LAHORE: The Centre for Chinese Legal Studies (CCLS) at the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law (SAHSOL), LUMS, recently organised a virtual conference ‘CPEC: Pakistan-China Security and Strategic Cooperation’.
According to a press release, the conference was attended by Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman Defence Committee; Prof Uzair J Kayani, Head of Department, SAHSOL, and Prof Sikander A Shah, Director, CCLS. Members of the Pakistan-China Institute and the LUMS community also attended the event.
Senator Mushahid Hussain while giving a comprehensive overview of the Pakistan-China relationship explained that it was not limited to the CPEC flagship project only. He spoke of President Biden’s multilateral approach aimed at managing China’s growing influence in the region, and globally. In this vein, he highlighted the recently-held Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia, and India; the G-7 countries meeting; US-NATO summit, and the US-EU summit, each of which openly declared China as a global security challenge.
Mushahid also referenced the recent interview of Prime Minister Imran Khan with China Global Television Network, which reaffirmed the resolve that Pakistan will not succumb to any external pressure and downgrade its relationship with China.
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan, with its subsequent surge in violence, and the stalemate in intra-Afghan dialogue was also discussed by Senator Hussain. He also talked in detail about the CPEC projects that are instrumental in shifting Pakistan's focus from geopolitics to geo-economics by boosting connectivity, commerce, trade, and cooperation in the region. He referred to Gwadar Port as the mainstay of the CPEC, which, in the words of Robert Kaplan, Chief Geopolitical Analyst, “has the potential to be the Rotterdam of the Arabian Sea''
The completion of the first phase of CPEC projects, he explained, had brought monumental changes to previously underdeveloped and ill-utilised areas like Thar. He also spoke of the second phase of CPEC that primarily focuses on agriculture, education, socio-economic development, Special Economic Zones and the relocation of Chinese small and medium enterprises, that will further advance economic and human development in Pakistan.
He commented upon the growing strategic cooperation between Pakistan and China, where the latter has backed Pakistan’s efforts in the UN Security Council regarding various issues. He also highlighted the common challenge of hybrid warfare that both Pakistan and China face from their adversaries, which can be overcome by dispelling the myths surrounding CPEC. Senator Mushahid concluded by referring to China as a crucial pivot in Pakistan’s general foreign policy and emphasising the tremendous potential of the CPEC in propelling infrastructural and human development in Pakistan. He added that regardless of the challenges, they are surmountable given Pakistan’s strategic space in the region by virtue of CPEC, and the growing relationship with its neighbouring countries.