A one-day international conference titled ‘Connectivity: Road to Peace’ was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 5, 2018, under the auspices of Lahore Center for Peace Research (LCPR), in collaboration with its Turkish counterpart, South Strategic Research Center (GASAM).The Conference was co-chaired by Pakistan’s Former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad Khan, Chairman LCPR and Cemal Demir, Chairman GASAM. The conference deliberations were focused on how regional, inter-regional, and cross-border linkages can be fostered to support the promotion of peace, trade and economic integration. The main recommendations of the speakers were as follows:
- There was consensus at the conference that no economic development strategies at the national or regional levels would work as long as the hunger of the gods of war remains unsatiated and until the underlying causes of conflicts are effectively addressed. This is true of South Asia, Northeast East Asia, Central Asia or West Asia as it is for Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Middle East.
- Participants agreed that peace and development go hand in hand, and nothing can pave the path for peace and security more than economic development through regional cooperation. In this connection, the conference also recognized the importance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a major factor of peace and prosperity across Eurasian
- It is expected to expand the linkages of peace and economy by providing multidimensional “connectivity side by side in five different areas: coordination of policies, connection of infrastructures and facilities, trade liberalization, free flow of capital, and people-to-people
- It was noted that this project had no geographical boundaries and was open to all countries with no exclusivity or selectivity. Its sole objective was to build peaceful, connected and prosperous societies in the vast region which is home to one-fourth of humanity. Every country in Asia must contribute to creating at the national and regional levels an enabling environment which is conducive to sustained economic growth and
- It was also noted that on its part, Pakistan would welcome all countries in the region, including India, as its partners in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. India, as a larger country in the region, must inspire confidence among its neighbors by building mutual trust and harmony and resolving disputes with its neighbor.
- The real challenge of statesmanship in our region is to transcend differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, and leave a legacy of peace for future generations. It is time this region, so rich in history, culture, and material and human resources, rediscovered its lost strength and regional identity to build dividends of peace and prosperity rooted in common
- Asia must capitalize on its own resources and reclaim its role as a balancing factor in the unipolar world by carving out a new niche for itself in the global geo-political matrix. Asian states must rise above sub-regional mode and concentrate on a common Asian cause by concerting their policies on issues of global relevance.
- It is also time for the voices of reason and responsibility — in all parts of the world — to caution against militarism and demand strict adherence by all states, large and small, to the UN Charter’s central principle: the prohibition of the use or threat of use of force in international relations