The first round of the US-Pakistan Bilateral (track-II) Dialogue was held on January 3-4 at the Wilson Centre, Washington, DC under the umbrella theme of “Convergence amid Divergence: Identifying Pathways to Cooperation in a Challenging Environment”.
The dialogue is sponsored by the State Department and implemented by the Regional Peace Institute in partnership with the Wilson Centre, Washington, DC.
As part of the first round, four sessions were held to cover the following sub-themes:
Shifting Regional Dynamics: Can U.S.-Pakistan Relations adjust to New Geopolitical Realities?
Managing Militancy: Opportunities and Limits of U.S.-Pakistan Counter-terrorism Cooperation
South-Asia’s Nuclear Architecture: Prospects and Challenges
Stabilizing Afghanistan: Can there be a Mutually Agreeable Endgame?
Each delegation comprised five members while a host of discussants based in Washington also took part in the deliberations. The following were the delegates:
Michael Kugelman Pakistan
Riaz Mohammad Khan
Najmuddin A. Shaikh
General (R) Ahsan Saleem Hyat
Among others, the discussants included Marvin Weinbaum, Bill Milam, Bob Hathaway, Ishrat Hussain, Earl Anthony Wayne, Daniel O’Conner, Shuja Nawaz, Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Stephen P. Cohen, Moeed Yusuf, Arif Rafiq, Hassan Abbas, K. Alan Kronstadt, Tom Lynch, Shala Awan Hasan, Dan Feldman, Don Camp and David Smith.
A diversity of opinions came forth during the course of the sessions from both sides. There were areas of sharp divergence but, happily, there were also areas of convergence and a need was felt for continued engagement and cooperation between the two countries in resolving the outstanding bilateral and regional issues.
Simultaneously, questions were raised particularly with regard to Pakistan’s approach towards tackling terror and the evolving nuclear architecture in South-Asia. Speakers from the two sides came out with restating some of the already stated positions, but there were also fresh insights regarding how to move further in tackling sensitive outstanding issues.
The second round of the bilateral will be held in Islamabad in the first week of April and it is expected that these discussions will be carried further and substantive input will be compiled to throw up sustainable policy options for the two governments and other stakeholders to consider in their future deliberations.