Taking advantage of the presence of a few Afghan members of parliament in Islamabad, the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) hosted a dinner in their honour on 25 December, 2017.
The Afghan MPs were led by Khalid Pashtoon, a prominent member of the CRSS Pak-Afghan Track 1.5/II dialogue project “Beyond Boundaries.” These MPs were part of a 16 member delegation, led by Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, which participated in the six country regional first Speakers’ Conference on 24-25 December held in Islamabad to discuss “the challenges of terrorism and inter-regional connectivity”.
Beyond Boundaries’ members included Mr. Khalid Pashtoon, and Mr. Mirwais Yasini; other parliamentarians present were Ms. Nasima (Helmand), Engineer Qarar (Leghman), Mr. Qari Hanifi (Herat) and and Mr.Najrabi, head of the Woolasi Jirga’s committee on internal security. Pakistan Beyond Boundaries members present included Dr. Shoaib Suddle, Mr. Zahid Hussain, and Tahir Khan. Other distinguished guests invited were Mr. Ayaz Wazir, former Ambassador, Mr. Salim Safi, senior journalist, and Mr. Asif Bhatti, a correspondent with the daily Jang.
Led by Qari Hanifi all guests also offered a collective prayer for peace in both countries and prayed for uninterrupted people to people contacts as well.
Ambassador Ayaz Wazir on behalf of CRSS, welcomed, Afghan guests and urged for continued engagement to rub off bilateral acrimony and reduce mistrust. He thanked CRSS for arranging an informal working dinner to discuss with the parliamentarians the Pak-Afghan bilateral relations, the issues jointly faced by the two countries, and a chance to listen to Afghan members who attended the recent Speakers Conference. He said peace and prosperity and economic connectivity are not only important for Pakistan and Afghanistan, but for the entire region. He hoped that with this high level Speaker’s delegations visit, more such multilateral or bilateral contacts should follow.
The Afghan parliamentarians shared their views and had an open and informal discussion with Pakistani guest invited to the dinner.
Mr. Khalid Pashtoon said that he was very happy to be here as part of Afghan Speaker’s delegation attending the six-nation Speakers Conference, it is a very welcome and significant development with high level Afghan parliamentary delegation participation, which will improve more bilateral contacts.
Afghan guests said the Speakers Conference, adopted a 29-point Islamabad Declaration of partnership for regional peace, development and connectivity, provided a good opportunity for bilateral interactions and hoped this would be followed by more formal, government to government contacts as well.
Beside host Pakistan, the speakers of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Russian Federation and Turkey participated in the conference along with their respective parliamentary delegations. During the two day conference the speakers discussed the significance of peace, development and connectivity among the conference participating states and held in-depth and useful discussions to explore ways for forging a partnership in these mutually reinforcing areas.
During the two day visit, the Afghan Speaker and members of parliament also held important meetings with the Speaker of National Assembly, Mr. Ayaz Sadiq, and Chairman of Senate, Mr. Raza Rabbani.
© Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and Afghan Studies Center (ASC), Islamabad.