Building Peace and Connectivity through Research and Dialogue

Afghan participants: “Pakistan hasn’t changed its policies towards Afghanistan for decades. A more evolved relationship is needed.”

In our continued series of Track II dialogues between Afghanistan and Pakistan, hosted the Heart of Asia Society and Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, participants raised the issues of humanitarian crisis, the problem with the “binary” approach to the recognition of the Taliban, the economic relations between the two countries, and the importance of dialogue and people-to-people contacts.

The Afghan side emphasized on what an inclusive government means for them – it’s not to tokenize the cabinet and include a few different individuals from the same ideology. Among others, it’s about real representation and the continuation of the institutions that offered the much-needed services to the Afghan people. It means allowing democratic institutions in which people feel part of the system.

Referring to the role of Pakistan, participants concluded that with great influence comes great responsibilities and that this is a historic opportunity for Afghanistan and Pakistan to start a new chapter of positive bilateral relationship based on mutual trust, respect and cooperation.

The Afghan side also detailed that Pakistan hasn’t changed its policies towards Afghanistan for decades and that a more evolved relationship is needed. The two countries don’t agree on fundamentals and that in order to create a mutually beneficial bi-lateral relationship, Pakistan needs to treat Afghanistan as an independent and sovereign state.

Countries in the region and beyond are rightly concerned about the impending security threats emanating from Afghanistan. Is it going to be a source of rift in the region or is this going to unite the region to tackle extremism? Some countries are engaging the Taliban out of absolute necessity but a united approach is needed to eliminate extremism in the region and beyond.