In pursuing the development of a realistic narrative of Pakistan vis-Ã -vis regional and global affairs, Margalla Dialogue has assumed immense importance. The initiative, similar to other proactive Track 2 models, was taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2019. Since then it has come a long way, and the second edition of this week’s dialogue was themed ‘Breaking Past, Entering Futur’. The collection of interactions as policymakers, diplomats and civil-military leaders come together under the platform remains how to reinvent a course of action in a changing world that is gradually sliding back to bipolarity. The National Security Division, which foreshadows Margalla Dialogue under the umbrella of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute, has done a commendable job in pooling synergies of the best minds and providing the space to think outside the box.
The Prime Minister, while stressing the indispensable nature of original research, was eager to see Pakistan come up with its own progressive and realistic synopsis. This is how nations excel and stand out in the defense of their national interests. The conundrum with Pakistan was that there was no pressure to reorient a national consensus and highlight the tangible elements of society in a concrete and infallible way. This is only possible if academics and intelligentsia come forward to broaden the vision and bombard taboos with more interpretative studies carefully underpinned by data-driven, scientific and social research. The launch of a portal of over 100 think tanks and universities earlier this year was the first step towards launching a renaissance of knowledge-based pro-activism. The ultimate beneficiaries of such skilled research remain the state and policy makers, something that was missing among us.
Margalla Dialogue-2.0 reiterated the Pakistani paradigm shift from geopolitics to geo-economics. The central idea was that national security is directly linked to inclusive growth and that disparities in development lead to a feeling of neglect. Thus, the fascist mentality in vogue in India hinders the awareness of the denominator of the interaction. With excellent speeches from leading emissaries from the US, UK, Russia and China, as well as military minds, the dialogue supported the phenomenon of resetting new benchmarks for realism.
Posted in The Express Tribune, December 16e, 2021.