On September 13-14, 2011, Afghan and Pakistani parliamentarians met in Islamabad to discuss relations between their countries as part of the EastWest Institute’s Abu Dhabi Process. The purpose of the dialogue is to seek more parliamentary cooperation between the two countries. With the generous support of the Abu Dhabi government, EWI has facilitated a dialogue between Afghan and Pakistani leaders for the past two years in order to promote trust building between them.
“Good relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are key to ensuring reconciliation in Afghanistan and successful transition until 2014,” said EWI Vice President and Director of Regional Security Guenter Overfeld. “I am encouraged by the determination of the parliamentarians to work towards that goal. Parliamentary support can help the peace process a lot.”
The parliamentary dialogue was hosted by the National Assembly of Pakistan. Participants pointed to recent positive developments in the evolving bilateral relationship. But they also acknowledged that as NATO reduces its troop presence and prepares to hand over responsibility for security to the Afghan government by 2014, there will be a need for further efforts to strengthen the Afghan-Pakistani relationship and build mutual confidence and trust.
Three main recommendations came out of the meetings:
- Enhance parliamentary oversight over both governments to ensure a commitment to the dialogue and to further all aspects of the developing relationship;
- Strengthen border management to facilitate cross-border mobility and to combat militancy and organized crime;
- Intensify reconciliation processes within both countries and synchronize national efforts for reconciliation with regional countries and with the international community.
Participants agreed to establish regular parliamentary contacts and to set up Afghan-Pakistani parliamentary friendship caucuses in both parliaments. Based on the solid record of the first bilateral peace Jirga—or assembly—in 2007, all participating parliamentarians urged the convening of a second bilateral Jirga. They suggested to the government of the United Arab Emirates that the Jirga be facilitated by the Abu Dhabi Process.