D-8: Call for Ac­tion

Enterprise - - Editor’s Desk -

It was quite in­con­gru­ous that while on the very day when lead­ers of the group of eight de­vel­op­ing Mus­lim coun­tries, the D- 8, were con­verg­ing in Is­lam­abad to dis­cuss trade and forge closer eco­nomic ties, the Tal­iban were killing peo­ple in a se­ries of bomb­ings across the coun­try. With Pak­istan’s turn as the host, the sum­mit took place on the 15th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the group in 1997, and was at­tended by Iran, Egypt, Turkey, In­done­sia, Malaysia, Nigeria and Bangladesh. Need­less to say that it was quite coura­geous on the part of the Pak­istan government to in­vite so many top lead­ers to Is­lam­abad at such a crit­i­cal time - and equally brave of the lead­ers to at­tend.

Just as such re­gional moots go, there was the cus­tom­ary joint dec­la­ra­tion at the end of the sum­mit that called for co­op­er­a­tion among the mem­ber states. The dec­la­ra­tion termed the adop­tion of a Global Vi­sion by the con­fer­ence as a turn­ing point for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, stat­ing that col­lec­tively it would take the mem­ber na­tions on a new path of co­op­er­a­tion from Is­tan­bul to Is­lam­abad. It is worth con­sid­er­ing that while this is rel­a­tively a small group in terms of mem­ber coun­tries, it rep­re­sents a pop­u­la­tion of one bil­lion and a com­bined mar­ket value of $ 1 tril­lion. It is also quite di­verse in the con­text of eco­nomic progress and geopo­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. Within them, the eight coun­tries cut across a wide swathe from East to West Asia. There are the per­form­ing economies of In­done­sia and Malaysia on the one end and Turkey on the other. Be­tween them fall Bangladesh, Pak­istan, Iran, Egypt and Nigeria – all na­tions that are grap­pling with their eco­nomic and so­cial is­sues and with in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal tur­moil in vary­ing de­grees. There­fore, while the stated ob­jec­tives of the group, which has an ori­en­ta­tion of eco­nomic devel­op­ment, may be aimed at fur­ther pro­mot­ing eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween mem­ber na­tions, this does not hap­pen in real terms. Th­ese na­tions are also mem­bers of or have observer sta­tus in other re­gional groups such as the African Union, ASEAN, SAARC, SCO, etc. and their over­lap­ping syn­er­gies can, in fact, prove to be counter- pro­duc­tive.

Coun­tries with emerg­ing economies in Asia have, by and large, been co­op­er­at­ing with their part­ner coun­tries within and out­side the re­gion pri­mar­ily through shar­ing of devel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, co­op­er­a­tion projects, ca­pac­ity build­ing, tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and pref­er­en­tial mar­ket ac­cess on uni­lat­eral and re­cip­ro­cal ba­sis. Such co­op­er­a­tion is also com­ple­mented by tech­nol­ogy trans­fer and in­vest­ment by en­ter­prises based in devel­oped coun­tries that have be­come im­por­tant sources of in­flows of in­vest­ment.

All the more rea­son, there­fore, that the pledge made by the lead­ers of D- 8 at their sum­mit in Is­lam­abad to work in sol­i­dar­ity to con­front com­mon chal­lenges, in­clud­ing food se­cu­rity, mit­i­gat­ing the im­pact of na­tional dis­as­ters and coun­ter­ing all forms of ex­trem­ism, must not be rel­e­gated to a fil­ing cab­i­net at the D- 8 sec­re­tariat in Is­tan­bul. It must be re­garded as a fresh char­ter for re­gional co­op­er­a­tion with a fo­cus on trade, peace and se­cu­rity, sup­ported by on- ground so­lu­tions that are not the stuff of con­fer­ences and re­search pa­pers but are ac­tu­ally seen to be in ac­tion.

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