In pursuit of crafting a realistic narrative of Pakistan vis-à-vis regional and global affairs, Margalla Dialogue has assumed an immense importance. The initiative, similar on the lines of other proactive Track-2 patterns, was taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2019. Since then, it has come a long way, and this week’s second edition of the dialogue was themed ‘Breaking Past, Entering Future’. The compendium of interaction as policymakers, diplomats and civil-military leaders gather under the platform remains how to reinvent a course of action in a changing world that is gradually sliding again into bipolarity. The National Security Division, which harbingers Margalla Dialogue under the aegis of Islamabad Policy Research Institute, has done a commendable job in pooling synergies of the best minds and providing the needed space to think out of the box.
The PM, while underscoring the indispensability of original research, was eager to see Pakistan come up with a progressive and realistic synopsis of its own. This is how nations excel and stand out in furthering their national interests. The enigma with Pakistan was that there wasn’t any stress on reorienting a national consensus and bringing to the fore the tangibles of the society in a concrete and foolproof manner. This is only possible if the academicians and intelligentsia come forward to widen the vision, and bombard the taboos with more interpretative studies thoroughly backed with data-centric, scientific and social research. The launch of a portal of over 100 think-tanks and universities early this year was the first step towards kick-starting a renaissance of knowledge-based pro-activism. The ultimate beneficiaries of such qualified research remain the state and policymakers, an aspect that had lacked in our midst.
Margalla Dialogue-2.0 reiterated the shift in Pakistan’s paradigm from geopolitics to geo-economics. The thrust was that national security is directly related to inclusive growth, and disparity in development leads to a sense of neglect. Thus, the fascist mentality in vogue by India is acting as an impediment in realising the denominator of interaction. With a great discourse from top-notch emissaries from the US, UK, Russia and China, as well as military minds, the dialogue buoyed the phenomenon of resetting new benchmarks in realism.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2021.