Participants of a dialogue held in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday decided to help normalise relationships between Pakistan and Afghanistan by calling for resumption of trade dialogue, visa facilitations, exchange programmes and people-to people-contact.
The dialogue, titled Track-II/1.5 Beyond Borders, was organised by Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and its Afghan counterpart Organisation for Economic Studies and Peace (OESP).
A joint declaration of policy recommendations was issued on the final day of the three-day dialogue which welcomed the recent government level interactions between Islamabad and Kabul. The consultations between director generals of military operations of both the countries was highly appreciated by participants. They hoped that both the countries would show restraint to strengthen bilateral relations and ensure peace in the region.
During the first meeting of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Committee (PAJC) comprising of members from CRSS and OESP, the participants welcomed the initiative of both the countries to start the process of various working groups to address issues affecting bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries.
In addition, PAJC held detailed discussions on the current status of bilateral relations, including issues of peace and security, refugees, media cooperation, movement of goods and people across the two countries, facilitation of trade, visa restrictions and academic scholarships in particular.
The joint committee strongly called on both the governments to convene meeting of the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordinating Authority (APTTCA) as soon as possible to address pending transit trade issues. It was pointed out by several participants that Afghanistan has not called the meeting for 18 months despite Pakistan’s repeated requests.
The participants called for immediate resumption of bilateral trade talks, including recently imposed regulatory taxes on Afghan exports to Pakistan.
The PAJC pressed Pakistan to expedite and facilitate implementation of the scholarship programmes for Afghan students.