The event held in Marriott was widely attended by members of the foreign missions, local diplomats and retired generals as well as members of civil society and media professionals. The session started with introductory remarks on the project by Philipp Kauppert, Resident Director, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Pakistan and Ms Sarah Hees, FES Regional Coordinator, Peace and Security Policy. Philip Kauppert gave the background to FES’s work and its presence in Pakistan.He explained how the FES was a platform for helping dialogues throughout the region. He gave an overview of the current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and talked of the importance of jointly resolving the security situation and focusing on economic and trade relations as well as improving communication channels between the countries. He explained the process of how the Joint declaration was instituted and how it was launched in Istanbul in 2013 and Pakistan in January 2014.
Ms Sarah Hees, Regional coordinator for peace and security, described how FES facilitated track 2 dialogue to build the trust between the two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. She talked about the three phases in which this project evolved beginning in 2012 with the involvement of policy members from over 11 regional countries and 60 international experts. In the second phase the regional declaration was launched with the third phase now focusing on the operationalization of the declaration.Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal, Convener of the Afghan Policy Group (APG) talked of the importance of a good relationship between the two countries; but pointed out that joint history of the two countries had many ups and downs. Mr.KhalidAziz, Convener Pakistan policy group talked about Pakistan needing to establish its credibility and ensuring that there is no distinction made between good or bad Taliban. He cited the importance of the recent action by the Afghan government handing over LatifMasood- leader of Pakistani Taliban – to Pakistan.
The panel discussion moderated by AmbQaziHumuyun had two members each from the Pakistan and Afghanistan policy groups. Amb Aziz Ahmad Khan was the first to start stating while both countries carry a lot of baggage from the pastthe security and political aspects of both countries required them to recognize that peace was necessary. Dr Salma Malik pointed out as the only female member of the PPG group she felt that women should have a greater role in the relationships between the two countries. She felt there was too much expectation from the President of Afghanistan and thought more women should be involved at all levels especially with regard to security even at the micro levels. Women needed to get together to explore and women’s forums needed to be themselves actively involved on security and other issues pertaining to the countries.
Amb.Omar Samad mentioned that while the two countries had an oscillating relationship both countries are victims of misconception and miscommunication. He felt both countries should forget the past andget on with the future and be aware of‘who is with us and who is against us’ and not give chance to spoilers and third parties to ruin their relationship. Mr. Sayeed Ishaq Gailani, leader of National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan, member of the APG, pointed out that the bad relations between the two countries stem from the Russian invasion and with the mujahideen fighters coming to Afghanistan seeing it as the door to paradise;and along with jihad came groups from Arabian countries in form of Al Qaeda and now ISIS.The audience asked several questions the first was regarding the democratic setup in Afghanistan and particularly what should be done for the democratic system go on in Afghanistan and Pakistan?