Islamabad: (Parliament Times) The NUST Institute of Policy Studies (NIPS), Pakistan’s leading university-based think tank, organised a high-powered webinar to examine the implications of the ongoing China-India standoff on the security of the region and Pakistan. The virtual event was attended by former veteran diplomats, former senior military officials, academics, policy experts and eminent members of the think tank community. The webinar was chaired by Lt Gen Naweed Zaman, HI (M), (Retd), Rector NUST & Patron NIPS; and moderated by Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Director General NIPS and Principal NUST School of Social Sciences & Humanities. The participants unanimously opined that the current state of relations amongst major powers had turned the region into a critical zone for global peace and stability.
Initiating the discussion, Ambassador Riaz Khokhar, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, underpinned the imperative of peaceful and negotiated resolution of the dispute between the two nuclear-armed States over Ladakh. He highlighted that although both sides had declared peace, the standoff had worsened due to casualties reported on Monday in Galwan Valley. He said that India needs to act maturely and shun the dangerous tendency on its part to misread Chinese restraint as a weakness.
Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Kaleem Saadat, former Chief of Air Staff and President Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS), said that China was cognisant of Indian intentions, especially its hostile intent towards CPEC and Belt & Road Initiative, and that China was fully resolved to checkmate any hostile move by India. He advised that there was a need for overall preparedness to meet any adverse contingency in the region.
Ambassador Abdul Basit, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India, stressed that the ongoing India-China standoff indicated that the resolution of Kashmir dispute required the involvement of a responsible major power like China.
Lt Gen (Retd) Tariq Waseem Ghazi, former Defence Secretary of Pakistan and former President National Defence University (NDU), stated that Pakistan should seek a broad understanding with China in order to deal with Indian recklessness in the region in a way that would result in time in the resolution of Kashmir dispute on favourable terms. He also advocated a befitting response to India in case it indulges into any misadventure.
Vice Admiral (Retd) Khan Hasham bin Saddique, former Vice Chief of Naval Staff and former Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, said that Pakistan needed to differentiate its strategic partners from transactional partners and formulate a comprehensive plan of action based on this differentiation to meet diverse threats in the region.
Ambassador Aziz Ahmed Khan, former Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan and former High Commissioner to India, said that Indian unilateralism in the region was the major cause of the standoff with China and that Indian attempts to exploit the lack of clear and consensual demarcation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) had badly backfired.
Lt General (Retd) Masood Aslam, former Corps Commander 11 Corps, pointed out that the territorial integrity of China was a fundamental Chinese priority on which Beijing will never yield. He said India’s behaviour in the ongoing standoff suggested its domestic disarray and lack of clear policy of settling border disputes with its neighbours.
Ambassador Syed Hasan Javed, former Ambassador of Pakistan to Germany and Director Chinese Studies Centre NUST, highlighted that China can exploit multiple weaknesses of India along the LAC. He said Indian intransigence could lead to a major conflict in the region, and, therefore, cautioned a high level of alertness on Pakistan’s part.