Afghanistan-Central Asia Dialogue calls for building mutual trust

By Najibullah


Shown are participants in the fourth 'Afghanistan-Central Asia Dialogue,' which took place in Bamiyan July 14-15. [Courtesy of Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies]

KABUL -- The fourth round of the Afghanistan-Central Asia Dialogue wrapped up last week in Bamiyan, revealing that regional and international peace might more easily be found by getting to know neighbours than by fearing them.

The conference, organised by the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS), took place July 14-15.

Representatives from at least 10 countries and international bodies -- including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, India and Pakistan -- discussed the "Nexus of Geo-Politics and Terrorism".

Afghanistan's neighbours, particularly those from Central Asia, fear Afghanistan because of inadequate familiarity with Afghan issues, said AISS Director Daoud Moradian.

The first step that the conference aimed to achieve was to provide a venue for better acquaintance among regional countries and for alleviation of Central Asian countries' misgivings towards Afghanistan, he told Salaam Times.

Regional countries can play a positive role in harbouring peace and security in Afghanistan, he said, adding that more-accurate awareness of one another's affairs will build mutual trust and co-operation.

Terrorism remains the main regional challenge, said Afghan government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on the first day of the conference.

Terrorists active in Central Asian countries share the same goals with those active in Afghanistan -- undermining security and inflicting damage to the Afghan people and government, as well as to the governments and peoples of their own countries, he said.

"Afghans are on the front line in fighting terrorism and have endured massive suffering," Abdullah said. "Central Asian countries must work together to stop terrorism."

He urged participants to take home a message of "balancing co-operation in the war" and emphasised Afghanistan's deep historic, cultural and spiritual ties with Central Asian counties.

No difference between militants

The Taliban, the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are all enemies of the people, Abdullah told participants at the conference.

"Differentiating between good and bad terrorists ... is not correct. From our point of view, there is no difference between terrorists," he said.

Bushra Gohar, senior vice-president of Pakistan's Awami National Party, who attended the conference, echoed those sentiments.

"If we let our soil be used by insurgent groups among whom there is no good (terrorists) and bad (terrorists), they will use our soil (for their own interests)," she said, according to TOLO News.

Bamiyan Governor Mohammad Tahir Zuhair called for enhanced regional co-operation.

"We cannot achieve security alone; it is an achievement that can be gained jointly, and its absence will affect the region and the world," he said according to TOLO News.

The Afghanistan-Central Asia Dialogue aims to promote mutual understanding and practical solutions in the areas of political dialogue, security co-ordination, economic co-operation and cultural exchanges, according to AISS.

The first round took place in Kabul in December 2013, followed by the second in Kabul in December 2014 and the third round in Mazar-e-Sharif in December 2015.

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