The 7th Round of the Afghanistan Pakistan Bilateral (Track II/ I.5) Dialogue was held in Islamabad from March 5-6, 2017 under the Umbrella Theme “In Pursuit of an Elusive Peace – A diversity of challenges, a bouquet of opportunities”.
The dialogue was organized by the Regional Peace Institute (RPI) in collaboration with the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS). It was supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF).
There were four sessions held spread over two days discussing the sub-themes of:
The shifting dynamics in the region – Impediments and opportunities for mobility and change
In the backdrop of growing uncertainty – Perpetuating a gigantic humanitarian crisis
Spread of radicalization and the rise of Da’esh – Historical, ideological, political and regional perspectives
With the security situation deteriorating rapidly – The need for a joint counter narrative and mechanism to combat the threat of breakdown
An eight-member Afghan delegation comprising government officials, academics, civil society activists and media and think-tank professionals took part in the discussions. Pakistan was represented by senior politicians, parliamentarians, former diplomats and army officers, academia, media and think-tank representatives.
After extremely engrossing and informative sessions, and stressing on the centrality of peace in one country as being dependent on peace in the other country, the two sides agreed on the following guidelines on the path to improving the relationship between the neighbouring countries:
To remedy the humanitarian crisis, the border crossing posts should be opened immediately. For the future, a bilateral approach should be agreed upon and implemented to prevent such occurrences.
The recommendations of the fifth round of the Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral dialogue were reiterated for gradual, voluntary and dignified return of the refugees and migrants.
Transit trade agreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan should be implemented in totality and in accordance with international norms.
In the context of the fast-changing dynamics in the region, urgent steps should be taken to encourage a collaborative bilateral approach to address the growing challenges and make use of the regional economic opportunities.
The spread of religious extremist militancy and terrorism and the reported rise of Da’esh pose existential challenges to the region. The countries of the region need to engage closely for developing and implementing an all-encompassing remedial narrative and strategy to combat the threat.
The Afghan Delegation emphasized that the Taliban are an integral part of the terrorist movements in both countries. Those members of the Taliban who accept the Afghan Constitution could be integrated into the mainstream Afghan politics. Some members of the Pakistan delegation agreed with the Afghan contention.
A few members of the Pakistani Delegation emphasized the need for reconciliation which should be Afghan-led.
The two countries should ensure that their respective soil is not used for launching attacks inside the other country.
The institutions spreading the writ of terror should be proceeded against without any loss of time.
The syllabi being taught to impressionable minds should be closely re-evaluated and reviewed.
Afghanistan and Pakistan should initiate steps to bridge the trust deficit and hostile mindsets that separate the two countries.
The bilateral relationship must be regulated on the centrality of a state to state basis in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
The meeting also decided to constitute a joint committee comprising elder statesmen, retired ambassadors, military officers and technocrats to guide the two governments on various strategic and related issues. The members of the committee will be announced in due course.