By Ansar Mahmood Bhatti
ISLAMABAD, DEC 27 (DNA) – The joint declaration of recently held Speakers’ Conference in Islamabad got delayed because of objection of few member states that did not want mention of Kashmir in the joint declaration. Nevertheless the timely intervention of Speakers of Russia and Pakistan paved the way for the timely adoption of the Declaration. The incorporation of Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue in the joint declaration thus has been termed as a major foreign policy success of Pakistan.
The participating countries later on appreciated the role of Russia also, which took extra pains to get the issue settled.
Various Kashmiri organizations have also lauded Pakistan for ensuring mention of Kashmir in the joint Declaration and hoped Pakistan even in the coming days would continue to extend moral support to struggling people of Kashmir.
According to sources privy to the conference, the Iranian and Afghan delegates initially opposed mention of Kashmir in the Declaration however with the intervention of Russia and Pakistan they finally agreed and thus the Declaration was unanimously adopted.
The participating countries also recognized the understanding of the issue by Iran and Afghanistan and lauded their role in making the conference a complete success. Iran then accepted to be the host for the 2nd Speakers Conference to be held next year.
It may be mentioned here that the 1st Speakers’ conference was held as part of an initiative of Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China to make an alliance called GREF with a view to intensifying and strengthening economic cooperation between these countries. As per plan, Turkey and Afghanistan may also join this bloc at a later stage.
Pakistan and China together with Iran and Russia have conceived a joint strategy to effectively counter particularly the Indian moves against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for which Golden Ring Economic Forum (GREF) has been established.
The bloc that would mainly focus on economic challenges being faced by the member countries, is likely to reduce especially Pakistani’s economic dependence on other countries, including the United States of America.
The group of dedicated businessmen and scholars who have organized themselves into GREF, beginning with a realization of the importance of international linkages as the key starting point, have commenced their contacts with counterpart groups and institutions in partner countries identified, with the objective of establishing a grouping for the furtherance of the strategic economic interests of all countries concerned.
According to sources, GREF is a policy think tank formed by a group of leading businessmen, ex-civil and military officials and scholars to work on national strategic economic issues. It’s main direction of activities is to provide advisory and consultative services to governments for making policy framework on related issues and doing lobbying for Pakistan in member countries.
Initially, GREF’S main focus will be on China, Iran and Russia. In future, Afghanistan, Turkey and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries may be added.=DNA