The 3rd Round of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Bilateral Dialogue was held in Islamabad on December 6-7 under the umbrella theme of “A Vision of Peace: Exploring Avenues and Methodologies to bridge the Trust Deficit”.
The dialogue is an initiative of the Regional Peace Institute (RPI) which was held in collaboration with the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS). The activity in Pakistan is supported by the Hanns Siedel Foundation (HSF). AISS supports the activity in Afghanistan.
An eleven-member Afghan delegation comprising members of parliament, diplomats, journalists, professionals and rights activists visited Pakistan to participate in the dialogue.
Pakistani delegation reflected a variety of stakeholders from divergent backgrounds.
Two working sessions were held on December 6 discussing the themes of “Political and Security Dynamics: Geo-Strategic Influences Impacting Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations” and “Expanding Economic Linkages and Transit Corridors: Inherent Dividends for Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
An open session was held on December 7 to discuss “Soft Power: Expansion of Social, Cultural and Media Connectivity to Win Hearts and Minds”.
The discussions were marked by a high level of candidness, frankness and forthrightness. Virtually every aspect of the Afghanistan-Pakistan relations came under the scanner. The overwhelming and mutually-shared sentiment was that we needed to move forward in forging peace in the two countries and among the two countries.
It was agreed that the bilateral dialogue between the two countries should be properly structured to increase cooperation and collaboration in the political, economic and the soft power domains as also to enhance mutual understanding.
It was also agreed that the following Working Groups which were constituted during the first moot held in June in Islamabad should be fully operationalised to formulate recommendations in their respective areas:
- Trade and Economic Cooperation Working Group
- Socio-Cultural Cooperation Working Group
- Security and Counter-Terrorism Measures Working Group
These recommendations will be put up for discussion at the next round of the bilateral dialogue.
The participants recommended adoption of a visionary methodology to streamline the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. This would include multi-tiered, periodic and structured dialogue to remove misunderstandings and obstacles and move towards peace.
A number of doable recommendations were proposed which are being forwarded to the Working Groups for further deliberation and inclusion in their final submissions at the next round of the bilateral dialogue.
The fourth round of the bilateral dialogue will be held in Kabul in the first half of January, 2016.