Pakistan’s associations with ASEAN an evident phenomenon


The momentum of regionalism is indeed the most distinctive trend of this century. The same trend is promulgated in the Asian pacific. Pakistan being part of this locality gives importance to its relations with the regional countries and organizations including ASEAN. Fortunately Pakistan is not only the dialogue partner of ASEAN but also enjoys its position at multinational fora.  Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Post- Ministerial Conference and South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) are few of the forums for bringing the two entities close to each other.

Pakistan’s relations with Southeast Asian countries started back in 1954 when Pakistan became the founding member of SEATO. This treaty organization was backed by America in order to avert the Asian communism and china’s influence in the region of Southeast Asia. The organization was later dissolved unlamented in the year 1977. Being part of SEATO didn’t allow Pakistan to further fasten its efforts for genuine and long-lasting relations with ASEAN, so the beginning wasn’t very auspicious. In 1990’s not only Pakistan but also India started focusing on Southeast Asian countries. This factor also pushed Pakistan to take a leap ahead. The first and the foremost vital breakthrough in Pakistan ASEAN relation could be seen when the status of Sectorial Dialogue partner was awarded to Pakistan by ASEAN in 1993. These dialogues cover a vast area of interest which includes, trade, industry, investment, environment, science and technology, drugs, narcotics, tourism , culture, education, transport, energy, communications, intelligence and information sharing, information technology , agricultural research and human resource development. There are several compelling factors which can trigger further opportunities of cooperation between two.

In 1997 at the occasion of inaugural meeting of Pakistan ASEAN Sectorial Dialogue Relations in Islamabad, ASEAN-Pakistan Business Council (APBC) was formed and in this regard an agreement was signed between ASEAN Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Pakistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The involvement of private sector for economic growth and cooperation remained the aim behind this development. It was also decided that a joint working group will be established to facilitate trade activities whereas joint ventures in the fields of textile, technology, palm oil, electronics, and automobile industry were also the prime interests during the session. Apart from the joint ventures and relations with ASEAN, Pakistan also has friendly relations with many of the member countries in individual capacity. The formation of Singapore Pakistan Development Forum (SPADE) is one of the examples of such cooperation.

In 2004 Pakistan assented to the treaty of amity and cooperation and also got ingress in the ASEAN regional forum. This was another milestone in establishing more close relations. In 2005 Pakistan and ASEAN signed a joint declaration to combat the menace of terrorism. ASEAN total trade with Pakistan amounted 6.3 billion US dollars back in 2012, whereas the exports to Pakistan recorded as 5.3 billion and foreign direct investment to Pakistan as 13 million in the same year.  When it comes to human resource development Pakistan offers 10 fully funded scholarships to students from ASEAN’s member countries in the field of engineering, linguistics, banking, IT and medicines.

The historical ties of Pakistan with East Asia are very much evident. Pakistan has further intentions to strengthen these ties along with maintaining cooperation with China which is indeed a challenge and an opportunity as well. China Pakistan economic corridor has come up as a blessing for the region as well as for the distant nations. several developments could be seen to enhance relations whether it’s the creation of ASEAN-Pakistan Joint Sectoral Cooperation Committee (APJSCC), formation of ASEAN-Islamabad Committee (AIC), ASEAN-Pakistan Joint Business Council (APJBC) or Pakistan’s entrance in ASEAN-Regional Forum. Pakistan officially embraced Vision East Asia to emulate the specimen of East Asian economies as well as to unite itself strategically to regionalism within East Asia. The Vision East Asia incorporated both South East Asia and North East Asia.


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