Dr Masuma Hasan: International Conference on Global Movement of Moderates

In Pursuit of an Enduring and Just Peace

The Global Movement of Moderates was launched in Kuala Lumpur in an international conference on 17-19 January 2012. It was organised by the International Islamic University Alumni Association. A very high profile gathering, it was inaugurated by the Malaysian prime minister, Mohammad Najib Tun Razak who also delivered the opening keynote address. The Global Movement Moderates Foundation was simultaneously launched.

It was said that the Conference was attended by 600 delegates from 36 countries. The delegations were heavily titled towards Southeast Asia. Surprisingly, there were no delegates from the People’s Republic of China, a moderate giant ─ or none that I could spot as the list of delegates was long and had not been circulated. Nor was there representation from the high powered think tanks in India, although some Indian delegates were present. Pakistan was represented by Dr. Fazlur Rahman from the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and by me from The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, Karachi. Our ambassador in Malaysia, Masood Khalid, attended many sessions of the Conference.

The Conference sessions ran back to back and every lunch and dinner was graced by speakers. The President of the Islamic Development Bank, the President of the Republic of Maldives, the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, former prime ministers of Malaysia, the Crown Prince of Perak, all spoke. Dr. Mahatir Mohamad gave a humorous dinner talk on: “Global Finance: Building a New International Architecture” in which he urged that global finance should be de-linked from the US dollar and should go back to the gold standard.

The Conference was a call for an inter-civilisation, inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue. All the speakers upheld democracy and the standard of moderation. And almost all of them drew upon the humane tenets of Islam to describe moderation, decrying fundamentalism and the West’s misguided perception of Islam as an extremist force, especially after the events of 9/11.

There were some academic sessions also which were interesting, like the one on “United States of America and the Muslim World: Charting a Sustainable Future” by W. Scott Thompson, Professor Emeritus of International Politics, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. In this session, I intervened to remind Professor Thompson and the audience that the United States had supported dictatorships all over the world, including the Muslim countries. How could there be an “enduring and just peace”, which was the theme of the Conference, unless the United States was true to its idiom of democracy in its foreign policy imperatives? Although it had been suggested from the floor that the United States’ influence in world politics was waning,  it is still the only country which has a world project. Professor Thompson said he liked my phrase “world project”. And agreed that the United States had not only supported but also created dictatorships. He advised me to continue to “have hope.”

In his address on “The Role of Education in Nurturing Education”, Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore said our mindsets were reflected by the fact that Professor Thompson from the United States was given one and a half hours to speak while the four speakers in his session, all Asians, were allotted only ten minutes each. He urged Asians to start learning from one another instead of turning to the West.

There were two other interesting sessions. In “The Role of Superpowers in the Realignment of Global Power: Between Realpolitik and Soft Power”, Charles Morrison, President East-West Center Hawaii put forward an excellent and concise analysis. Drawing upon my experience of Pakistan in the question and answer session, I pointed out that conventional methods of bringing terrorists to justice through due process had not been successful and a new system needed to be deliberated and evolved to deal with this problem. He universalised the issue by replying that the governments of Mexico and Columbia faced similar problems in their war against the drug cartels.

The finest contribution was made by Sri Lankabhimanya Christopher G. Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice on “Conflict Resolution: The Need for a New Paradigm”. He drew upon his extensive experience of law and justice systems and in its depth, restraint and analysis, it was superb.  I look forward to listening to it again on the Web.

Dr Masuma Hasan is Chairperson of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

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Filed under Global Movement of Moderates, Malaysia, Peace building

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