Was Islamabad conference useful?

One week before, Heart of Asia conference was held in Islamabad in which fourteen countries participated in it. The subject of the meeting, jointly hosted by Pakistan and Afghanistan, is ‘Heart of Asia—Istanbul Process: Enhanced cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the Heart of Asia region’. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates are part of the initiative launched in 2011 for boosting economic and security collaboration between Afghanistan and its neighbors for dealing with the mutual problems of terrorism, extremism and poverty.

Six main areas in which the 14 countries have been following confidence building measures since 2013 Almaty meeting are: disaster management, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, trade and investment, regional infrastructure, and education.

Adviser to the Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz delivered the opening remarks at the meeting, saying ”Enhanced cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity is pertinent to the needs of the region.”

Main point is that all this Heart of Asia Conference was not just happened by chance. On one side, warmness among Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in this conference is not the result of the Heart of Asia Conference but fairly a command of the realization by all major players that without cooperation there is no route to success. Even though there was no such conference scheduled, the key players would have had to meet through some other event.

President Ghani faced more political trouble internally and Pakistan was better option to have regional peace and stability. Thus internally Afghanistan was left with no choice but to talk again with Pakistan and resolve its issues with the Taliban. Similarly, Pakistan had to talk with Afghanistan as in case of any turmoil in Afghanistan, it is Pakistan that suffers the most.

Diplomatic pause among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan has made negotiations more difficult. It is really a test of leadership to maintain good relations and achieve regional peace.

Incompetence on the part of any leader would result not only in internal political crises and regional consequences but would also invite global pressure. President Ghani also met Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif which shows how much serious both countries are for regional peace.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and other regional countries should realize that such is a rare occasion for restoring peace and it does not come every day.

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