The topic of the Forum encapsulates the most pertinent opportunities as
also challenges that the Asia-Pacific region faces today. Both these dimensions
have a particular bearing on this region because of its largely underdeveloped
state and dangers to peace and security that it faces.
Pakistan enjoys a unique geostrategic position on the global map. The world
has progressively come to acknowledge the inescapable relevance of the country
to regions which include Africa, the Gulf, West Asia and Central Asia on the one
hand, and South Asia, Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific, on the other.
It would be unrealistic to underrate the long unresolved issue of Jammu and
Kashmir between Pakistan and India in terms of prospects of peaceful development
and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Apart from its regional security
dimension, the heavy financial burden in military terms placed on Pakistan's
resources on this count continues to retard the pace of the country's overall
It was against such a backdrop that an exciting new avenue for laying the
foundations of durable peace and stability presented itself through the prospect
of the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Iran to India across
Pakistan. State-interdependence for procurement of such an essential commodity
as energy is the highest stake the respective sides can develop in mutual
Unfortunately, the project appears at the moment to have been bogged down -
not at the Pakistani end - by certain extra-regional powers' playing global
geostrategic games. Even so, Pakistan is still determined to see the pipeline
through to its own territory even if India opts out of the project.
At the same time, Pakistan is fast developing its infrastructure to become
a major energy corridor as between the oil-deficient China and possibly also
Japan on the one hand; and the oil-rich Central Asia, the Gulf region and
Africa, on the other. With the commissioning of the deep-sea port at Gwadar by
the yearend, the country would come to have the wherewithal for the purpose.
A vast network of highways and railways is also fast being constructed to
link up the port with all the neighbouring countries to facilitate not just the
passage of energy resources but also international trade. Pakistan and China
already have a tremendous advantage in this regard in the form of the Karakoram
The peace dividends of such a course to regional development are only too
obvious. In sharp contrast to the policies pursued earlier by some other global
powers, China must be complimented for taking up the pioneering role of
advancing regional development in Asia-Pacific that alone can guarantee
sustainable peace and security.