“Astana Club – a Think Tank to Explore Eurasian Future”: Dr Shahid Qureshi

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Dr Shahid Qureshi at The World Religion Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan on 11 October 2018.

(By Special Correspondent) :-

At the upcoming conference of ‘Astana Club’ in Kazakhstan special correspondent conducted an exclusive interview with Dr Shahid Qureshi who is senior analyst with BBC and Chief Editor of The London Post and The London Post Media Group. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak24 TV (Kazakhstan), Turkish TV, Azerbaijan TV, LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Azerbaijan 2018, Kazakhstan 2015 and 2016 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He wrote his MA thesis on ‘Political Thought of Imam Khomeini’ and visited Tehran University. He is PhD in ‘Political Psychology’ also studied Law at a British University. He also speaks at Cambridge University and visiting professor in Hebe University in China. Following questions were asked to him.

Question 1:

On 12-13 November Astana city will host the Astana Club – a political forum for international experts for in the area of politics and for government figures. The club is similar to the Chatham House. The main theme of the discussion – Towards a Greater Eurasia: how to build a common future?”. How to do you asses the effectiveness of discussion clubs such as the Astana Club and what is their key role?

Dr Shahid Qureshi:

Well upcoming meeting of Astana Club on 12-13 November 2018 is great opportunity for Kazakhstan to learn from international experts, political analysts, financial gurus and exchange views as well develop future strategies for Kazakhstan. As we know there is no alternative to the experience and it is time we learn from other people’s experience.

With regards to comparison of Astana Club with the British think tank Chatham House in London all I can say that: think tanks gets reputation with its research, debates, seminars, conferences and academic experts.  As someone said: “your ignorance is your enemies’ power”. So, the more you learn more you are safe and powerful.

Any effort to develop among other neighbouring countries with same cultural and historical ties is a step in the right direction. Your past is linked closely so it is easy to connect your future and you may call it ‘Central Asian Union’ or follow the EU model of free trade and free movement. It is important to be careful about the words and titles ‘union’ is friendlier and less aggressive.

Any debating and discussion plat form among people is a useful place to learn new things. More academically strong a country is stronger are the foundations and will have advance knowledge of future.

Question 2:

What are the main issues and challenges from your perspective Eurasian region faces? How can we overcome them?

Dr Shahid Qureshi: – This Eurasian region has been a hub of knowledge for not only Central Asia but also South Asia, Indian Sub-continent and middle east. So, you have all the right genes and heritage to build your future. I believe, stronger you are in terms of security threats from outside and inside, greater chances of prosperity and sustainable development.

We have seen Muslim countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and now Iran with resources like gas, oil, gold and minerals have been invaded, bullied and harassed in the name of democracy. Therefore, you need to have strong military forces to defend your resources, people and borders. Don’t get into the trap of meaning less slogans as democracy can not protect you alone. For example, Hamas was democratically elected party in Gaza, Palestine and President Morsi of Egypt now in prison was also elected by people, but western powers and US removed him with a military general with less than 5% votes. I have no doubt about the talent of Egyptians.

  1. What are the key political risks for Eurasia you can highlight?

Dr Shahid Qureshi:

There is no such thing as political as it is always financial in the bottom of every debate, argument, war and peace. It all boils down to the how much resources you have and how you protect them. Modern military and psychological warfare are hybrid where banks, media, academics, psychologists, military forces work in harmony, supporting and complimenting each other. This is 4th and 5th Generation Warfare in which war criminals, invaders and occupiers, killers of men, women and children portray themselves as Saviours and great democrats ‘good guys’ and media project and present the victims of their crimes as ‘Perpetrators’ or ‘bad guys’. For example, Greece, Portugal and Spain are democracies and members of the European Union but owes highest debt to the IMF (International Monitory Fund) and yet their experts blame developing countries that bad democracy is reason for bad economy.

Astana is a city of Banks and that is worrying for some experts as you need to develop a banking system that is corruption free, money laundering free, transparent and closely monitored. Otherwise your wealth would be drained out of the regions and you will not even know about it.

  1. In which ways is it possible to reach an effective dialogue between countries of Eurasia?

Dr Shahid Qureshi:

You have strong historical bonds of language, culture and religion and that is the best way to move forward. There is not harm in using all the above options. Cultural dialogue, educational exchange programs, academic debates and complimenting each other.

  1. How do you personally see future scenarios of the Big Eurasia, One Belt One Road Initiative, Eurasian Economic Union? Also, how do you assess modern transformation of Central Asia?

Dr Shahid Qureshi:

I think you have great potential to grow a stronger union with the cooperation of your physical bordering neighbours like China, Russia and physical and intellectually close neighbours Central Asian States, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Eurasian Union or Central Asian States can have direct access to Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) via China and Afghanistan by joining CPEC project (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) a great by pass of human history. CPEC can give direct and quick access to Gulf States, UAE and Middle East and Europe. The rail and road links are crucial for trade and people to people contacts.

Thank you very much Dr Shahid Qureshi

Views expressed are not of The London Post

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