his PhD from Munich University.
- Chinese focus is not on Gwadar, but Eurasia, building high speed railway system between China, Central Asia & Russia to Europe, which will start functioning in two weeks’ time. It will make traffic of Kabul from China to Europe much easier and cost effective in comparison to sea route.
- Pakistan deserves a better image, as if you follow German media, Pakistan is always mentioned when something bad happened like religious extremism, violence, Kashmir war, Balochistan issue, natural disasters etc. Sometimes, we got the impression that Pakistani politics was using insecurity in the country to attract international politics.
- India has built 5/6 big terminals at Attari, ready to connect for Eurasian transport, so far Pakistan and Afghanistan are not ready for this. I think this will be win-win situation for both India and Pakistan. Think about geo-economic and not geo politics. Today is a globalised world where power depends upon economy and not on military.
- Feudalism and Biradri system is preventing any social change in Pakistan’s society.
- CPEC is just a road between two countries, Pakistan and China, which is highly critical. Pakistan has potential to become a cross road, linking several countries. Many of its neighbours are already step further like Iran’s Chahbahar harbour, close to Gwadar. Iran has already built up a full corridor to Turkmenistan, working it to link Afghanistan to Central Asia. On the other side, the Turkmenistan has built a new railway system to Afghanistan.
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In future, Pakistan would need lots of energy resources. It is important for them to connect with Central Asian countries having large energy resources. Pakistan needs to build trust with central Asians countries, as they have great trust for India, but not for Pakistan.
- Pakistan is an agrarian society; when water resources will reduce in the country, it will create significant problems, especially to more than fifty per cent labour force of the country which is associated with agriculture sector. If you compare Pakistan with other societies like (large part of) India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, all these countries have started working on idea of ‘knowledge society. Pakistan also needs to change from an agrarian society to knowledge society. Germany can become its valuable partner in order to academic exchange.
- It is important to come up with regional regulated migration policy, involving Saudi Arab, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and the Gulf states. European Union, especially Germany, is ready to do everything in shaping up this migration policy.
- Friendship is not a right word for the relationship between Pakistan and China. China is very much focusing on its own economic interests. Now, Pakistan has to think if it will only depend on China or will make new partners.
- Army is the key player in Pakistani politics. In my eyes, for any kind of political innovation about Pakistan, we have not only to be considered the army, but, be included, directly.
- India-Pakistan relationship has key value for the whole region. There is a need of economic cooperation between both countries, as it is a tool for trust building. Germany has very good contacts in economic sector of both countries and could play a role of bridge for Indo-Pak economic cooperation.