Islamabad (Khyber Mail): Distinguished intellectuals and experts gathered at a roundtable organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) in collaboration with Beaconhouse National University (BNU) to deliberate on Pakistan-India relations. The discussion centered around the challenges and opportunities following recent elections in both countries.

Keynote speakers included former Federal Minister for Information Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Former Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs Khurram Dastagir Khan, Former National Security Advisor Gen Nasir Khan Janjua, and Former Finance Minister Dr. Salman Shah. Sherry Rehman, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, also addressed the gathering as the guest of honor.

Ambassador Jauhar Saleem (President, IRS) and Ambassador Mansoor Ahmed Khan (Director, Beaconhouse Center for Policy Research) initiated the dialogue by analyzing the current state of Pakistan-India relations. They posed a critical question: What is Pakistan’s current position, and what steps should be taken next? The panelists explored various approaches, including formal dialogues, track II initiatives, and alternative backchannel methods, to engage with India. They also discussed resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, enhancing economic ties, and promoting normalization between the two nations. Some experts advocated strengthening ties with Afghanistan and adopting a strategic approach with China. Former diplomats suggested seeking assistance from Russia and the US to facilitate dialogue.

The participants emphasized bolstering Pakistan’s internal socio-economic and military capabilities while improving governance. They stressed that effective dialogue hinged on creating an enabling environment for key areas of engagement, addressing mutual concerns such as climate and water, and upholding Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. The importance of both sides honoring the Indus Waters Treaty was underscored during water negotiations.

Additionally, participants highlighted the need for clarity on Pakistan’s long-term foreign policy objectives. They called for a regional cooperative approach to tackle multifaceted challenges, including poverty, human security, and climate change.

The speakers deplored India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir and condemned its use of proxies against Pakistan. While acknowledging India’s economic rise, they pointed out unaddressed socio-economic challenges, such as income inequality and suppression of minority religious groups.

Prominent attendees included Amb Jauhar Saleem, President IRS; Dr. Moeed Yusuf, VC BNU; Amb Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Director BCPR at the BNU; Amb Salman Bashir, Former Foreign Secretary, and High Commissioner to India; Amb Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Former Foreign Secretary; Amb. Tehmina Janjua former foreign secretary; Lt Gen Asad Durrani, Former Director General ISI; Amb Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Former Amb to US, India and China; Amb Khalid Mehmood, Chairman BoG Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI); Amb Aziz Ahmad Khan, Former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India; Amb Shafqat Kakakhel, Chairperson BoG SDPI and former UN Assistant Secretary General; Amb Zamir Akram, Advisor Strategic Plans Division; Amb Abdul Basit, Former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India; Mr Qasim Niaz, Former Federal Secretary Commerce; Amb Ali Sarwar Naqvi, Executive Director, Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS); Dr. Riffat Hussain, Former Dean, Professor at NUST; Amb Raza Muhammad, President Institute Policy Research Institute (IPRI); Dr. Maria Sultan, Chairperson, President South Asian Strategic Stability Institute University (SASSI); Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Dean, Professor SPIR, QAU; Mr. Jamal Aziz, Executive Director, Research Society of International Law (RSIL); Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, HOD IR Dept, NDU; Air Commodore Khalid Banuri, Adviser Jinnah Centre for Character and Leadership AHQ; Amb Syed Zulfiqar Gardezi, Former Deputy High Commissioner to India; Amb Babar Amin, Former Deputy High Commissioner to India; and Dr Mujeeb Afzal, Associate Professor at QAU.

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