The 6th Summit of CICA
Recently, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held its sixth summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. Presidents of as many as 11 countries, including from Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine, Russia, Tajikistan, Türkiye, and Uzbekistan – President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko participated as an observer – and Vice Presidents of Vietnam and China attended the summit. In addition, nearly 50 delegations from member states, observer states, observer organizations, partner organizations, and guests of the chairmanship the summit attended. Owing to the huge importance of this platform Pakistan can gain maximum benefit from, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif himself represented Pakistan at such an important regional intergovernmental organization for the Summit.
PM Shehbaz’s address
While addressing the summit, PM Shehbaz Sharif made a powerful statement whereby he aptly articulated Pakistan’s key priorities and perspectives on a host of issues and also affirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the principles and purposes of CICA. In his speech, the premier focused on peace among nations to achieve the goal of prosperity. He also skilfully presented Pakistan’s point of view on important national, regional and global issues. He strongly favoured peaceful dialogue in resolving conflicts with other countries, including the neighbouring India, in a bid to achieve the goals of prosperity of the nations and the region. He said that Pakistan desired peaceful relations with all its neighbours, including India. ”We are willing to engage with India for the sake of prosperity and development as both sides of the border cannot afford to deal with massive challenges of poverty and unemployment amid meagre resources,” he said.
“Pakistan,” he added, “is absolutely ready and willing for a discussion with Indian counterparts to promote trade and investment provided they showed the sincerity of purpose … [o]nus remains on India to take necessary steps to engage towards the result-oriented solutions.”
The prime minister highlighted India’s unabated atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir for the last seven decades, where, he said, the Kashmiris faced continued denial of their right to self-determination. He urged other countries to take notice of India’s “bullet over ballot” policy
PM Shehbaz called for pooling resources among the regional countries to address the common challenges in the interest of peace and progress. ”If we team our resources, Asia can stand with pride and achievement,” he said. “Through constructive dialogue, we can build mutual trust.”
He mentioned Pakistan’s location offering a natural bridge among various economies of the region and invited the CICA member states to consider benefiting from the trade, investment and business opportunities offered by Pakistan.
The prime minister also dilated on the Palestine dispute and Afghanistan situation and stressed the need for a peaceful way to resolve them.
The Astana Statement
At the end of the summit, the Astana Statement on Transformation of the CICA was adopted according to which the Heads of State or Government of the Member States of CICA agreed to launch a “structured, inclusive and transparent negotiations process of gradual, incremental and consensus-based transformation of CICA into a full-fledged regional international organization.”
It is an important gesture that Pakistan expressed willingness to work with all the neighbouring countries including India in economic development. Unfortunately, the present Indian regime prefers to follow its hegemonic policies rather than to improve relations with SAARC countries. Pakistan is adopting a clear policy that it is interested in maintaining strong relations with all countries for the sake of regional peace and prosperity. The minorities in India are unsafe as the Hindu extremists are forcefully promoting Hindutva ideology. PM Shehbaz Sharif rightly stated that India is negating UN resolutions on the Kashmir issue for the last seven decades and committing the worst atrocities on innocent Kashmiris. Pakistan has always desired for meaningful and result-oriented engagement yet India always steps back.
The writer is a Sialkot-based journalist and columnist.