Seeking Solutions for Afghanistan

Policy Report | March 02, 2011

On March 3, 2011, the EastWest Institute released a report on reconciliation with the Taliban, Seeking Solutions for Afghanistan: Second Report on the Abu Dhabi Process. The report is based on a recent meeting between Afghan and Pakistani leaders held in Kabul, part of an ongoing series facilitated by EWI and sponsored by the government of Abu Dhabi to build trust and regional stability.

“Afghan and Pakistani leaders sat down to create a road map for political settlement that looks at how Pakistan can contribute to the search for a peaceful solution,” said Guenter Overfeld, EWI Vice President and Director of Regional Security. “Reconciliation is a central security issue for Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.”

Meeting participants called for President Hamid Karzai’s government and the Taliban leadership to commit to unconditional talks in a trusted environment, ideally in a ceasefire zone with a mediator from a neutral country. Participants also recommended making talks more inclusive, saying that the engagement of tribal leaders along the border is “vital to the success of reconciliation.”

To improve the Afghanistan and Pakistan relationship, meeting participants suggested a “mechanism for a regular and genuine information exchange and cooperation,” such as an Afghanistan-Pakistan Jirga process.

Participants also recommended that to decrease the trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both countries should address the role of India in Afghanistan in a frank and transparent manner.

The meeting was also a step towards building person-to-person trust between Pakistani and Afghan leaders, according to Ambassador Overfeld: “To the participants’ credit, palpable tensions gradually gave way to a constructive spirit -- a real determination to bring sustainable development and peace to the region.”