A delegation from the Royal College of Defense Studies, UK visited the Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG) at Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) on Thursday. The delegation was led by Major General (Retd) Simon Leslie Porter from the UK who was accompanied by an international team of members from the armed forces and a few civilians.
There were around 19 delegates from over 12 countries including the UK, Jordan, Nigeria, Germany, Sweden, Indonesia, Uganda, Republic of Korea, Spain, Colombia, Albania and Iraq. The CPPG faculty and Dr. Saeed Shafqat, Professor and Founding Director (CPPG), and Maj. General (Retd) Dr. Noel I. Khokhar, Professor and Executive Dean of Social Sciences and Management (FCCU) welcomed the team.
CPPG Founding Director Dr Saeed Shafqat opened up the Roundtable Discussion with the delegation by highlighting Pakistan’s transition to democracy by linking with its geo-startegic position and the impact it has on civil-military relations. He articulated that geo-strategic position has been a crucial factor in determining Pakistan’s wellbeing “both internally, and in its interactions with the rest of the world.”Nonetheless, over the past eight years the country has been on a path to democracy but “the challenge continues to be making it participatory, representative and sustainable.” Weak political institutions coupled with a problematic security situation have lead to a rise in extremist activity, which has cost Pakistan several years of development.
Dr. Khokhar added that the role of the military has been to secure peace and harmony in the country. While there is a view that exists that criticizes it for encroaching in domestic matters, the military has managed to maintain its status as in institution despite Pakistan’s turbulent political scenario. The armed forces have lost seven thousand soldiers in combating terrorism and insurgency in the past decade and half.
Throughout the Q&A session the enthusiastic officers of the multi-country delegation engaged with the CPPG faculty discussing various issues related to the development of Pakistan. Members of the delegation were in particular keen to learn about the law and order situation in the country and the response of the armed forces in combatting terrorism. They were also very interested in understanding the impact of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on the socioeconomic and political life of the country’s citizens.
With regards to the CPEC Dr Shafqat noted that there are three main perspectives on it: the first is characterized by governmental euphoria where the CPEC will dramatically change Pakistan and move it to a path of prosperity.
A second view is more hostile to the CPEC as reflected by several Indian, Pakistani and Western commentators alike who see the mega-project as challenging both internal and regional stability and development.
The third view is more academic driven by the logic of theory and evidence; to have a long-term understanding of the CPEC and takes on a calculative assessment whereby the CPEC can bring about desirable progress, given certain preconditions are taken into account.
Amongst these is the need to ensure political, ethnic and regional harmony within Pakistan. He asserted, without mollifying local concerns around the CPEC the current leadership will continue to struggle in developing a shared vision on both Chinese goals and Pakistani national interests.
The session ended with a vote of thanks by CPPG Founding Director Dr Shafqat who welcomed the delegation to Pakistan and wished them a fruitful journey here. The delegation appreciated the efforts of CPPG and its initiatives. Dr Imdad Hussain, CPPG Senior Research Fellow Raheem ul Haque, Dr Raja Ali Saleem, Research Fellow Maheen Saleem Khosa, Saba Shahid, Raffat Malik and Muhammad Hassan among others also participated in the event.