Eurasian Judicial cooperation: Judicial Reform Process in Pakistan is a remedy for Regional Integration

Photo - Wikipedia
Photo - Wikipedia

The rising geopolitical importance of Pakistan in Eurasia has turned Pakistan into the Zipper of Pan-Eurasian Integration as it is connecting the massive economies of the Eurasian Union, Iran,South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC),Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), and Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS). Pakistan's prime geography is the only hope of peaceful integration into the multipolar Eurasian framework being constructed by the Eurasian superpowers; China and Russia.

The geo-strategic location of Pakistan considers a pivot to enhanced commercial and state outreach in an increasingly competitive Pan-Asian economic and energy market as it has a great contribution to the transformation of power into Asia. New rising powers, China and Russia teamed-up with Pakistan to intermingle the "Greater Eurasia" and the "Silk Road" geo-economics together by establishing the poly-centric (multipolar) partnership for creating the center of the new "wide integration contour" in Pakistan.  

Put simply, the construction of Eurasian Energy grids along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can be exemplified by this contour. Pakistan's Gwadar port plays the victorious role in the intra-continental trade war between land and sea powers as it provides access to landlocked Central Asia in reaching Africa. In fact, the "Future of Asia" comes true with Pakistan's positive participation of inviting the multipolar world to gain maximum benefits from the China-Pakistan economic corridor and transit trade routes for peaceful regional integration. For this purpose, Pakistan has offered its seaports for trade to SCO countries.  

Pakistan is situated in South Asia covering the west part of Indian-Subcontinent, which gives its location great significance. Pakistan's total land border is 6,774 kilometers long shared with four countries. Pakistan borders India to the east, Afghanistan, and Iran in the west and China is situated to its northeast. While surrounded by land from three sides, the Arabian Sea lies in the south.

 Recently during the general election of 2018, one of Pakistan's largest political party, Pakistan People Party (PPP) has included "Greater Eurasia" strategy in its manifesto as they say, "we believe it is imperative to take increased advantage of a renewed Russian outreach to Pakistan. The North-South gas pipeline is the first major instance of Russian investment in Pakistan after decades of estrangement. We will encourage discussions with Moscow and Beijing to locate and identify new nodes of convergence that can possibly help bring CPEC activities in line with Russia's own vision for a Eurasian Economic Union."

Pakistan people's Party manifesto further states, "We will aggressively look to match the exchange of Russian military hardware and defense and technology cooperation with greater soft-power mobilization and the all-important issue of skills transfer, as we search for new policy-sphere partnerships with Moscow. We will also ensure that Pakistan retrofits its own outreach to the Central Asian Republics (CARs) to harness the potential for closer Pak-Russo cooperation. Pakistan's accession as a full member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an example of a platform we can leverage, as we pivot ourselves to enhanced commercial and state outreach in an increasingly competitive Pan-Asian arms and energy market."

This political manifesto of Pakistan's mainstream political party hinted that Pakistan is introducing the new set-up of international relations. Once Pakistan was the allied ally of the United States, but now it is fostering closer to alternative world powers Russia and China. This regional shift has strengthened Pakistan's role in influencing and shaping the dynamics of the region. It is due to this strategic backdrop that the neighboring countries find themselves compelled to rely on Pakistan for their strategic interests.

The current geopolitical systematic changes persuaded Pakistan to take bold decisions in its larger national and international interests. In fact, Pakistan seems to emerge a country with power, the will and the intellectual and moral imputes to shape regional order in accordance with its own values in this 21st century as it has joined China's Silk Road and Russia's Greater Eurasian Strategy, together. The previous history witnessed that the American dual game crafted "please-punch" approach toward Pakistan which turned Pakistan into a vassal state of the United States but now under the influence of the multipolar world, Pakistan has introduced a modern approach to international relations.

 Today, Russia and China both rely on Pakistan to solve regional hybrid conflicts dealt by the USA. Spreading militancy/separation movements from Afghanistan to China, Central Asia, and Pakistan has become the main target of the American warmongers as they attempted to install Islamic State terrorism in the heart of Asia. NATO presence in Afghanistan is accelerating hostilities against region. In fact, they want to disturb regional integration conceded by Russia and China as trade war has become visible between world superpowers.     

Openly speaking, liberal world order hegemony has been ended now with the emergence of the multipolar world order as the new alternative set-up of multilateral institutions was welcomed by the world nations. The emerging world biggest economies; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have formulated an economic alliance known as BRICS against western imperial power centers. This BRICS emerged more powerful than G7. While BRICS development bank also appeared as an alternative of World Bank and IMF. Western media pundits also presented China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a rival against Japan-led Asian Development Bank (ADB). Beside this, Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (CSTO) were also constituted to keep Atlantic Council's NATO away from the region.

In fact, this new alternative polycentric partnership against liberal international order based on consultation, cooperation, and collective action, especially through international and regional organizations. World nations are shaping the future of the new world through extending and strengthening multilateral world institutions. In this new era of peril and opportunity, countries outside the west are joining the alternative systemized new set-up of international relations which reflects the multipolar transition around the globe.

World nations have already documented this trend to run international affairs for finding joint solutions to global problems because the Western old logic to solve modern and hybrid conflicts has been inadequately failed to end up the ongoing chaos and conflicts. In fact, the chaos and regional conflicts were accelerated outside the west for achieving the geopolitical objectives. As a result, the world was exhausted by the series of the endless wars and unsolved disputes. This is the main reason behind the death of Atlantic Council-led liberal order.

The death of liberal order swayed world nations to look beyond the Atlantic Council. Therefore European countries are now attempting to save their national heritage and values which were under threat of liberal values.  A clash can be easily seen in Eastern Europe over European Union judicial reforms. The polish people declared EU-purposed reforms as a disaster for their countries. Although, reforms in the judicial procedures to simplify the regional trade mechanism were thought to be necessary as it would bring more regional cooperation and unification, but the European Union nurturing hybrid conflicts and on the same time bringing about judicial reforms is quite contrary to the basic idea and a hurdle itself. Truly speaking, the liberal order has not only destroyed nationalism but it has also disheartened culture, values, and norms of the western countries. 

West is falling apart but East is rising in this 21st century with the emergence of post-west world order alias aka multipolar world order. Western countries leaving European Union and NATO while eastern countries are joining China's Silk Road and Russia's Eurasian Union. Sino-Russian led SCO is gaining popularity outside the west. Recently, Russia has invited judicial officers and Chief justices of multipolar world nations at the 25th anniversary of the adaptation of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, International Conference, and VIII St. Petersburg International Legal Forum (STILF). The main agenda of this international legal forum was to introduce Eurasian judicial reforms intended to remove trade and customs hurdles among world nations. 

First time, the Chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Mian Saqib Nisar visited Russia and participated in St. Petersburg International Legal Forum where not only Eurasian Economic Union member states participated but more than 120 delegations of world nations were present there to formulate the common principles of international justice and international integration process related to issues of customs and tariff regulations, anti-dumping, classification of goods for customs purposes, indirect taxation, the responsibility of the customs declarant, monitoring of implementation of international treaties by the Eurasian Economic Commission, the legality of its decisions.

It is not a coincidence that after Russia, CJP visited China and participated in the judicial summit of SCO in China. In fact, both world leaders China and Russia invited law officers and judges of multipolar world nations to intensify the integration process. During the SCO summit, all supreme courts of the organization agreed to boost regional trade by solving disputes and to strengthen cooperation against cross-border crimes, digital court development and legal affairs in international trade.

The communication and cooperation between supreme courts of SCO member countries are conducive to maintaining long-lasting peace, security, and stability in the region, as well as strengthening mutual trust and neighbor friendship among the member states, according to the joint statement issued by SCO. 

As it is mentioned above that Pakistan is shaping regional dynamics by taking the advantages of its unique geography. Fortunately, Pakistan's judiciary under the leadership of Chairman Law and Justice Commission and Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar took a wise decision to introduce judicial reforms, especially to solve the disputes about regional, economic integration and Effective Dispute Resolution Mechanism in the Context of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

The following recommendations of Islamabad declaration 2018 were approved by the Pakistan Law and Justice Commission under the chairmanship of CJP Saqib Nisar, which are follows:

 1. Introduction of Multimodal Transport Law and Infrastructure in the region to increase the significance of Pakistan's position as a Transit State in the trade between Central Asian Republics. Specifically, the modernization of the law on Carriage of Goods by Sea.

 2. Creation of a Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency at a regional level akin to the one established under World Bank (MIGA).

 3. Establishment of a Multi-tier Regional Arbitration Centre to resolve any disputes that may arise. The first tier can be the appointment of Dispute Resolution Advisors, as a method to avoid disputes, the second tier could be; constituting a dispute review board and the third tier would involve the appointment of a dispute adjudication board. Such a mechanism should exist at a district and provincial level to make dispute resolution accessible.

 4. Amendment of Article 8 of the Agreement between Government of Peoples Republic of China and Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Tax on Income, to make the distribution of tax revenues between both countries more equitable and to explicitly allocate the fiscal rights of both signatories to the agreement. 

5. Higher Environmental Standards to be applied to all CPEC projects which based on a harmonized set of policies agreed between the two countries. There should also be cooperation and exchange of skills between all provincial environmental protection agencies.

 6. The Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms should make their documents and agreements, made under CPEC, more accessible to the public at large.  

Despite these recommendations of regional integration, Chief Justice of Pakistan stressed on the Improvement of Mechanism of International Judicial Cooperation between the member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as he said, "Pakistan has recently joined this Organization and is keen to play a productive role as a member of SCO. We are also excited at the thought of the many opportunities this forum will open up to Pakistan and its judiciary to learn from the experiences and wisdom of other member States. As trade between member States of the SCO increases and as travel increases, there is an increased need for international judicial cooperation. None of us wants our countries to be safe havens for terrorists, for terrorist financing, for white collar crimes, or for cyber-crimes. These are just a few of the crimes and offenses that do not respect territorial borders. The reach of such offenses and offenders is not neatly confined to one country. And in this world, there is ever increasing the need for cooperation. Coordinated policies between regional judicial systems will allow all of us to benefit from a regime in which we are all more secure. And I do not need to spell out that without security there can be no economic development and prosperity."

Pakistan is the only country in the region that did not only welcome regional cooperation but now it introduced judicial reforms process which has become the remedy for international and regional integration. This judicial process can be exemplified by Pakistan's total regional shift with its own regional order as it is interesting to share its own values as the world has exhausted by liberal world order. Interestingly, rising world superpowers, Russia and China were also taken aboard by Pakistan as it is zipping up all multipolar institutions and regional alliance together by taking the advantages of its geopolitical significance. Therefore Pakistan is turning towards the new regional integration contour of BRICS, SCO, BISMATEC, SAARC, and ASEAN.