Robust economic growth and development are generally attributed to economic interconnectivity between far-away states in the process of globalization. However, it is regional cooperation which is the real key to economic swiftness if the mandate is placed on facts and statistics. Global trade counts for only a fraction of total world trade. When two states from different continents enter into a trade, it costs hefty amounts of money on shipping and insurance. There is also the great threat of trade being affected by conflicts, pandemics, tsunamis and relations between various states; the ongoing negative ramifications of the Ukraine-Russia conflict being the prominent precedent. On the contrary, states can generate greater profits with minimum risk when they engage in trade with neighbouring states. Pakistan has to learn this as soon as possible.

A recent survey by a US state department suggested that the state should refrain from cross-Atlantic or cross pacific trade and keep regional trade as its top priority. The survey concluded that the members of the European Community and ASEAN got the most benefit from regional trade, while Africa and South Asia were the worst in terms of regional cooperation and hence economic development. This was also reflected in a recent article published in the Guardian in which lament was shown over Britain’s decision to Brexit. Since Brexit, UK has faced a decline in its economy. It is in an effort to reestablish ties with the EU.

Pakistan has a lesson in all this.

The country has a long history of aggravated ties with neighbours due to which a great amount of its revenue goes in vain on the expenditure of trade with the West accompanied by threats and interventions. The rift is most apparent in its rivalry with India - now the 5th largest economy. The annual trade between Pakistan and India is a mere $ 2 billion as compared to $20 billion in trade between US and Canada every day. Both countries are great markets and have immense mutual economic opportunities. Increased economic activity can also boost friendly relations which will help resolve issues concerning security and water resource distribution. However, power imbalance with India can be disastrous for Pakistan, particularly when Delhi has Modi and RSS extremist regimes in power. Europe backed too much on Russia for its supply of gas and it proved a strategic blunder. Ergo, Islamabad has to play it very calculated with New Delhi.

In addition to this, Iran is another lost opportunity for Pakistan. The state pressured by Saudi Arabia, the US and sectarian factions within has never strengthened its ties with a country that was the first to accept it as an independent state. Iranian Oil can be a great remedy to Pakistan’s fragile energy sector.

MUHMMAD SHARIF OTHO,

Sobhodero.