The bridge between the West and the Islamic World

Oct 29. The Express Tribune. ISLAMABAD

The bridge between the West and the Islamic WorldThe need to reach an understanding between the major religions of the world, particularly the Christian West and Islam, was emphasised at a conference here on Thursday. Titled “Kazakhstan as a Bridge between the West and the Islamic World: Challenges and Opportunities,” the conference opened at the Marriott Hotel with Akram Zaki, former ambassador and secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the chief guest.

Dr Maqsudul Hasan Nuri, acting president of Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) in his opening remarks highlighted the significance of Kazakhstan as a growing influence in the affairs of Central Asia owing to its political stability and economic development. He said the emerging geopolitical realities provide excellent opportunities to both Pakistan and Kazakhstan for cooperation and collaboration. There was a lot Pakistan could learn from Kazakhstan’s efforts and success in achieving religious and cultural harmony, he added.

In his presidential address, Akram Zaki explained Pakistan’s deep interest in developing closer economic and cultural relations with Central Asian Republics and paid tributes to the leadership of The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. He said Nazarbayev can also influence the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan as chairman of Organisation of the Islamic Conference in 2011 and as the current chairman of The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He also remarked that the Afghan problem was inextricably linked to the solution of the Kashmir issue. Dr Saifur Rehman Malik, assistant professor at NDU, shed light on the various factors which resulted in the recent ethnic turmoil in Kyrgyzstan. He said it was the result of corruption, political mismanagement and economic disparities.

After the ouster of the previous regime, the country was stabilizing, particularly with the financial and political help of Kazakhstan, he added.

Stressing the need to identify the various prisms with which Islam is viewed, Dimash Abdullin of the Institute of World Economy and Political, Almaty, Kazakhstan, said it was important to determine who represented standard Islam in the Muslim world and what was meant by moderate Islam.

Former Ambassador Tariq Osman Hyder presented a very comprehensive paper on the political role of Kazakhstan in promoting peace and security in respect to Afghanistan, Kashmir and Palestine.

The first, second and concluding sessions of the conference were chaired by Dr Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, Dr Ijaz Shafi Gillani and former Ambassador Khalid Mahmood respectively who coordinated the questions from the audience and summed up the ideas presented by the scholars. Wrapping up the discussion of the second session, Dr Ijaz Shafi Gillani said that the expectations aroused by the liberation of the Central Asian States in Pakistan remained frozen where they were in 1991. This is because Pakistan had very little knowledge about the region which had entered a new phase in its 300 years of history. After 20 years, it was still in a state of flux.

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood in the concluding remarks appreciated IPRI for holding the conference while former ambassador Sultan Hayat Khan chaired the concluding session and hoped that relations between Pakistan and Kazakhstan would expand and trade ties increase with cooperation in nuclear technology.