Pakistani and Afghan members of the civil society and researchers will be opening a two-day dialogue in Islamabad on Monday to help improve bilateral relations at a time when mistrust has badly affected official contacts between the two countries.
Organisers said “the Pakistan-Afghanistan Track 1.5/II project Beyond Boundaries has assumed unusual significance because of the current tensions and the stalled dialogue between the two governments”.
The key objectives of the initiative are expanding the peace constituency through friendship groups in both countries; improving support for better Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship through dialogue among the influential stakeholders and informing policy makers through consensus recommendations.
The working groups on regional security and civil society will address varied themes that are important in the peace process between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is also expected to build upon existing commonalities and increase future people-to-people contact.
“The Track 1.5/II becomes important also because the bilateral relationship has been fraught with mutual mistrust been the proxy battleground for complicated regional relationships,” Imtiaz Gul, the Pakistani organiser told the media.
Gul’s Centre of Research and Security Studies (CRSS) has launched the process in partnership with its Afghan counterpart DURAN Research and Analysis (DRA).
“The arrival of the Afghan civil society and youth delegation marks the resumption of dialogue between non-governmental and political stakeholders from the two countries to the backdrop of a politically difficult and challenging environment,” a CRSS statement said.
Initiatives like beyond boundaries will bring together influential government and non-governmental stake-holders who can help lessen tensions, address misconceptions, and revive some level of confidence, it added.
The process will also urge both governments and key stakeholders away from the prior behaviour of confrontation and an antagonistic-approach towards a more trust and collaborative-based approach for peace, security, and regional cooperation.