AIAS hosted the pre-orientation meeting for the third Afg-Pak partnership summit on the 29th of November, 2018.
An introduction and overview of the program goals, procedures, and participants introduction, as well as an Introduction of the American Institute of Afghanistan studies and Hollings center, was given to the participants by the AIAS director Dr. Rohullah Amin at the beginning of the meeting.
Dr. Amin gave an overview on Afghanistan and Pakistan relations, barriers, opportunities to overcome these barriers and the way this dialogue can be an initiative in finding ways to solve the issues and to overcome the barriers between two countries.
During the introduction, Dr. Amin briefly discussed the agenda of the summit among the participants, shared the experiences of the two summits between two countries that gave an idea to the participants about how these summits are arranged and how these summits have opened ways for creating relations between the participants of the summits which is one of the main aims of these programs.
Meanwhile, participants were asked to briefly introduce themselves and share their experiences of Pakistan or any similar events or programs that if they have attended.
The discussion in the first session started by discussions among the participants about the barriers to cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, during the discussion various perspectives were shared by the participants. These perspectives from the participants varied regarding their experiences from Pakistan and according to that, participants pointed a number of the barriers that exist to cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and shared their ideas on how these barriers can be overcome.
The barriers like Durand- line case, the perceive treat that Pakistan feels from the existence of India in Afghanistan, strategic barriers, Pakistan’s interference in internal issues of Afghanistan were discussed in details among the participants.
Besides discussing the barriers, participants mentioned the fact that Pakistan is an important neighbor of Afghanistan and without building a friendly relations and cooperation between two countries, not only Afghanistan but Pakistan will not be able to create stable situation for its citizens, as it is a generally accepted fact that the conflicts between two countries during these years has affected both countries economically and politically.
Participants emphasized the role of civil society, media, cultural activities, and economic activities on overcoming these barriers. The similarities and what both countries have in common can be one of the major points in removing the barriers.
In the second session of the meeting, participants discussed the possible opportunities to overcome the barriers that exist between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Two of the participants gave presentations about the opportunities of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and shared their experiences with other participants.
Mr. Samsor discussed the importance of educational programs in creating a cooperation between two countries and suggested that educational exchange programs, conferences for the students and youth, Forums, and seminars are significant in creating relations among the younger generation of the countries. Also, he suggested the involvement of countries like China and India in these programs can be a good initiative for a better tomorrow.
Ms. Rada Akbar, who recently attended an event in Pakistan shared her experience of who these events and programs can be useful for bringing both countries together.
Participants who are involved in private sector activities, agreed on the point that both countries and their people can be very helpful for each other and listed the economic activities like having economical agreements, creating Joint economical markets of both countries and focusing on economical part as a significant reason to increase the level of cooperation between two countries, as opportunities to cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Role of Media in conflict management and in influencing the mindset and perspectives of the people in both countries by giving them the idea that having cooperation between both countries will be beneficial for all will be a great opportunity that can be used in both countries.
At the end of the second session of the meeting, participants were asked to break into small groups to discuss the recommendations and outcomes from the meeting. Participants were divided into three groups.
In the third session of the meeting, all groups presented their recommendations to the participants. Participants were divided into three groups sharing their recommendations in the aspects of the strategic, security, political, cultural, and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some of the recommendations from the groups can be listed as below:
- Cooperation between the two governments in all aspects.
- Discussing the strategies of both countries for each other in the summit.
- Having a joint mechanism for investigating the blames from both countries
- Abstaining from any action that would provoke any of the two countries to take an action against each other.
- Creating a visa-free system for the citizens of the two countries.
- Documenting all the discussions, summits, and forums that take place about the cooperations of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Increasing the numbers of the meetings, contacts, and communications among the political and groups form the civil societies of both countries.
- Having cultural exchange programs like exhibitions, festivals, sports
- Having a joint Afg-Pak chamber of commerce
- Transboundary water dialogue between two countries
- Taking the initiative of the Sister cities concept between Afghanistan and Pakistan
- An increase in relations of the media of both countries
- Making Pakistan believe that India cannot use for Afghanistan against Pakistan.