ISLAMABAD - The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) held its flagship event the Islamabad Conclave-2023 on the theme “Pakistan in a Changing World.” On the first day of the event on Wednesday, the Arms Control & Disarmament Centre hosted Working Session-I themed “Evolving Geopolitical Dynamics, Emerging Technologies and Shifts in Strategic Thought.”
The emerging global landscape is marked by evolving defence partnerships, military build-up, expansion of alliances, collapsing existing arms control regime, nuclear modernisation, militarisation of outer space, cyberspace, artificial intelligence, and biotechnologies,” said General (Retd) Zubair Mahmood Hayat NI (M), former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), in his keynote address. The global equation was being framed between democracy versus dictatorship, good versus bad, moral versus immoral, and superior versus inferior beings. In a classical strategic sense, it was a recipe for disaster, he added.
The great power competition, lack of strategic leadership at the global level, unilateralism, and demolition of human rights has given birth to the liberty to use force for the achievement of ends. In this context, the concepts like de-coupling, de-risking, and building strategic resilience were taking shape.
Earlier in his introductory remarks, Malik Qasim Mustafa, Director Arms Control & Disarmament Centre stated that new global and regional arms races have picked up paces as states were developing lethal and advanced weapons and their delivery means. States were investing in disruptive emerging technologies. States were in a race to develop hypersonic delivery systems. Major Powers were adopting offensive military postures and developing war-fighting doctrines.
Ambassador Tehmina Janjua in her remarks on “Shifting Geopolitical Dynamics: A Global Perspective,” stated that shift from a bipolar to a multi-polar system, the emergence of block politics, delocalisation, trans-boundary challenges like climate change, development of emerging technologies, ever-changing geography of innovation, and a sharp turn to right-wing populism in many countries were the major geo-political shifts. Natural disasters, food insecurity, aggressive state behaviour, spiralling regional conflicts, and arms race were major outcomes of these major geo-political shifts.
Air Cmdre Khalid Banuri, former Director General, Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs (ACDA), Strategic Plans Division (SPD), on “Emerging Trends in Strategic Thought and the Role of Emerging Technologies,” stated that militarisation and consolidation of emerging technologies by major powers was making the global landscape more complex, unpredictable and imbalanced. Within the violent political and economic context, there are greater chances of human error, data distortion, and machine failure that would make future warfare more deadly, intense, blurry, and unpredictable.
Dr Naeem Salik, Executive Director, Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), on “Strategic Stability in South Asia: A Regional Perspective,” said that the strategic stability in South Asia has always been tenuous. There is a structural problem in South Asia due to a huge disparity between the largest and smallest countries in terms of size and resources. Recently, the new Indian construct of Southern Asia, adopted by the West, has changed the dynamics of strategic stability in South Asia by dragging China into an existing Pakistan-India equation.
While highlighting Pakistan’s perspective, Muhammad Kamran Akhtar, Additional Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) stated that there are temptations in India to start a limited war with Pakistan under the nuclear threshold. Pakistan’s proposal of the Strategic Restraint Regime was blatantly rejected by India on the basis of extra-regional security concerns. In the absence of communication and the growing hegemonic designs of India, the militarisation of emerging technologies would undermine strategic stability in the region. Therefore, the development of new confidence-building measures (CBMs) at the regional level to address the new challenges posed by emerging technologies is the need of the hour, he stated.
At the end of the Working Session, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BoG ISSI, presented ISSI Mementos to the esteemed speakers.