Pakistan and Afghanistan: Relations, Diplomacy, and Security Challenges June 19, 2017
A discussion featuring the Pakistan and Afghanistan ambassadors to the United States
INDUS-Mobilizing People’s Power, a Washington D.C. based think tank, hosted a dialogue on June 19, 2017, between the Ambassadors of Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss common interests and challenges to their nations’ important bilateral relationship.
INDUS President Athar Javaid welcomed the guests and introduced INDUS. Mr. Shezad Habib, INDUS Special Advisor and sponsor of the event, welcomed the two ambassadors. Dr. Marvin Weinbaum, a member of the INDUS Academic Panel, introduced the ambassadors and moderated the session.
Pakistan Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhary expressed Pakistan’s view that its relationship with Afghanistan is very important, that peace and stability in Pakistan is impossible without peace and stability in Afghanistan, and that it is in Pakistan’s strong interest to see a prosperous, stable, sovereign, and independent Afghanistan. Amb. Chaudhary also noted that Afghanistan cannot blame Pakistan for all its problems, and encouraged Afghanistan to act against the terrorists that are attacking it from within.
Afghanistan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib stated that terrorism is a threat to both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also noted the statement of his country’s president, that Pakistan has imposed an undeclared war on Afghanistan and that Afghanistan and other neighboring states blame Pakistan for exporting terrorism to their frontiers. Amb. Mohib warned of taking Pakistan to the United Nations for sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan. In response, Amb. Chaudhary cited a recent report from the U.S. Department of Defense that deemed Afghanistan as having the greatest concentration of militants and terrorist groups in the world, noting that such a volatile situation in Afghanistan is worrying for Pakistan.
Amb. Chaudhary then highlighted the need for dialogue, to find a solution to all the outstanding issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan, expressing his hope to restore the quadrilateral peace process and solve the problem in a cordial manner.
Amb. Mohib stated that Afghanistan does not know with which Pakistan it should engage – the one controlled by the military or the civilian government. He accused the Pakistan military of policies that use extremism as a foreign policy tool. Amb. Chaudhry said that such statements by the Afghan ambassador are clear violation of diplomatic norms and interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan.
Amb. Chaudhary noted that Pakistan is overcoming security issues, eradicating the Afghan militants that crossed into Pakistan after the bombing of Tora Bora, and improving the national economy, but Pakistan’s recent gains and achievements are at risk if Afghanistan fails to increase its internal stability. He stated that the government in Kabul, far from enjoying full control over the entire country, must deal with a vacuum in governance and lack of administrative units at the district level. He said that terrorist groups, like ISIS, are exploiting this weakness.
Amb. Chaudhry said Pakistan is willing to play its role to bring peace in Afghanistan in any possible way, and, instead of blaming Pakistan, Afghanistan should address its weak governance, corruption, drug trade and economic stress. Rather, both states should show the friendly spirit on display recently in Astana between the Afghan President and Pakistan Prime Minister. There is a dire need for both countries to devise a strategy to coordinate efforts to defeat terrorism.
The candid dialogue concluded with questions from the audience and a note of positive cooperation between the ambassadors. The session’s full video is available on the INDUS website.