Mar 2, 2010

The MEPIC dimensions

The project aims to bring the students and the faculty from across the region to come together on a single platform and work for social, economic and political stability

By Rafay Mahmood

The department of Social Sciences at SZABIST (Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology) has established a study centre for regional peace and development which includes MEPIC (Mid East Pakistan India and China). The goal behind the formation of this society, which will be launched soon, is to cultivate a genial relationship with the neighbouring countries, especially India, and to try to learn from their strengths and weaknesses.

"This is human psyche; an individual is not at peace if he has an antagonistic relationship with his neighbours because, in good and bad times, they are the people he looks towards," says Dr Fouzia Khan, leading psychiatrist and dean of the department of Social Sciences at SZABIST, talking to TNS.

Dr Fouzia is of the opinion that with the launch of the MEPIC study centre, "Pakistani intelligentsia and policy makers will be moved to understand that old thinking needs to be replaced with the reality of present times". And, the reality, she contends, is that the MEPIC countries have much to offer to each other in terms of ideas, human resource, technology and finance. "The MEPIC region aside, even if we concentrate only on building a strong and healthy relationship with India, a lot of our problems will be solved.

"The focus of MEPIC is on issues of environment and renewable energy which are the need of the day."

Quoting the example of India, she says, "[Their] industry has grown tremendously over the past few decades. And, it is because they have taken the right measures."

At the recent International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) conference, held in Dubai, the Indian Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah is said to have raised the water issues faced by Pakistan due to the melting of Himalayan glaciers. "He showed a keen interest in developing mutual cooperation in related matters. It means the [India’s] intent to work in collaboration with Pakistan is there but it doesn’t get noticed," says Masood Ahmed, the project head of MEPIC.

Highlighting the key benefits of the project, he says that if India and Pakistan come on board to discuss renewable energy, then the Hyderabad-Keti Bander Wind corridor that leads up to Rajasthan in India has the capability of producing 50,000MW energy. Eventually, if the project is successful, it will be of great benefit to both the countries.

"Both India and China are far ahead [of Pakistan] in renewable energy technology as well as policy. Pakistan requires these, too. In this connection, the overwhelming response given by the Indian experts at IRENA acted as a huge morale booster for us," he adds.

R K Pachauri, Nobel laureate and a global authority on environment issues who also heads the Energy Resource Centre in India, has reportedly agreed to attend the official launch of MEPIC in Karachi.

"While the whole world is talking about saving lives and resources we are stuck on the borders. The common man in the street harbours no negative thoughts for the people on the other side [of the border]. We have a common language and we share cultural values and heritage. All these things make Pakistan and India most suitable partners in the region. Hence they must solve whatever issues they have between them amicably. ‘Aman ki Asha’ is the perfect platform to start the process."

The MEPIC members aspire to expand the project so that the students and the faculty from across the region can come together on a single platform to work for social, economic and political stability and, in turn, prove to be messengers of peace and prosperity for the whole region.

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