Trilateral Summer School on Regional Integration

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From June 3 to 10, 2012 around 30 young professionals from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Germany came together in Berlin and Wendgräben, Germany, to attend the “Trilateral Summer School on Regional Integration”.

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Around 30 young professionals from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Germany participated in the "Trilateral Summer School on Regional Integration" at Wendgräben Castle.

The Summer School was organized and implemented by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and was conducted as a follow-up of the highly successful “Trilateral Summer School on Security, Stability and Trade” which took place in June 2011 in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The participants belong to various sectors like politics, bureaucracy, media, science and economy. The lectures were delivered by highly renowned experts, among them three former Ambassadors. In total, four speakers were sharing their expertise with the participants of the Trilateral Summer School in five lectures. Moreover, three deans – each of the representing his respective country – moderated the 2nd Trilateral Summer School and shared their expertise during several interactive sessions.

The Summer School was divided in two parts: Firstly, the participants attended lectures followed by a question and answer round at Wendgräben Castle. Focal point was the topic “regional integration”. Moreover, the participants developed policy recommendations for the Afghan, the Pakistani and the German government. Subsequently, several political meetings were conducted in Berlin. Furthermore, participants attended a social-political/cultural tour through Germany’s capital.

Sunday, June 3rd

The Trilateral Summer School participants from Pakistan arrived at Berlin Tegel Airport at about 6:30 pm. They were then taken to the Wendgräben Castle, located about 35 kilometers east of Magdeburg, by bus. The Afghan participants arrived with some delay only at 11:00 pm at Wendgräben Castle.

Monday, June 4th

After taking in breakfast, everyone came together in the Konrad-Adenauer-Saal at 9:00 am. Dr. Babak Khalatbari, Resident Representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung to Pakistan, then started the official kick-off by welcoming all the participants. He expressed his pleasure that many people from the 1st Trilateral Summer School also joined in the 2nd Trilateral Summer School on the topic of “Regional Integration”. He stated that it is people who make processes work and therefore building up a network between people must stand in the center of any process. He then handed over to Mr. Tinko Weibezahl, Resident Representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung to Afghanistan. Mr. Weibezahl first introduced himself and afterwards this year's three deans: Senator (rtd) Sayed Hamed Gailani, who has been engaged in Afghan politics for many decades and is a “vital part of the current process”; Dr. Ross Masood Husain, who is the founder of the Institute for Strategic Studies, a well known Pakistani think tank; and, representing the German side, Mario Sander von Torklus, who works in the German Federal Chancellery as an advisor on global issues, United Nations and development policy. The “kick-off” was followed by a short round of introductions.

Then the three deans each gave a short comment to this year's topic: Dr. Husain started off by giving a short overview of the history of the European Union which in his opinion is the finest example of regional integration and worth being aware of when talking about regional integration in Southern Asia. He then turned to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which is not nearly as developed; especially the SAARC charter seems to be flawed due to several compromises. But he also acknowledged that without these compromises there might not have been a regional institution at all and therefore one should be grateful and try to continue from the current status.

Sen. Gailani emphasized the importance of bringing the two people of Afghanistan and Pakistan together in order to make a regional integration even possible. He saluted Germany and especially the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung for undertaking this effort. He then expressed his people's hope for peace and political tranquility.

Mr. v. Torklus stated that when entering into a regional cooperation one also has to implement policy that enables the societies to be competitive; only thus both societies may profit from the cooperation. Also for a serious political and economical integration it is eventually too narrow to focus only on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirdly he made quiete clear that Western engagement – however much money and effort is spent – cannot replace national policy and ownership by the Afghan and Pakistani people.

After these remarks the first speaker, Ambassador (rtd.) Dr. Gunther Mulack, a former German ambassador to Pakistan who also lectured at the 1st Trilateral Summer School was given the floor to speak on “Pakistan's Problems and Prospects – A German Perspecitve”. Dr. Mulack covered a wide array of topics. He started off by pondering about whether parts of the Pakistani military or the ISI knew about Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts. He then described the strategic position of Pakistan within South-Asia, thus making clear the importance of stabilizing Pakistan for the entire region of South Asia. By pointing out the enormous population growth of Pakistan, he demonstrated how vital education is for Pakistan. He then expressed his grief that money is rather being spent on further development of nuclear weapons than on schools – so far proper education is possible for the elite only. Also he pointed out the importance of solving the conflict between India and Pakistan which in his opinion is the key for solving several issues and allowing the civil authorities to gain control. In addition, this would make an enormous amount of trade possible from which both people could profit.

Dr. Mulack then turned to the social-political structures which he found flawed in many ways: The elite is too strong whereas there is almost no middle class. Appointments within the administration are not based on the candidates' merits but on relations instead. Also there is a rising influence of Wahhabism in southern Punjab and northern Sindh. This is mainly brought in by Pakistani workers returning from Saudi Arabia. Concurring to this there is a constant rise of anti-Americanism. Dr. Mulack did especially not shy back from showing his discontent with the political elite of Pakistan. He expressed his strong desire for new faces showing up in politics and noticed with pleasure that some of the participants are politicians and have “new faces”.

After this discussion lunch was served. Immediately thereafter the second speaker gave his speech on “Afghanistan's Challenges and Prospects – a German Perspective”. Ambassador (rtd.) Dr. Rainald Steck was German ambassador to Afghanistan in 2004. He started off by giving a short historical overview of the international engagement as well as the situation preceding 2001. He divided the 11 year span of the NATO engagement into two periods: the first stretching from 2001 – 2006 might be considered as a time of improvement, especially when considering the low number of attacks on international troops. In 2006 things started changing for the worse, the number of attacks increased. Only lately a slight improvement can be noted. Dr. Steck expressed his hope this might be the beginning of a new period of improvement.

He then outlined some achievements that have been made: the GDP per capita was raised to approximately 900 US-Dollars; 6 million children attend schools these days, one third of them being girls – considering the lack of education before 2001 an important achievement; moreover, the birth death rate had decreased dramatically; improvements can also be made out regarding the water supply system as well as health in general. Finally, hindering al-Qaida from executing further terrorist attacks was achieved.

Dr. Steck then turned to a series of problems which have not been solved. He explained the German approach of concentrating on quality instead of on quantity when it comes to training police officers. He regretted that this focus is not shared by all countries engaged in training police forces. Also he stated that not the local but the national police force should be supported. With the local police forces the danger would be that they often fall back on taking orders from the local warlords. Next, Dr. Steck came to the problem of corruption which hampers any governmental activity. He regretted that there is no proper anti-corruption law. Lastly he turned to the matter of the human rights. He stated that still a lot needs to be done, especially when it comes to the matter of gender equality.

During the discussion there was strong support for Dr. Steck's opinion that local police should not be supported. One participant described them as “the second layer of the warlords' forces”. A German participant wanted to know where Germany can be more engaged. Dr. Steck answered that Germany should do more in education.

After this second speech a short tea break was taken, followed by a discussion moderated by the deans. The participants entered into a lively debate with each other about the two lectures given, various topics were discussed. Afterwards supper was served.

Tuesday, June 5th

The first session on Tuesday morning started with a slight delay at 9:15 am. First, the deans gave a short introduction to the concept of regional integration; this as well as the following discussion was moderated by Dr. Khalatbari. Several thumb rules were given on the matter of entering into so called Regional Integration Agreements (RIA). Dr. Husain explained the importance of so called “soft integration” which means that one should focus on creating an enabling environment, thus allowing economic exchange to even take place. He analyzed six stages of economic integration – once again by showing up the parallels to the EU. Mr. v. Torklus added that there also has to be a “stage zero” in which the governments of the countries decided to really want regional integration. Unfortunately there seems to be a lack of political will within the elites.

Then the discussion turned to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Dr. Khalatbari explained that – in difference to the European Union – there exists no commission within SAARC which works as “the brain” of the organization. SAARC does not even have staffers of its own, not even the name of SAARC has a copyright protection. This all shows the very bad shape SAARC currently is in. Dr. Husain defended SAARC, admitting that it does need improvement but stating that it is a start and one should be thankful for having reached at least something.

Subsequently, the third speaker, Ambassador (rtd.) Dr. Karl Fischer, was introduced. The topic of his speech was “Integration in Asia - Challenges of ASEAN and SAARC”. He explained that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which was founded in 1967 (the so called Bangkok-treaty) is more successful. The organization is more open and economically more vibrant which makes it interesting to the world. By this economic success the members are drawn together as a unity. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), however, which was founded only in 1985, is still coping with many internal problems. The members feel a lot of distrust towards each other, this goes especially for the relation between India and Pakistan. Therefore it is difficult to achieve any results. Dr. Fischer explained that especially the SAARC charter makes it difficult to discuss urgent matters and to take any decision. This is due to the fact that for any action to be undertaken, unanimity is required. Hence, controversial political issues (such as the Kashmir conflict) are not discussed. Center piece of SAARC therefore is the South Asian Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA). Unfortunately so far only a mere 4% of these countries' exports occur within SAPTA. Dr. Fischer explained that another problem with SAARC is that – unlike in ASEAN – the countries are asymmetrical in their strength: three out of four people live in India, thus making the country the undisputed power within SAARC. The smaller members therefore feel pressured. Trust building measures are desperately required.

Also, most of the members need to make their economies more competitive. Dr. Fischer explained that some countries within SAARC oppose free trade. These countries say that free trade would swamp their markets with foreign goods and thus harm the economy; more preparation time is needed. Dr. Fischer explained that free trade eventually serves all the economies as has often been seen in recent history. The lecture on SAARC was followed by several questions of clarification such as the organizational structures. Then lunch was served.

After lunch a lecture on “Regional Integration in Europe – Current Prospects and Challenges” took place. The lecture was given by Dr. Céline Caro, Coordinator for European Affairs at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. She started off with the historical background of the beginnings of the European integration, telling of the situation after World War II and the East-West division of Europe. She then turned to the beginnings of the European integration, starting with the European Steel and Coal Community. She explained that the idea was to combine economic areas in order to rebuild trust between European nations. She then shortly introduced the most important European contracts. Dr. Caro then defined the fundamental principles of the European integration, the so called Monnet method or method of small steps. Firstly, cooperation should start in specific and discrete fields where it is feasible. Secondly, trust and solidarity has to be established between the countries. Only then the integration can be carried to further policy fields. She emphasized that regional integration needs a strong political will from all the stakeholders involved. Moreover, it requires a lot of time and patience.

Dr. Caro then explained the structure of the European Union. Afterwards she turned to current challenges and problems: First and most acute is the monetary crisis in the Eurozone. Secondly, the EU has to figure out how they want to deal with their neighbors in Northern Africa, Turkey and Russia in particular. Thirdly the EU has to think about its enlargement process, especially regarding Turkey. Lastly, the EU has to figure out how the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) can be developed further in the future. Dr. Caro then turned to the prospects of future development. She reflected, whether a “political union” is needed to bring about more coordination on the EU level to make processes more efficient and transparent and especially to make the EU more democratically accountable. With these thoughts she ended her speech. The discussion afterwards mainly focused on Turkey and whether the country is qualified to enter the EU. After the lecture supper was served.

Wednesday, June 6th

The welcoming words on Wednesday morning were spoken by Dr. Husain. He gave a short overview over the past two days. He saluted the German lecturers and remarked that the German government must be well informed by its fine ambassadors.

Then Dr. Fischer gave his second speech on the topic „Afghanistan and Pakistan – Friends or Neighbors?“. Dr. Fischer's presentation gave an overview over the regional developments. His first focus was on agreements concerned with trade. He explained that the trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has increased tenfold over the last decade, although this still only represents a small percentage of what might be possible. Also the Afghan trade transiting through Pakistan has increased threefold. Additionally there is a certain amount of unofficial trans-border trade due to the fact that the border is difficult to monitor because of its mountainous character.

He introduced the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) which was signed in 2011. It opens up several new trade routes for Pakistan to the Central Asian states. It enables Afghan traders to use the Pakistani harbors of Gwadar and Karachi and to trade their goods via Wagah boarder to India. However, it does not allow Indian goods to transit to Afghanistan. Unlike the former treaty on the trade of goods in 1965, the APTTA wishes to establish a common coordination authority. Moreover, there should be a dispute settlement mechanism integrated. Furthermore, it addresses the issue of smuggling for the first time. The APTTA also for the first time fosters competition as the traders are permitted to choose on their contractor for transportation. Dr. Fischer explained that, unfortunately, there is no national concept on infrastructure in Pakistan as every government has developed its own concept which than was dropped half way done as soon as a new government took office.

Dr. Fischer's second focus was on the recently signed Islamabad Agreement, in which the Afghan and Pakistani government stated their satisfaction with the direction the bilateral cooperation has taken. Dr. Fischer agreed on the direction but did mention that not many actual steps in that direction have been taken so far. He noticed that it has become a habit to say many words and to announce many treaties, but follow-ups usually do not occur.

Dr. Fischer then shortly commented on numerous topics. He talked about the tensions that come up within the region when it comes to the matter of building dams to generate hydro electric power. This is due to the fact that many rivers are cross-border rivers. Dr. Fischer stated that this was very unfortunate as there is a high hydro energy capacity in the region and also energy is desperately needed for the industries to work and to allow for a middle class to develop. He then turned to the problem that Pakistan and Afghanistan do not communicate with each other sufficiently.

After the lecture held by Dr. Fischer, Dr. Khalatbari spoke the opening words for the group work. He expressed his satisfaction that the members of the three countries managed “to meet, listen, speak and understand each other”. This was the first step and not easy to achieve. But he also said that this understanding must be materialized now. And this was to happen by discussing and mapping out recommendations to be given to the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Germany regarding the improvement of regional integration. These recommendations should be formulated as policy papers. It followed an instruction on how to formulate a policy paper in general. Each participant received a handout on how to formulate a policy paper which could later on serve as guideline.

Subsequently, the groups were formed. Special care was taken to ensure that in each group members of each nationality were represented equally. Before entering into the group work, the national interests of all three countries in respect to each other were formulated. The main German interests in the matter of Afghanistan are stabilizing Afghanistan politically and economically in order to contain international terrorism, ensuring the credibility of German foreign policy, supporting anti-narcotic policies, deradicalising society and avoiding a big number of refugees who might seek asylum in Germany. In reference to Pakistan the main interest is non-proliferation. Pakistan's main interests are the development of economic strength to even enter into regional cooperation as a competitive and interesting partner, developing a military capacity to face (and deter) India as well as the deradicalization of its society. The Afghan interest in the regional integration was described quite similar.

After lunch the group work began. The three groups - one focusing on each country - started off by analyzing the current situation. Very soon the groups started to discuss the different alternatives to the current national policy of the respective countries. In the process, the participants benefited from the lectures given prior to the group work. Afterwards they formulated concrete recommendations to the three governments and sketched out a plan for implementation. The groups were kept busy throughout the afternoon and early evening. At supper discussions between the different groups took place and many thoughts were exchanged and improved.

Thursday, June 7th

On Thursday, the groups worked on finalizing the policy papers and preparing themselves for the presentations. This took most of the morning. After lunch everyone met in the Konrad-Adenauer-Saal. As the first part of the Summer School was about to be brought to an end, all the deans made some closing remarks.

Dr. Husain noted with pride that a cohesiveness had developed over the past few days. Despite difficulties he therefore foresaw a bright future. This was a far stronger statement than he would have formulated a few years ago. He explained that it is the young people who have not suffered under the Soviets and who had not born the shame of being put into a refugee camp and therefore could enter into a new era. He urged all participants never to enter into a blame game and thus destroy all that has been achieved.

Then Sen. Gailani recalled one of the first come-togethers of Pakistanis and Afghans in 2005. Back then, he said, everyone was in a “fighting position”, constructive debate was almost impossible. Since then tremendous success has come about. He thanked Dr. Khalatbari who had always believed that one day the two people would be able to speak in one voice. Sen. Gailani then spoke his profound gratitude to the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung for hosting a great share of this success.

The last words were spoken by Mr. Weibezahl, who admitted to have been overwhelmed by the amount of friendship and willful cooperation he had seen. He expressed his hope of serving this process in the upcoming years as the resident representative to Afghanistan.

Then it was time to present the group work. The group having worked out the recommendations for the Afghan government was the first to present. The policy paper – titled “An Olive Branch for Regional Integration” – viewed regional integration from five different aspects: From an economic point of view it was suggested to create an enabling environment for bilateral and transit trade and investment to even take place. Focus should be laid on health and medical infrastructure in particular. When it comes to the political point of view exchange should take place not only between parliamentarians, but also between their administrative staff as well as the political parties. For the social aspect people-to-people exchange programs should be supported. Culturally, the positive role of media should be enhanced, for example by mixed media shows and exchange programs for journalists. Moreover, common traditional values should be emphasized. Finally, peace has to be fostered by supporting community based deradicalization projects and by assigning peace ambassadors and peace agents who then, for example, organize sport tournaments for the youth of the three countries to meet.

Then the group having worked out the recommendations for the Pakistani government proceeded. The paper was titled “Pakistan/Afghanistan 2015: Reinforcing friendship”. They pointed out the trust deficit that has arisen between the two countries as the major issue. Focus should therefore be put on trust building measures. Both countries should abstain from interfering into each others internal affairs. Also, both countries should ensure that their soil is not being misused by a third party to destabilize the other country. Positive imperatives included enhancing bilateral cooperation in the field of bilateral trade, transit trade, agriculture, industry, water and energy as well as the health and cultural sector. Most importantly people-to-people contact has to be supported at all levels of society.

Subsequently, the group with the recommendations for the German government presented its results. Firstly, the catch phrase “AfPak” was criticized. Rather a differentiated approach should be taken in: Problems should be dealt with on trilateral basis when possible and on bilateral basis when necessary. They then focused on three aspects: Regarding the security situation they recommended to take an even more sophisticated approach towards the development of the Afghan National Police. As had been discussed the days prior, the focus should be not on the local police. Also, the emphasis should be on quality in training and equipment rather than on quantity. In addition, they recommended to establish a “German international police stand-by unit” which could give a helping hand on short notice. Concerning the political affairs, they suggested to strengthen the formal system of checks and balances in both the systems. Furthermore, a focus should be put on training the parliamentary administrations as they are the most stable element in a parliamentary system of discontinuities. They also recommended to establish a trilateral parliamentarian friendship group between Germany, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Coming to the socio-economic development, they suggested an approach on the single most important source of income of an average Afghan household: agriculture. Furthermore, they recommended to the German government to support trade infrastructure (e.g. roads and border facilities) to enable trade to take place. Concerning Pakistan the focus should be laid on rural areas, where the greatest risk of radicalisation lies. Also, Germany – being an expert on renewable energy – should focus on developing the immense renewable energy capacities of Pakistan. The group recommended results-based aid programmes, giving ex-post payments for achieved results rather than ex-ante payments. This would give strong external incentives for political reform and institutional development. Lastly, they stated that people-to-people contact is imperative and hence, should be supported on all levels of the society.

Dr. Husain then gave a short wrap-up noting that there was a lot of compliance. He concluded that there was a lot of discussion and finally agreement on many issues. Subsequently, all participants were gathered at the fountain in front of Wendgräben Castle to receive their certificates. Subsequently, the participants were transferred to Berlin.

In the evening, a dinner took place at the permanent representation of North-Rhine-Westphalia which was attended by selected invited guests, among them journalists, representatives of the embassies and all speakers. Hence, there was some more chance to debate the lectures of the past days as well as the policy papers.

Friday, June 8th

On Friday morning, the participants were taken to the German Foreign Office. There the group met the German Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dr. Michael Koch, who had been the patron to the 1st Trilateral Summer School the year before. The first words were spoken by him saluting Dr. Khalatbari for his passionate engagement in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Dr. Khalatbari responded by thanking the ambassador for having the group. He then introduced Dr. Husain who gave an overview over the past few days. Then Mathias Koch presented the policy paper for the German government which had been developed the days prior.

The next meeting took place in the offices of the federal presidency where the group came together with the advisor to the president on Central Asia and development policy in general, Mr. Georg Schmidt. Mr. Weibezahl informed the president's advisor on the idea of the Summer School. Then Dr. Husain gave an overview over the past few days, followed by the presentation of the recommendations. Mr. Schmidt was very interested in the participant's opinions and raised several questions.

Afterwards the group was taken to the Potsdamer Platz for lunch. The next meeting took place at the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Dr. Stefan Oswald, Head of Division Afghanistan/Pakistan, welcomed the group. He, too, thanked Dr. Khalatbari as well as Mr. Weibezahl for their engagement. Then Dr. Khalatbari introduced Dr. Husain who outlined the past few days, followed by the presentation of the recommendations by Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal.

After this meeting a guided tour took place at the Bundestag. The participants greatly enjoyed having the opportunity to view the heart of the German democracy. The tour therefore met with great interest.

In the evening there was a reception at the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The newly assigned Ambassador of Pakistan to Germany, His Excellency Abdul Basit, spoke words of gratitude for the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation and the two representatives in particular. He explained that Germany is the biggest European trade partner and the 5th biggest investor in Pakistan, which made Germany an important player.

Saturday, June 9th

Saturday morning the group toke off to the Weidendamm where a boat trip took place. The three hours on the boat were well used to exchange thoughts on the results of the Summer School. The afternoon and the evening were at the participants’ free disposal.

Sunday, June 10th

On Sunday, the participants from Pakistan and Afghanistan were taken to Berlin Tegel Airport. From there they left for their home countries.

Authors

Dr. Babak Khalatbari, Janna Kazim

Publication series

Event Reports

published

Pakistan, July 10, 2012

tss 2012

Contact

Dr. Babak Khalatbari

Head of the KAS office in Pakistan