General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan, said while Pakistan’s geopolitical location creates great opportunities, it also presents huge challenges for the country.

In a lecture at Emirates Policy Center (EPC) entitled “Regional Security Environment”, General Hayat pointed out that Pakistan has long borders with several countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, India and China, as well as, neighboring countries with huge populations of more than 1 billion such as India and China.

The Pakistani general said that his country faces major challenges such as the lack of stability and security in Afghanistan due to the ongoing war in that country for the past 40 years, which is considered one of the longest wars in the world. This war undermines stability in south and central Asia regions and negatively impacts the security of Pakistan, he added.

He pointed out that his country hosts more than 3 million Afghani refugees who represent 10% of Afghani population while schools provide education to about 2 million Afghani students with a direct cost of $123 billion.

General Hayat said that it is in Pakistan interest to reach peace in Afghanistan, pointing out that the solution for the Afghani crisis is political, not military.

He added that his country has launched the largest counter-terrorism campaign in the world with the participation of about 200,000 soldiers. General Hayat pointed out that his country is doing its best to control the borders with Afghanistan. He said that these borders has 700 military posts, which represent 8 times the military posts on the Afghani side of the borders. The General added that his country has started raising a fence along these borders to deny militants free movement between the two countries.

The General also touched on the relationships between the US and Pakistan and pointed out that the bilateral relations between the two nations date back more than seventy years. He added that Pakistan enjoys a great strategic significance in South Asia and has an indispensable role in ending the war in Afghanistan.

The General also pointed out that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will generate great opportunities, not only for Pakistan, but also for the region as a whole. He argued that such projects establish a new approach for relations among nations based on promoting stability through providing mutual benefits and economic prosperity for the people.

As for the relationships between his country and the GCC, the General said that the two sides have enjoyed intimate and longstanding historical ties as the region lies in Pakistan’s natural area of strategic interests. He also stressed the social, cultural, and religious traits both sides share not to mention their close political, military and security bonds.

Dr. Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, EPC’s president, said during lecturer introduction that the Arabian Gulf and South Asia regions are geopolitically connected. She added that –historically- the security of the Arabian Gulf has always been part of the Indian Ocean security; therefore, Arab Gulf countries have sought since day one to establish close ties with South Asian nations, notably Pakistan, which enjoys common historical, religious and cultural denominators with GCC nations.

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