ISLAMABAD - At the invitation of the Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS), Kabul, a delegation of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) visited Afghanistan from 21-23 August 2023. The delegation was led by Director General ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood and included the Director of the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA), Ms. Amina Khan.
During the visit, the ISSI delegation held several interactions, which included a call on the Acting Foreign Minister of the Interim Afghan Government (IAG) Amir Khan Muttaqi; and Bilateral Dialogue with the Centre for Strategic Studies, headed by Waliullah Shaheen, Director General CSS. Ambassador Sohail Mahmood also delivered a lecture on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations at the Institute of Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Afghanistan. During the ISSI delegation’s meeting with Acting Foreign Minister Muttaqi Obaid Ur Rehman Nizamani, the Chargé d’ Affaires of Pakistan in Kabul, was also present. The meeting focused on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, where Acting Foreign Minister Muttaqi underlined the closeness of ties between the two countries, reinforced by numerous commonalities of faith, culture and geography.
Muttaqi apprised the delegation regarding progress achieved under the Interim Government regarding ensuring overall security in the country, improving the economy, controlling poppy cultivation, and addressing corruption. He also highlighted notable progress registered in bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan and talked about the need to further focus on regional trade and connectivity. He stressed strengthening of bilateral dialogue particularly on issues of mutual concern.
During the meeting, ambassador Sohail Mahmood reviewed the developments during the two years of Afghan Interim government. He also talked about the importance of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations and the recent positives in terms of enhanced bilateral trade. Sohail underscored Pakistan’s role in efforts for stabilization of Afghanistan and stressed the urgency of addressing matters relating to border security and counter-terrorism through close consultations and collaboration. He further stressed that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interest and would be best suited to advance the common interests of trade and connectivity through CPEC and other mega infrastructure projects. During the Bilateral Dialogue between the ISSI delegation and CSS, DG ISSI ambassador Sohail Mahmood, while shedding light on relationship, said it was time for Pakistan and Afghanistan to place the bilateral relationship on a sounder basis that addressed security concerns, strengthened efforts for a robust economic partnership, and promoted the agenda of regional connectivity and economic integration.
Waliullah Shaheen, Director General, CSS, stressed the importance of bilateral relations and said a new approach should be evolved in order to deal with sensitive matters and develop bilateral cooperation into a complimentary relationship. Think-tanks like CSS and ISSI could help promote such an approach, he observed. Sohail also delivered a lecture at the Foreign Ministry’s Institute of Diplomacy. He also underlined the international country’s expectations regarding inclusivity, womens’ rights and girls’ education, and effective counter-terrorism action. Sohail underscored that both countries suffer from trans-national terrorism, which warranted mutual cooperation and a collective response.