The Regional Cooperation for Development with Turkey , Iran and Pakistan as members was established in July 1964. The fifth summit was held at Izmir, Turkey April 21 and 22, 1976 It was attended by His Imperial Majesty the Shahanshah of Iran, President Fahri Koruturk of Turkey and Prime Minister Zulfikar All Bhutto of Pakistan.
The Izmir Conference will provide a valuable opportunity for the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Pakistan to carry forward the exchange of thoughts which has been in progress at different places in the three countries during the last year. With the candor and cordiality natural in such a brotherhood, this exchange is untainted with prejudice. We have been surveying our entire political, strategic and economic environment and reviewing our adjustments to it. While this survey continues, it would betray an incomprehension of international realities to expect any dramatic or spectacular results from the Izmir Conference. Indeed, in the light of recent discussions at the meeting of the three Commerce Ministers in Teheran, the outcome of the Izmir Conference calls for no prophecy.
However, I am not thinking today of tomorrow's Conference only. I am not going to Izmir to propound any thesis which, upon my return, I would expect to serve as an avenue for new interplays in diplomacy. I direct my thoughts in this engagement more as a student of history than in the discharge of my current responsibilities. My thoughts are not confined to the immediate prospects but to the development of the association of the three countries in tune with the historical process. In this time of epoch-making events, when the destinies of nations stand at the crossroads, I cannot conceal my feelings. A compelling urge requires me to share my thoughts with my countrymen.
Iran, Pakistan and Turkey constitute a single civilization. Their cultures are permeated by a common faith. Their historical backgrounds interpenetrate. Their languages bear testimony to shared modes of thought and instinctive responses. Their arts and literatures articulate collective experiences which are cast in the same psychic mould. Their societies are governed by the same sense of values. In reality this civilization has far greater inner cohesion than even the one proudly upheld by the West European community.
The cultural affinity of the three nations is strengthened by certain historical, economic and political phenomena. Unlike the nations of West Europe, no two of us have gone to war against each other in the relevant past. There are no recent memories we have to erase. Nor have our developing economies created the rivalries, or generated the antagonisms, prevalent between industrialized societies. Our concerns for security bear a common stamp as we face similar challenges, actual or potential. Lastly, within the life span of many living today, none of the three countries has been immune from aggression. Turkey was invaded, and in large part occupied, in the aftermath of the First World War and subjected to intolerable pressures in 1974. Iran saw itself brought under foreign control, with its sovereignty denied and its territory split, during and after the Second World War. Pakistan has been dragged into three wars since 1947; the last of them, aided by an international conspiracy, splintered off its eastern part.
All these factors have generated a sense of community on the popular level which is infinitely stronger than the devices hitherto employed to give it a focus and direction. Is it not a moral obligation of the leadership of the three countries to preserve the love and affection felt by their peoples for one another by establishing a living unity which can withstand the vicissitudes of the contemporary age?
How do we stand today in face of fast-changing global and regional patterns?
We have entered an era when a new terminology has emerged supplanting the banal cliches and evocative phrases of the decades of the 'fifties and 'sixties. With full scale nuclear war having ceased to be a viable option, the relations between the two super powers have moved from cold war in the fifties to peaceful coexistence in the sixties to detente in the 'seventies. Detente is a complex phenomenon. As between the two super powers, it is a relationship which conjointly incorporates the three elements of cooperation, competition and conflict, incipient or chronic; each element coming to the surface as appropriate to a given situation. But in the larger field of international affairs, detente cannot be meaningful for the bulk of the world's nations if it only means that competition, in the military field, is controlled and, in the political, restrained. What is far more important is that it should create an ethos in which crises in different parts of the world are not manipulated or exploited for the advantage of a super power or its client and no pressure is brought on lesser states to fall in line. Since this has not yet happened, what we see today is a turbulent world scene, characterized, in varying measure, by equilibrium and disequilibrium, isolation and interdependence, coexistence and confrontation.
Current jargon describes it as a multi-polar world. In the macrocosm, the dispersion of the centers of power may have had a salutary impact on the evolving pattern of international relations. Yet the fact remains that this multi-polarity can potentially stir the hegemonic ambitions of even regional powers which are not subject to the restraints that nuclear parity imposes on the two super powers. The result is that there is a tenuous line, a delicate balance, between stability and chaos. The line can be crossed, and the balance upset, by the military adventure of any assertive regional power which feels the temptation, and obtains the impunity, to launch it against its neighbors. It may make war, impelled by its own ambition or acting as a proxy.
This is the dominant characteristic of the current era. Turmoil and tensions seethe beneath a thin layer of tranquility. There is a flux in place of former fixities. In Europe, the Helsinki Conference may have defined and delimited the region about which there is agreement. But, soon after the conclusion of the Final Act of the Conference, varying interpretations began to be placed on it, each side attaching a greater importance to what it considers its own part of the basket. At any rate, the configuration of a stable order elsewhere is left to be determined by the balance of forces emerging from a possible collision or chance encounter or mutual tolerance or deliberate or unintended parallelism of the two super powers.
There is no settled view of the potentialities of the European situation itself, where crises may occur at unforeseen points. As against the view that the relation between the Soviet Union and East Europe should be “organic” anticipations of dissidence there continue to be made. The possibility of the capture or sharing of power by Communist parties in certain NATO countries has been pronounced to be part of an “irreversible process” and, therefore, “inevitable” by a prominent American analyst, a former Under-Secretary of State. At the same time, the present Secretary of State has said that the development would be unacceptable as it would weaken, if not undermine, the political solidarity and collective defense of the West embodied in NATO. Following such a development, he has added, “the commitment of the American people to maintain the balance of power in Europe, justified though it might be on pragmatic, geopolitical grounds, would lack the moral base on which it has stood for thirty years.” While denying the inevitability of such an occurrence, the U.S. Secretary of State has said that it would mark “an historic turning point in Atlantic relations.” The strains on the alliance in the eastern Mediterranean are also not a negligible fact. Thus, not to speak of other regions. Europe, politically the maturest of all, raises questions to which the older equations provide no answer.
The Middle East continues to be the area of the most perilous tension. An appraisal, to be valid, must take into account not only the slackening, because of an inherent weakness, of the peace efforts but also a multiplicity of other phenomena. These would include the level and quality of the Western response to Egypt's situation, the protracted agony of Lebanon, the dispute over the Sahara, the introduction of a nuclear threat by Israel and the unfortunate schisms in Arab ranks. In referring to the current weakening of Arab unity, I speak with most anxious concern, not in criticism, far less in derision. If Arab unity cannot be held and reasserted even in view of the Israeli menace, the prospects would darken for the entire Third World and for equilibrium and peace. In sum, the Middle East offers portents of a situation to which imaginative approaches need to be made.
East Asia in the post-Vietnam war era is another stage for the operation of forces that can bring about a radical overhaul, sooner or later. Apart from the emergence there of a third Communist power, there are other latencies which cannot be confined to any specific area in that vast region south of China and Japan. The rippling effect can reach the South Asian subcontinent.
Africa has yet to achieve an equipoise. The rearguard action of the despicable racist regimes of southern Africa, the nuclear ambitions of the Pretoria regime, the lack or paucity of resources at the disposal of freedom forces, necessitating external intervention, as in Angola, the regrettable disagreements between African governments in relation to situations of common concern, the inability of the African organization to resolve problems between African states similar to the failure of the Arab organization to settle disputes between Arab governments — all these add up to a situation invalidating the glib diagnoses and prognostications of the past.
If we also survey the Latin American scene where regimes are planted that fail to respond to the people's urge and are, therefore, uprooted, we can see how events are rolling from which no nation or group of nations can escape unless it reevaluates its relations with others and attunes itself to the rhythm of an unprecedented historical situation.
This is not an age which offers black-and-white options. It allows no watertight moralistic commitments. It permits no inflexible responses. It condones no frozen animosities. It repels static relations. Developments occur everyday which illustrate how the more resourceful nations continually readjust their policies in order not to be caught behind by events. Some of these may be of no intrinsic significance but they do illustrate the need felt by states, especially the dynamic ones, to acquire a greater maneuverability. A state does not forsake the friendship of another if it preserves a measure of flexibility regarding a third.
Considering the changing political and strategic realities, our three countries — Iran, Pakistan and Turkey — would need one day, not too long in the future, to reexamine the validity and relevance of the policies we have so far adopted toward our association. Time will not stand still to our advantage. If we miss the opportunity to mobilize and integrate our resources in order to face contemporary challenges, the world will take no note of either our heritage or our aspirations. Our collective capacities will then remain immobilized and we will have failed to translate the abstract into the concrete, poetry into politics and romance into reality. I venture to say that it would be a gigantic loss, perhaps an irreparable one, not only to us, not only to the other nations with whom we are affiliated but also to the forces of peace and progress in the world. In that event, the logical development will be for every one to frame individual responses to a developing world situation and readjust relations, not to one another, but on the wider plane.
We have been associated in CENTO (The Central Treaty Organization) and RCD (Regional Cooperation for Development). To speak metaphorically, ours has been a chariot drawn by three horses and moving on two wheels. On the political, strategic and economic terrain of the last quarter of the twentieth century, neither of the two wheels can move with speed. Each is antediluvian. This is apparent if we examine the intrinsic strength of these organizations.
It is no reflection on any power that CENTO is not, and was not meant to be, an expression of the Iranian-Turkish-Pakistani community. While it no doubt afforded our three governments’ useful opportunities of contact with one another, the very auspices and motive force of its establishment were rooted in a world situation which has undergone a qualitative change. Its ineffectiveness has been manifest. Twice it failed to respond when a regional member suffered an armed attack. As His Imperial Majesty the Shahinshah of Iran very aptly said: “Foreign armies crossed international frontiers while CENTO watched.” One of the principal ailments of this organization has been the inability of the non-regional members to comprehend immediately the significance, intensity and long term effects of regional crises. They tend to interpret the raison d’être of regional security arrangements in a way that may not coincide at a given moment with the perceptions of the regional powers directly affected. This is a psychological fact with which it is futile to quarrel. The distance between the respective evaluations of the regional and the non-regional members cannot be covered by a consultative machinery which is slow and cumbersome and, by its very nature, incapable of speedy response in times of grave emergency.
Apart from this structural defect in CENTO, the larger fact remains that when the strategic environment has radically changed, an institution that fails to absorb such change is inevitably fossilized.
The other organizational link between the three countries is provided by RCD. The point is incontestable that an objective appraisal of RCD would reveal that it has abysmally fallen short of expectations. None of the mutations that have taken place in the international scene during the twelve years since the RCD was formed has had an impact on the purposes and programs of the organization. Instead of being galvanized into action, the RCD remains embedded in an impervious shell. We cannot be inspired by an organization which would list as its foremost achievement its ability to cling to life and the next one its success in publicizing and perpetuating its initials. Responsible observers, when informed of our view of the working of RCD, cannot conceal their amazement at the contrast between its performance and the vast potentialities of which it could be a vehicle. What explains this failure? Surely, we cannot blame a skimpy Secretariat. The question that we have to answer is whether we are unitedly and passionately committed to the Region and to Cooperation and to Development. If we are, do we have the political will to demonstrate that commitment and so qualitatively upgrade the organization that it can stand for a Revolution of Common Determination?
The profound historical changes of our times call for some rethinking on both CENTO and RCD. There are issues that will have to be faced, sooner or later. As early as in 1962, Dr. Henry Kissinger termed SEATO and CENTO as the products of “pactitis.” Since this signal, major world developments have shaken the structure of the two alliances. When some fundamental premises have fallen and new assumptions are taking shape, it would be myopic to visualize a standstill order and to ignore the value of a nimble approach. The dynamism of the world situation, the twists and turns of the detente, the unhingement of NATO due to its encirclement from within, as it were, a host of imponderables and incalculable factors, indeed the full flow of events — all demand a reevaluation in the most salutary sense.
This approach can be adopted without impinging on the firmer relationships founded on bilateral agreements or treaties. The sudden abrogation of these commitments would bring disorder where greater order is needed. While, therefore, they require to be steadfastly upheld, it has to be recognized that an underpinning of durable elements can give them far greater strength. Without a wider scope and sweep, such limited mandates do not evoke the respect from others, which larger associations and higher objectives inspire. For the necessary appeal to their own peoples as well as to the world at large, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey need to evolve an integrated framework of unity. This would be an entirely indigenous system, an organic association which would exert a gravitational pull on other neighboring countries that share the same faith and the same aspirations and regional objectives.
Such an evolution would not be vulnerable to the objections, nor provoke the suspicions, which could have been anticipated in the past. With the exercise of statesmanship and a perception of necessities, the strains and misunderstandings that existed in interstate relations in the near and Middle East region have been replaced by accommodation and cordiality. With this changed equation, the RCD countries are now in a position most propitious for a creative enterprise.
The three countries no longer need a specifically-oriented alliance. Instead of a consultative framework in a limited sphere which is peripheral in the larger context, they need an organization which will be responsive to the multidimensional challenge they face and which will ensure the security, stability and progress of the entire region. It is a region where a ripple of disorder may swell into a tidal wave of instability engulfing a much larger area and cutting across more than one continent. Nothing will more stimulate the evolution of new ideas than a recognition of the need for self-reliance. Equally important is the eradication of habits formed over a long period of dependence on outside powers and sources for the fulfillment of our basic needs. The impositions of embargoes at critical moments and the uncertainty of supplies in times of dire need have yielded us an instructive experience.
Interdependence is the essential phenomenon of our times. Not even the super powers, with their immense resources, escape the compulsion of entering into multilateral security and economic arrangements. The compulsion presses more closely on a region whose defense is indivisible. Moreover, contemporary economics underlies the need for multinational organizations of industry. With a population base of 140 million, the association of the three countries can effect economies of scale and launch high-investment industrial undertakings which would be beyond the financial, managerial or technical capacity of an individual country.
Let us not forget that West Europe aims to become a significant focus of power, with the potentiality of being a balancer of the dominations and rivalries of the super powers. It cannot be said that the countries of West Europe have reached a uniform economic standard. But they have not allowed their disparities or their competition to halt their rapid progress toward economic integration and greater coordination of political policies.
There is another phenomenon of great significance of which we cannot fail to take note. The group of nonaligned countries now numbers as many as 82. Such a vast group naturally includes heterogeneous elements. Despite this heterogeneity, despite their internal conflicts and confrontations, despite the assemblage being spread over far-flung continents, the group does seek to strike a common denominator and establish an identity of purpose on international problems. What is more worthy of note is that lately this conglomeration is seeking to relate its standpoint directly to questions of security with the idea of forging political and military collaboration and extending it to supporting “the forces of independence and freedom in each individual country.” If a group as disparate as the nonaligned, and as antithetical to alignment, can venture to conceive of political and quasi-military alliances against those outside the community of nonaligned states, would it be not tragic that our three countries, so contiguous to one another, so free from internecine quarrels, so moved by the same aspirations, should set our sights low and be reluctant to construct a platform on which they can stand together and act in concert in facing the thrusts and crises of the times?
We are going to Izmir tomorrow not to disturb the constellation. The nonaligned states are to meet in Colombo in August. 1 doubt if they are poised to shake the world either. But it cannot escape notice that this family of the nonaligned came into being, and raised its voice, against military alliances and military adventures. It stood up to tell the world that it was an apostle of peace and its mission was to remove tensions on the international plane. But now some of them are seeking to discuss military assistance to one another as an aligned combination and thinking of going to any part of the world in support of what is termed as the liberation of the oppressed. This they are prepared to consider outside the scope of the United Nations Charter. Neither the highest legal restraints of the Charter to which they are committed nor the territorial limits imposed by the existence of state frontiers would seem to deter them from spreading out as the policemen of the world. The very elements that claimed to establish a sanctuary from operations of the great powers are now seeking to expand their own interventionist role to great power dimensions. I do not assume that discussions along these lines at Colombo will not be abortive nor do I regard it likely that a decision of this character will be adopted. It is obvious enough that such a decision will not only be harmful to the interests of the nonaligned states but make a mockery of the concept of nonalignment and destroy its value. But the very fact that some of the nonaligned states are prepared to go to such an extent is important as it shows what radical responses they are making to what they — rightly or wrongly — perceive as challenges which they should meet.
Our three countries have a complementarily in resources and skills and a commonly held weltanschaung which would be the envy of many other a region. If we, therefore, add a new dimension to the Charter of the RCD in the realization that we cannot separate our destinies and that, in the last analysis, economic collaboration without political and security arrangements is chimerical, we need not fear the reaction to such an association which might have been provoked in the Dullesian era. The systematic consolidation and formalization of our joint will to defend our civilization against all challenges — economic, political, ideological or military is something different from adventitious arrangements which are apt to create suspicions in others. A cooperative arrangement by us would be nonexclusive in spirit. It would fan no rancors. It would reflect the vitality of our societies and be nourished by their energies and enthusiasms. As such, it would be respected by other countries, backed by our friends and sustained by the collective will of our peoples.
My perception of this association and the shape it will acquire, as the foregoing makes clear, is not oriented to military terms. It is focused on the psyche of the contemporary age. If sociopolitical and psychological factors are not in their proper place on the chessboard of international politics, no military acquisitions can provide security against the challenges and threats of our times. In the effort to lend a dimension and depth to our association, in the quest for ways to translate platonic levels of relationship into Aristotelian norms, I am swayed by the belief that military preponderance by itself, without the psychological and political prerequisites, is incapable of attaining an equilibrium that will endure.
Lastly, the abiding thought in my mind is that we in Pakistan have always been moved by the vision of a larger Muslim nationalism in the Iqbalian sense, (Muhammad lqbal, poet and philosopher, put forward in 1930 the concept of an independent Muslim state in South Asia as a solution to the region's constitutional problems). Such a nationalism is not a negation of national identities and state sovereignties but complementary to them. In the modern age, no nation can be sufficient unto itself. The Muslim nations need one another even more, because of the depredations they have suffered during the last two or three centuries and because their salvation and lasting security lie in their unity. Concrete progress can be made toward that unity through an association of three countries which have an undeniable importance. It is the vision of the larger unity that remains the anchor of my thoughts.