Islamabad, 8 August, 2023 (GNP): Speaking at the 7th session of the OIP titled as “Indonesia and ASEAN” at the Bahria University, Islamabad, Prof. Dinna Prapto Raharja, a senior public policy advisor and Associate Professor in international relations at Bina Nusantara University, Indonesia, discussed the history and evolution of ASEAN and highlighted the objectives and scope of ASEAN partnerships that it maintains and promotes through various frameworks.
“The Bangkok Declaration of 1967 focuses on economic growth, social progress, cultural development, and regional peace through equality and partnership”, Dr. Dinna informed the participants.
While sharing the economic profile of the member states, she mentioned that ASEAN remains a major recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the developing world. The speaker said that ASEAN is the fastest-growing regional bloc globally, with members ranging from Island nation and trade hub of Singapore with population of 5.4 million to the World’s largest archipelagic and a fast-growing trillion-dollar economy of Indonesia with 273 million population.
Discussing ASEAN-Pakistan relations, the speaker said that Pakistan has ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Status since 1993, focusing on commerce, industry, investment, environment, science and technology, narcotics control, tourism, and human resource development. In 2004, Pakistan ratified the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and became the 24th participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum, in 2005, Pakistan signed the Terrorism Declaration and conducted a Joint Feasibility Study for an ASEAN-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement, but the study was halted in 2011.
The guest speaker from Indonesia explained that ASEAN’s approach to partnerships is diverse, dynamic, and variable, with interests remaining central in engagements without fixed mechanisms for cooperation and problem resolution. She briefed the participants on ASEAN’s policy and decision-making processes, stating that “as an inter-governmental organization founded on equality it prioritizes consensus building above majority vote”.
She stated that Indonesia has a history of significant contribution to ASEAN and is recognized for its inspirational ideas to build consensus to move forward. She said that Indonesia developed the concept of an ASEAN Community not only to achieve economic growth but also to close gaps in economic development among the member countries. Similarly, the ASEAN Summit was also Indonesia’s idea to engage top leadership at the highest-level regional meetings, she pointed out.
Indonesia supports ASEAN engagement with major powers and encourages the members to bring their disagreements to the table, such as the COC Dialogue on the South China Sea issue at the ARF forum, the guest speaker highlighted.
“Indonesia has always tried to nature the habit of dialogue among the member countries and encourage them to engage with the major powers with confidence” the speaker explained.
However, she said that ASEAN was not perfect and amid rising tension between China and US the big question was that how to maintain the peace and economic stability and build trust among the major powers so that there is no conflict in the region, the speaker shared her insight with the participants.
Expressing her view the speaker said the question becomes even trickier especially when the Chinese economy was rising and the US economy declining. On the other hand, however, the US has been able to pursue other countries to support its stance in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, leveraging its dollar, technology and defense industry, Dr. Dinna noted.
In this scenario it is a key strategic question who are you with and what you should do to save your country in the event of the open conflict between US and China, she observed.
“This question is haunting not only the ASEAN but the entire world because the world was more connected than before and taking side is not without political and economic implications” She emphasized.
She said that Indonesia being an archipelagic country was very much concerned about its sea lines of communication such as the Strait of Malaka could be misused for transporting weapons.
Dr. Dinna opined that countries should reduce their over dependence on certain countries to avoid choosing sides.
The Online Internship Programs 2023 is a collaboration project between the Indonesian Embassy and Bahria University, Islamabad, to discuss contemporary issues in Indonesia that will be organized for 6 weeks. All experts who join the program to share their thoughts and observations come from various universities and think tanks in Indonesia