Participants stress greater people to people contacts between Pakistan, Afghanistan for strengthening relationship

Islamabad: Participants of a roundtable discussion on Wednesday agreed that greater people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and Afghanistan was necessary for strengthening relationship, so that both countries better understand each other.

Roundtable discussion was held at the Jinnah Institute in Islamabad. The discussion focused on the state of Afghanistan, U.S.-Pakistan relations and the way forward on resolving the issues that have plagued them.

There is no substitute for a political agreement in Afghanistan, and military action alone is not enough to bring an end to the conflict, said James Larocco, director of the Near East South Asia Centre for Strategic Studies in Washington and a former ambassador.

“Militaries don’t solve the problems. Essentially you have to address political issues, and you have to address economic issues. Without addressing those two, militaries accomplish nothing,” said Amb. Other countries in the region, especially Pakistan, need to be comfortable and feel secure with the political and economic arrangements in Afghanistan, he added.

The Jinnah Institute discussion was attended by senior journalists, researchers, former and current Pakistani officials and members of civil society.

Raza Rumi, director of policy and programmes at the Jinnah Institute, stressed the need for improving ties not just between governments and militaries, but also between institutions and people.

The lively discussion also focused on the trust deficit between the United States and Pakistan, and how both countries had no choice but to work together for goals, especially for regional stability, and that both countries needed to deepen their ties, which are currently “episodic” in nature.

Participants in the discussion included former Pakistan ambassador Sarwar Naqvi, Irfan Malik of the Washington D.C. based USPAK Foundation, senior journalists Ejaz Haider, Mariana Babar and Farrukh Pitafi, Arshi Saleem Hashmi from the National Defence University, and Lt. Gen. retd Talat Masood.