Public talk on “Pakistan – Afghanistan Relations” (Press Release)

570

Press Release by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad January 13, 2016

The Institute of Strategic Islamabad (ISSI) organized a public talk on “Pakistan – Afghanistan Relations” and the distinguished speaker on the occasion was, H.E Janan Mosazai, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Pakistan. The talk was held under the “Ambassador’s Platform” forum.

Ambassador Masood Khan, Director General ISSI in his welcome remarks highlighted that Pakistan and Afghanistan are bound by the ties of geography, history, ethnicity, and religion. The two countries share similar paths and their destinies are interlocked which is why they need to work on a common strategy for peace and harmony and banish terrorism and violent extremism from the region. He highlighted how the two countries have restarted their joint quest for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process – the Quadrilateral Coordination Group Dialogue and stated that in this “quad”, Afghanistan is the key actor, while the other three countries are playing a supportive, facilitative role. He laid emphasis on the fact that direct talks without any preconditions and red lines were vital in order for the peace process to move forward. The key challenge was to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. This he said should be done through ‘incentivization’ rather than coercion. Ambassador Masood stated that it was clear that peace would not be delivered on the battlefields but on peace tables. Peace, he identified would lead to abolishing poverty and deprivation in the region. He pointed out that strategic competition should not sear and scorch the interests and aspirations of the people and Pakistan and Afghanistan, as neighbours and partners, would be a force multiplier for peace and prosperity in the region. He signified that Pakistan would always remain a close friend of Afghanistan, citing that their bond was unbreakable. The Director General emphasised that it was time to prove the critics of the peace process wrong by showcasing resolute diplomacy and statesmanship. He praised Ambassador Mosazi for all his outstanding diplomatic work, wished him the best for his future endeavours.

H.E Janan Mosazai, also echoed the Director General’s sentiments when he stated that millions of Pakistanis trace back their ancestry to Afghanistan. Thus, the relationship between the two countries is not only one of a shared culture and beliefs but also of blood. This, he indicated was something to be proud of and a strong reason for bringing both countries closer together. He thanked the Government of Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees and was grateful for the kindness and hospitality with which they were treated on a daily basis stating that the Afghan refuges held tremendous goodwill for the people of Pakistan. However, he voiced his concern about the recent trend where these refuges had been blamed for terrorist activity in Pakistan and voiced earnest hope that in future such statements would not issued.He further stated that the refugees want to go back home with their dignity intact and till that time this issue should be treated on purely humanitarian grounds and not politicized.

Ambassador Mosazai pointed out that Pakistan and Afghanistan are two independent countries with intertwined destinies. Hence they cannot isolate each other under any circumstance. He stated that his country considers Pakistan a vital partner for economic development and further said that every challenge and issue can be solved through dialogue and discussion. Hence, now the quest for the two countries was to find viable solutions so their relationship can continue on an upward trajectory. He expressed the importance of economic cooperation citing that it would not only help lift millions out of poverty but also would help restore Afghanistan’s natural role as a leader in the region instead of a country which serves as platform for proxy wars. He stated that Kabul recognised the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and said that the multi-billion dollar project would have a positive impact on the economy of Afghanistan as well. He highlighted President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Pakistan in November and applauded all the developments that took place during the visit stating that the solution to the region’s problems lay in progressively narrowing down differences. For this strong linkages needed to be built. The Ambassador also talked about the vitality of transit trade and highlighted developments in the energy sector, namely the Turkestan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000).On the security situation, the Ambassador stated that there was no military solution to the war in Afghanistan. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have suffered heavily at the hands of the terrorists. After the Murree talks proved futile, another effort is now being made in the form of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group dialogue. He stated that peace and cooperation are the key driving goals and sincerity and focus is what is required in order to withstand any blowback from the terrorists.

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman Board of Governors of ISSI, in his concluding remarks underlined the strong bond Pakistan and Afghanistan shared: any event occurring in one country affected the other as well. Thus he said, that there was a need for greater mutual cooperation and coordination. He pointed out that the main problem was the trust deficit between the two countries. However, he indicated that recent developments point towards a very promising future and particularly highlighted the recent Quadrilateral Coordination Group Dialogue in Islamabad, where the common objective of all parties present was to achieve sustainable stability in Afghanistan.

Arhama S/13012016