South Asia has a very important role to play for the future of the planet. It remains the pivot, an opening that offers a threshold for a new beginning.

Pakistan being an important member of South Asia stands proud at the helm of the Himalayas, underneath the Greater Himalayas, awaiting to play its role to completely transform the region. Pakistan has so much to contribute and prove its existence beneficial for the South Asian populace, which might have a long-lasting impact for humanity.

For that to be initiated, Pakistan’s relations with the neighbourhood need to be bolstered. In an ideal scenario, both China and India should join hands with Pakistan to make ours the most prosperous region in the world. The One Belt One Road can be so much more than what it is, and aims to be.

Given the ground realities right now, Pakistan should begin this journey by looking to increase its exports to China. That is one aspect that will improve the state’s economy, by addressing the trade balance with our ‘all-weather friend’.

Among the lesser explored trade routes is the pathway that leads to Iran. Pakistan can benefit so much by increasing its exports to Iran, which came to our rescue by exporting tomatoes amidst the recent crisis. The sanctions are a stumbling block, but if trade pacts with Iran can be formulated, both countries are set to benefit and address their respective economic crises.

Of course in both the above mentioned cases, and pretty much most developments in the region, Gwadar carries immense significance. The city is going to become the industrial hub for Pakistan and we might as well make the most of it by encouraging others to add their bits so that South Asia can collectively prosper.

While internet knows no bounds – regional or otherwise – a collective South Asian uplift can also be facilitated through an e-commerce revolution. An increasing number of Pakistanis, from a growing array of areas, are becoming versed in the internet, and hence business models are taking the online route for development. Even old women from rural areas are now running businesses online. The overlapping regional interests can be taken to the next level through the internet.

Just imagine a collective market in South Asia, like the European Union and how that can lift the poor from all the nations in the region. The employment opportunities would soar, significantly improving the unemployment figures in South Asia.

Let us take that initiative and begin undoing the wrongs of our past, throwing the gauntlet to our neighbours to reciprocate and work for the collective good. Unity has so much positive to offer to everyone. The march should be forward and not backward.