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Kashmir: The gateway to CPEC for India

Former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Shamshad Ahmad Khan, speaking at a conference in Istanbul said that the most important thing which can help achieve peace and stability in the South Asian region is dialogue. Through dialogue, both countries can resolve differences, especially in a time when China and Pakistan have strengthened their relations under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said that the biggest conflict in the history of the two countries has been the Kashmir issue and this issue can be resolved by providing India access to CPEC through Kashmir.

Stressing that dialogue and trust building were the prerequisites for any headway between India and Pakistan, former foreign secretary of Pakistan Shamshad Ahmad Khan said that Kashmir was the starting point for any partnership between India and Pakistan on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).However, he said that India needed to build trust so that an atmosphere is created to move forward on CPEC and other partnerships in trade and bilateral engagements.

Khan was speaking at one-day international conference on ‘Connectivity: Road to Peace’ in Istanbul.

Khan said that people need to keep this in mind that Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not about constructing roads, bridges or highways. “It is a wrong impression in the minds of people,” he said. “It is a vision, philosophy where people, their cultures and traditions are connected and boundaries are transcended.”

“India needs to assure safety and security to Pakistan that if it joins (CPEC) and uses our territory… India is a big country in the region but trust is a pre-requisite,” he observed. “But that trust would be built when there is any forward movement on regional disputes and are resolved.”

During the conference, the speakers observed that a new global alignment of countries was in the making and Pakistan had to play an important role in it. “Pakistan is door to South Asia, Central and West Asia and South East Asia as CPEC is becoming a reality,” the speakers observed. “Turkey can play a major role in expanding the connectivity as it is door to West and Europe.”

Speaking during the conference, chief advisor to Prime Minister of Turkey, Omer Faruk Korkmaz, maintained that besides trade countries need to focus on social connectivity.

“I see relations at social level important for road to peace,” he said referring to relations between Turkey and Pakistan. “Our trade relations at the low but our (political and social) relations with brother Pakistan are strong and very close.”

He also referred to the crisis in Qatar and Somalia maintaining that Turkey played a role in stabilising the situation. “It was not because of our economic interests; if (Turkey) had not acted, maybe there was no Qatar (today),” he argued. “So I see relations at social and political levels important for peace.”

“Gawador (port) and CPEC is very, very important but as history tells us, most of the problems are because of the economic conflicts,” he observed.

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