European-Pakistan Afghanistan Dialogue

Challenges and Prospects

To further strengthen the ties between Kabul, Islamabad, Berlin and Brussels, a conference entitled “EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue: Challenges and Prospects”, was envisaged to be held in Islamabad in January 2012. The project was jointly organized by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS).

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Kundi

CONFERENCE PROGRAM

09:00-09:10 Recitation of Holy Quran
09:10-09:20 Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Dr. Michael Koch
09:20-09:30 Keynote Address by Acting Speaker of the National Assembly, MNA Faisal Karim Kundi (PPP)

SESSION-I: Regional Security

International Perspectives on Afghanistan and Pakistan until 2014 and beyond

Moderator: Dr. Babak Khalatbari, KAS

Panelists:
• Ahmad Fahim Hakim, (AIHRC)
• Dr. Rifaat Hussain, Quaid-i-Azam University
• Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, National Defence University
• MP Roderich Kiesewetter, German Bundestag (CDU)
• MEP Michael Gahler, European Parliament (EPP)
• MNA Asia Nasir, National Assembly of Pakistan (JUI-F)
• MP Ernst-Reinhard Beck, German Bundestag (CDU)
• Senator (r) Sayed Hamed Gailani, (NIFA)
• Sayed Ishaq Gailani, Member of the Wolesi Jirga
10:15-11:00 Question & Answer Session

SESSION-II: Media in the region – drivers of conflict or peace?

The Role of the Media in shaping public perceptions

Moderator: Ambassador (r) Ali Sarwar Naqvi
11:00-11:45
Panelists:
• Muhammad Malick, Editor of The News
• MNA Noor Alam Khan, (PPP)
• Dr. Moeed Pirzada, PTV
• Zia-uddin, Editor of Express Tribune
• Hasnain Kazim, Correspondent Spiegel
• Abdul Khalil Meenawy
• MP Shinkai Zahine Karokhail, Member of the Wolesi Jirga
• Ambassador (r) Tanvir Ahmad Khan

11:45-12:30 Question & Answer Session

12:30-13:30 Lunch Break

SESSION-III: Political and Economic Partnership

The Pakistan-EU economic Partnership: Past – Present- Future

Moderator: Dr. Aliya Hashmi Khan, Quaid-i-Azam University
13:30-14:15
Panelists:
• Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, EU
• MP Michael Gahler, European Parliament (EPP)
• Himayat Ullah Khan, AS Eco. Affairs Division
• Mario Sander von Torklus, German Chancellery
• Minister of State Sheikh Waqqas Akram (PML-Q)
• Minister of State Dr. Nadeem Ehsan (MQM)
• MNA Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan (PPP)
14:15-15:00 Question & Answer Session

SESSION-IV: Regional Integration

Regional cooperation as a game changer - Lessons to be learnt from Europe?

Moderator: MdB Roderich Kiesewetter
15:00 -15:45
Panelists:
• MP Roderich Kiesewetter, German Bundestag (CDU)
• MEP Michael Gahler, European Parliament (EPP)
• MNA Masood Abbas Khan Khattak (ANP)
• MNA Baligh-ur-Rehman, (PML-N)
• Baryalai Omerzai, AFG Community Rehabilitation Unit
• Sayed Ikram Afzali, Youth in Action Association
• Sayed Mohammad Shah, UNAMA
• MP Gul Badshah Majeedi, Member of the Wolesi Jirga
• MP Sherwali Wardak, Member of the Wolesi Jirga

15:45-16:30 Question & Answer Session

16:30-16:45 Summary of Proceedings by Dr. Ross Masood Husain

16:45-17:00 Vote of thanks by CISS and KAS

20:00 Farewell Reception at KAS

Summing up at the Concluding Session of the conference on “EU-Afghanistan-Pakistan Dialogue: Challenges and Prospects” January, 30, 2012 by Dr. Ross Masood Hussain

It is now time to bring the proceedings of this International conference on “European-Afghanistan-Pakistan Dialogue: Challenges and Prospects” to a close. As your chief Rapporteur, it gives me great pleasure to present herewith a summarized version of a report on the deliberation of the first day of the Conference.

Several learned presentations have been made by panelists comprising a galaxy of academics, intellectuals, journalists, research scholars, parliamentarians and many policy practitioners from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the European Union, all of whom have been assembled here through the joint efforts of the organizers--- the Center for International Strategic Studies of Islamabad and the Islamabad Chapter of the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung of Germany. A distinguished audience has been continuously been in attendance through the four working sessions of the conference, and has exhibited a sustained intellectual interest in this topical and vital issue through a series of lively question-answer sessions that followed the presentations by the panelists. Indeed, the subject matter of the conference generated so much enthusiasm and debate that the Moderators of the working sessions were tempted to make learned comments based on their own inside knowledge and personal experience. From this point of view, the conference has been a resounding success, and my heartiest felicitations are due to Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi, Executive Director General, Center for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad and to Dr. Babak Khalatbari, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islamabad, without whose close collaboration the seminal event would not have been possible.

The welcome address by H.E. Dr. Michael Koch, Ambassador of Germany and the keynote Address by the Chief Guest set the tone and tenor of the Conference. The presentations by the panelists revealed a wide variety of perceptions about the EU-AFPAK relationship. Perceptions are important in the sense that perceptions set goals and reflect the agendas of the future. However they need to be related to the realities of the day and not spring from assumptions that are either faulty or wishful. I am happy to report that the presentations of the panelists at this conference and the comments there on followed this line of approach: they took stock of options and objectives, discarded the clichés of the past, looked forward to a brighter EU-AFPAK relationship. Given the several decades-old track record of a relatively tension free relationship, speakers explored and assessed the possibilities of transforming this relationship, currently based mainly on trade and development, to one of a strategically focused partnership, embracing not just trade and development, but also security, democratic governance, humanitarian assistance, and regional-cum-global strategic issues. My heartiest felicitations to all participants who have advocated this broad approach at the Conference.

The theme of the conference was neatly structured into four sub-themes, namely, (1) Regional Security in the context of International Perspectives on Afghanistan and Pakistan until 2014 and beyond; (2) The Role of the Media in Shaping Public Perception in the context of being the drivers of either Conflict or Peace; (3) the Pakistan – EU political and Economic Partnership in the context of the past, present and future; (4) Regional Integration in the context of regional cooperation acting as a game changer based on the lessons learnt from the European experience. Each of these sub-themes were allotted a full Working Session. The presentations by the panelists (8-9 per session) ranged over a wide spectrum of issues, thus triggering an equally broad spectrum of opinions. Concerns were expressed about the impact of the end-game in Afghanistan on the security environment of the AF-PAK region and the challenges that terrorism (as a common enemy of both) poses to the security and stability of Pakistan and Afghanistan which are conjoint twins bound by a common destiny. Panelists from EU reiterated the resolve of the international community not to abandon Afghanistan after 2014 but rather to play a vital role in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region. A leading panelist from Afghanistan emphasized that the ongoing peace negotiation with the Taliban could only succeed if it is Afghan-led, with all other stakeholders (domestic, regional and extra regional including and, in particular, Pakistan) taken fully onboard the reconciliation process. In between, panelists came up with their own recipes for a solution of the Afghan Conflict.

The session on the media stressed the important role that the media in both countries had to play in this regard but felt that there was a need for the media to break through the barriers of officialdom and focus on truthful exposition of problems and issues without fear or favour. The media in both Pakistan and Afghanistan should not be slaves to official policy but rather cooperate to sponsor joint campaigns for the promotion of faith, amity, goodwill and understanding among the peoples of the region. There was a loud objection by one of the panelist to what he felt was the unfair bracketing by the western media of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the single term “AFPAK”. The sessions of Pakistan – EU political and economic cooperation and regional integration recounted some of the major and outstanding developments over the last decades in Pakistan‘s trade relations with the EU, emphasizing the fact that Pakistan’s trade with the EU amounted to around 27% of the total volume of its trade. Panelists felt that there was a need to broaden the scope of this cooperation to include security and strategic issues. There a general feeling that there was a woeful lack of a regional community consciousness which could be brought about by cooperating and learning from the experience of the EU.

How do the participants of the Conference see the European Union? What makes this finest example of regional integration so astonishingly unique to them? To some participants, one face of Europe displays diversity, to other, the European Union reveals basic common values and a striving for unity. On the one side is seen disparate family of nations embracing many different cultures; on the other hand, a desire to develop common identity, to make Europe “European” but without succumbing to the colorless uniformity of “Europeans”. The recent history of Europe is not just a history of wars--- as it has been for several generations who lived through them as victors or vanquished --- nor is it a history of division or outside dominance, the last vestiges of which are now being dismantled. For, Europe has always been a place of peaceful encounters and multiple exchange between peoples, and this shared experience is as much at the root of European integration as the realization that a community is more than the sum of its members. Many of the conditions now taken for granted in the European Union--- peace, open borders, relative prosperity--- have never been a part of the natural order of things before.

As participants see it, the guiding principle of the EU --- democracy, pluralism, the rule of law and social progress--- have made their influence felt both near and beyond its borders. The dynamics of the integration process in the Western Europe were undoubtedly a factor in the economic and political changes that have taken place in the Central and Eastern Europe. It also has obligations to the nations bordering the Mediterranean and to the African, Caribbean and Pacific states that are party to the Lome Convention. In Asia, Latin America, indeed throughout the world, it is much sought after as a partner. It plays a major role in securing the freedom of world trade, acts to mediate in the North-South conflict, stands up for human rights, and is bringing pressure to bear the world-wide for the protection and the conservation of the environment. For, despite publically articulated apprehensions to the contrary, the European Union does not see itself as a closed society. It is not inward-looking or “Euro-centric”, because it consciously tried to dispel the image that it would eventually become a fortress. The European Union harbors no innate enmities: to it, hegemony is an alien concept.

What then would one say as being the general sense of the Conference? The general sense is that the time is opportune for member countries of the AFPAK region to resolve their differences, to strengthen the role of civil society and, in the face of common challenges, to engage themselves singly and jointly in meaningful dialogues with each other and with the European Union, with the objective of drawing up strategies for intensified cooperation in the commercial, economic, financial, scientific, technological, industrial, environmental, humanitarian and security fields and in matters related to democratic development. To accelerate the process, the European Union could be requested to extend a helping hand in the resolution of controversial issues (like Kashmir) that divide the countries of the region. A synergistic and holistic effort is called for that will involve not only the officials of the bureaucracy but also academics, civil society, the print and electronic media and parliamentarians. A good beginning in the pursuance of this approach has been made with the convening of this conference, which has set the stage for the countries of the AFPAK region to look ahead to the prospect of cooperating with and learning from the experiences of the European Union. Expeditious follow-up action is the need of the hour.

Publication series

Event Reports

published

Pakistan, January 30, 2012

Botschafter Michael Koch
KAS & CISS
EU Ambassador
Rapporteur
audience

Contact

Dr. Babak Khalatbari

Head of the KAS office in Pakistan