Kashmir could ignite new cold war: Aziz

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ISLAMABAD — Top Pakistani diplomat says that territorial and border disputes in the region should be resolved or else they could trigger a new cold war.

The most viable option for peace and stability in Asia-Pacific is shared regional leadership that is inclusive not only of the major powers but also of other key players in the region, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz  told a seminar organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute on Emerging Security Order in Asia-Pacific and its impact on South Asia.

Aziz said the major powers had many interlocking interests and convergences on trans-border issues like cyber-terrorism, climate change and environment, UN peacekeeping, connectivity and open lanes of trade.

According to Aziz, the major players in security order were the United States, China and Russia. Pakistan believes a resilient Pak-US partnership is vital to regional and global peace and will bolster mutual commitment of the two countries to democracy, he added.

He said the US had also reaffirmed its support for the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000), Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, along with other measures to enhance regional economic connectivity and growth.

Aziz said geo-political and geo-strategic developments in Asia-Pacific had been moving rapidly in the recent past. The US brought greater focus on the region by launching the Asia Pivot in 2011, he added.

China Taking Lead

Regarding China’s initiative on expanding communications, Aziz said Beijing had unveiled plans to revive the ancient Silk Route by undertaking massive infrastructure projects and adding value to ports around the trade route that stretched from Pacific to Central Asia, South Asia, Middle East and Europe.

He said China’s One Belt Road initiative had two components: the overland Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the Maritime Silk Road (MSR). Aziz said it was an ambitious project coupled with China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) highlighting the changing global power dynamics in the context of the much talked about Asian Century.

China, with its 20% share in world population and having surpassed the United States in terms of purchasing power in 2014 was engaged in several diplomatic initiative to boost the region’s economic growth and create a win-win situation for all the participants, he added.

Aziz said Pakistan was located at the crossroads of South, Central and West Asia and uniquely placed to gain from stability and peace in Asia as a whole. He said these expectations were due to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Russia In New Security Order

Apart from the US and China, Aziz pointed out that Russia has again taken the centre-stage in regional as well as global politics. Pakistan has vibrant and robust relations with Russia. China, together with the United States and Russia, are important pillars in the newly emerging economic and security order of the region, he said.

It is unfortunate that some countries in the region are trying to divert attention away from the importance of CPEC, he said, adding that India’s loud objections to the CPEC and its attempts to gain support of elements hostile to Pakistan in the region were ill-advised.

Aziz said the recent deviation of India from all invitations to dialogue and peace belied its commitment to peace and harmony in the region. Pakistan, he added, favoured normalisation of its ties with India. “We also expect reciprocity from India with respect and dignity.”

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