‘Indian hegemonic designs hurdle to regional economic ties’

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Islamabad : Indian hegemonic designs have sabotaged the opportunity to enhance regional economic cooperation and integration being felt in the wake of COVID-19 and has made the situation in South Asian region more volatile putting the socio-economic wellbeing of millions of people as well as the peace and stability in the region at stake.

These views were expressed by the experts, scholars and academics at an online dialogue titled: ‘South Asia: Regional Stability and Security amid COVID-19’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Wednesday.

Highlighting the importance of broader regional and global cooperation to fight the pandemic, Air Chief Marshal (r) Kaleem Saadat, President of Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS), expressed dismay over the situation and said despite UNICEF’s immediate call for global ceasefire, the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Indian occupied Kashmir remained unabated and the tension between India and China at Ladakh border has further deteriorated the situation.

“It’s certainly not the time to fight but to enhance geo-strategic cooperation for the wellbeing of people in the region,” he said.

He said the pandemic is a non-traditional challenge for all the countries in the region but the Indian government is not ready to give peace a chance to flourish whereas it is heightening the tension with all of its neighbours.

Prof. Dr Guo Xuetang, Department of International Relations, Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, highlighting various dimensions of the geo-political situation in South Asia, said that South Asia has become hotspot of the international conflicts.

He said China doesn’t want war and instead, its policy revolves around regional and international development.

He said Indian nationalism, which carries hateful and hostile sentiments against China, is dangerous for the regional peace and stability, he said and added that talks with Indian authorities for the de-escalation of tension are going on, but the attitude of Indian government is a big impediment for the peace.

Earlier, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri stressed the need for regional cooperation to deal with the pandemic effectively.

He said in the best-case scenario, the regional countries should have learnt from China how to cure and control the disease but unfortunately, we are observing worst case scenario where three countries of the region, i.e. China, Pakistan and Nepal, are facing the hostile maneuvers of the Indian government.

“The locust swarm and COVID-19 are two unprecedented challenges that regional countries are facing,” Dr Suleri said.

He said no country could respond to such massive challenges in isolation and therefore, resorting to regional cooperation is need of the hour.

Brigadier (r) Dr Saif Malik, Director, India Study Centre at Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), opined that India has proved it time and again that it’s a big regional country by the size but small by heart.

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