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Regional Experts Develop Common Vision for Future Afghanistan

Policy Groups of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, and India

with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

 

Joint Press Release

 

(Kabul, 17 November 2013) – Around 60 regional multidisciplinary and leading experts and specialists from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, the Central Asian Republics, China, India, Russia and Turkey presented a common view on the future of Afghanistan in Kabul through the launch of the “Joint Declaration on Regional Peace and Stability.”

 

Facilitated by the Friedrich Ebert StiftungFES, a German political foundation with decades-long experience in facilitating dialogues in tension ridden regions, this common view presents the culmination of one-and-half years of Track-II diplomacy – bilateral meetings, multilateral summits and exchanges of opinion – in Kabul and most of the regional capitals.

 

Such a joint declaration that is authored by the region is critical as the future of Afghanistan is intertwined with the future of the region – a secure and stable Afghanistan is crucial to establishing a secure and prosperous region. With the international forces beginning their planned drawdown, Afghanistan’s direct and regional neighbors recognize the benefit and the responsibility of supporting and welcoming a successful security, political and economic transition as well as peace, stability and sustainability of their neighbor.

 

During the launch of the Declaration in Kabul, the Conveners of the regional Policy Groups, Misters Mahmoud SAIKAL of Afghanistan, Khalid AZIZ of Pakistan, Sanat KUSHKUMBAYEV of Kazakhstan and General Ashok K. MEHTA of India, while underscoring Afghanistan’s achievements, presented a series of short, medium and long-term recommendations for the national, regional and global levels. The implementation of these recommendations during the transition (2014) and the ensuing Decade of Transformation (culminating in 2024) will transform Afghanistan into a friendly state and an asset to all those who bear legitimate interest in the common outcome, particularly that of the grief-stricken people of Afghanistan.

 

Members of the Afghanistan Policy Group (see full list on page two) who, with the support of other Policy Groups, played a steering role in the preparation of the Declaration shed light and insight on some of the key recommendations:

 

Elaborating on the national level, Mr. Mohammad Younus QANOONI stated, “In light of the current sensitive juncture, and in order to successfully overcome the transition and improve coordination with regional and international players, advancing the capacity of governance systems and national institutions of Afghanistan is essential. In this regard, one key recommendation is the establishment of an all-inclusive credible national consensus among state agencies, legitimate political entities including the legitimate opposition and civil society on a non-partisan, inclusive national action plan. This plan will: guide the visible reduction in organized corruption; develop a convincing economic transition blueprint; reconcile differing Afghan positions on the Peace Process; conduct credible, inclusive and transparent Presidential, Provincial Council and Parliamentary Elections in 2014 and 2015 respectively; identify and adopt proactive regional policies under a framework that pulls together talent and expertise from all political groups in steering the regional opportunities whether through bilateral or multilateral forums. As a result, this will generate improved governance, making Afghanistan a safe and livable place for its citizens.”

 

Mr. Mohammad Haneef ATMAR, commenting on regional issues, was quoted as saying, “Determining a resolution on the removal of existing apprehensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been a priority for the experts and specialists. In this regard, efforts have been made to seriously determine and to permanently remove apprehensions and the root causes for the trust-deficit between both countries. A key recommendation in the Declaration calls for the establishment of a ‘Permanent National-Level Multidisciplinary Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Experts Group.’” He further commented on wider regional cooperation initiatives the Declaration values, “The Declaration contains additional recommendations in support of the Istanbul and RECCA Processes, the Peace Process, the fight against terrorism and illicit narcotics, resolution of the India-Pakistan tensions, enhancement of the relations between Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics, as well as other relevant issues.”

 

Dr. Sima SAMAR stated, “At the international level, a request is made to the United States of America and its NATO allies to take a number of confidence building measures so as to reassure Afghanistan, its neighbors and other regional countries that their long-term presence in Afghanistan is solely to empower the Afghan people and the Afghan Government to manage their own affairs as an independent nation-state, to combat international terrorism and extremism, assist regional peace and stability and to demonstrate that they espouse no other motives.”

 

Mr Abdul Rahim KARIMI further elaborated, “A resolution to the Iran-US standoff would help improve Afghan-Iranian bilateral relations, allowing the legitimate and overlapping interests of the two countries to expand in Afghanistan.” 

 

Mr. Haron AMIN remarked, “One of the important recommendations of the Joint Declaration of the regional experts is to gradually lead Afghanistan to the direction of enduring neutrality during the Decade of Transformation. This will require national, regional and international efforts. This neutrality will be Afghan-led and Afghan-specific, seeking codification and support by the neighboring and regional countries as well as global powers and the United Nations towards increased Afghan capacity and capability to protect and manage the status.”

 

Mrs. Adrienne WOLTERSDORF, the Resident Representative of FES-Afghanistan said, “The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung was privileged to facilitate the meetings, discussions and understandings of seasoned politicians, parliamentarians, diplomats, military officials, analysts and media representatives from over ten regional countries, leading to the launch of the historic Joint Declaration in support of Istanbul and RECCA processes. I hope these efforts will contribute to the sustainable peace and stability of Afghanistan and the region.” Commenting on the international launch to follow the national one in Kabul, Mrs. Woltersdorf also said, “The Joint Declaration of the experts will be presented to the wider international community through a conference in Istanbul on21 November 2013.”

 

Thanking the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Mr. Mahmoud SAIKAL expressed, “One of the most important tools in international relations is dialogue among experts of different countries. Afghanistan, more than any other country, needs this kind of dialogue and the Afghanistan Policy Group calls for the continuation of such dialogues and pursuing of their outcomes.”

 

End

Members of Afghanistan Policy Group (APG) are: (1) Former Ambassador to Japan Haron AMIN (APG Facilitator), (2) Former Interior Minister Mohammad Haneef ATMAR, (3) Journalist Fahim DASHTY, (4) MP Sayed Ishaq GAILANI, (5) Former Minister of Justice Abdul Rahim KARIMI, (6) Head of Journalists Union of Afghanistan Abdul Hamid MOBARIZ, (7) Former Speaker and current Member of Lower House Mohammad Yunus QANOONI, (8) Geopolitics Specialist Sardar Mohammad RAHIMI, (9) Former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mahmoud SAIKAL (APG Convener), (10) Former Ambassador to France and Canada Omar SAMAD, (11) Chair of Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan Dr Sima SAMAR, (12) Journalist Sanjar SOHAIL, (13) Development Specialist Wahidullah WAISSI    

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