Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was received in Kabul on 6 April for a landmark visit, his first to the Afghan capital. In talks with President Ashraf Ghani, the two sides agreed on seven principles to finalize the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity.
Ahead of this important visit, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) had the honour to host Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar for a keynote and public debate on 20 March in Berlin.
With his major role in leading dialogue efforts between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hanif Atmar's visit to Germany came at a critical time. It followed an earlier, much-noticed peace conference at the end of February in Kabul, in which the Afghan government made far-reaching offers to the Taliban and other insurgents in an effort to bring all sides to the negotiation table and launch formal talks. For Afghanistan, a country that continues to be plagued by war and frequent terror attacks, a comprehensive political peace process couldn’t be more urgent after almost 40 years of violent conflict.
In a week when the Bundestag voted to extend Germany's contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, Atmar stressed the need for the international community's continued support in helping Afghanistan fight terrorism. "We need to mobilize regional support in addressing this common threat and we must simultaneously pursue a peace and reconciliation as well as counter terrorism strategy," he said. "This will require the cooperation of all neighbouring countries."
Ambassador Markus Potzel, the Federal Government’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, called for continued strategic patience and solidarity with Afghanistan in what has become the longest mission in Germany’s and the international community’s recent history. He expressed concern about the volatile security situation and lacking progress in a number of areas. At the same time, he highlighted achievements made, among others, in education, health care, women’s rights and civil society development summarizing a new report the German government had released on the prospects of Germany’s military and civilian engagement in Afghanistan.
In his opening remarks, Marc Saxer, Head of the FES Department for Asia and the Pacific, put the visit of Hanif Atmar in the context of the foundation’s long-standing regional peace and security activities involving distinguished experts from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Central Asia. FES provides a neutral platform for discussing perspectives and strategies for constructive conflict resolution in Afghanistan and its neighbourhood. With established policy groups of seasoned politicians, senior officials, academics and journalists in Kabul and Islamabad, it supports confidence-building measures and joint projects in the fields of media cooperation, refugees and humanitarian affairs, connectivity and security dialogue.
The event in Berlin was jointly organized by FES, the German Federal Foreign Office and the Berlin-based Centre for International Peace Operations (Zentrum für Internationale Friedenseinsätze, or ZIF). ###
For more information on the work of FES in Afghanistan, contact Resident Representative Mirco Günther.
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