ISSI holds Islamabad Conclave on ‘Pakistan in a Changing World’

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.

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