Pakistan Afghanistan Track II Dialogue held

Pakistan Afghanistan Track II Dialogue held

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan-Afghanistan Track-II dialogue were held in Islamabad. A joint declaration adopted after discussions on key issues called for the effective operationalisation of the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) to address all key issues, Daily Times has reported.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbas and Afghan President Ghani had agreed on the seven principles of APAPPS in Kabul on April 6 this year, which provides institutionalised framework for bilateral engagement through five working groups -politico-diplomatic, economy and trade, refugee repatriation, military to military and intelligence to intelligence working groups.

Afghan leaders’ statements about Pakistan after the Taliban stormed Ghazni city last month were viewed as unhelpful in Pakistan; however, both sides vowed efforts to avoid any mistrust.

Daily Times learnt that Pakistan also suggested a meeting of the APAPPS working committee to be held in Islamabad. The visit of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is also planned this month.

The Track 1.5/11 dialogue ‘Beyond Boundaries’ organised by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) also underlined the need to focus on the humanitarian dimension of the bilateral relationship to end violence for a dignified return of refugees and honourable treatment to each other.

The participants urged the governments in Islamabad and Kabul to overcome the barriers impeding trade to increase exchanges related to economic and trade cooperation and recognise that there had been a positive increase in bilateral trade.

On the issue of Afghan refugees, the delegates recommended that APAPPS as a platform should be used to facilitate repatriation of refugees.

The participants also called for the creation of a group represented by two persons each from the Afghan media and the Pakistani media using Beyond Boundaries as a platform to improve media interaction with the objective of creating a positive perception of bilateral relations.

The participants announced support to the parliamentary elections to be held in Afghanistan in October this year. “We recommend that Pakistani media channels should be issued visas to travel to Afghanistan for coverage of Afghan parliamentary elections in October 2018,” the declaration said.

The delegates also recommended that Dari and Pashto dramas be dubbed in Urdu and aired in Pakistan and vice versa.

During discussions, Pakistani participants said that the new civilian government and the military in Pakistan were on the same page, which would bode well for bilateral relationship and Afghan peace process.

They argued that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s victory speech on July 26 highlighted the new government’s vision for strengthened Pak-Afghan relations; showing the renewed importance the premier gives to Afghanistan.

Speaking at the opening session, Afghan Deputy Head of Mission Zardasht Shams expressed hope that Pakistan would extend help to reduce violence in Afghanistan. He said that surge in Taliban violence could have negative impact on bilateral dialogue.

Director General Afghan desk at Foreign Office Dr Aejaz assured the delegates that Pakistan had no favourite in Afghanistan and supported President Ashraf Ghani’s peace offer to the Taliban.