KABUL, Afghanistan, July 7, 2015 – Mature, bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan could be a key marker for a prosperous Afghanistan. By all indications, stable cooperation between the two nations will likely serve as an important component for the country’s security long after the NATO mission in Afghanistan is gone. Few international organizations know that better than the Headquarters Resolute Support Tripartite Joint Operations Center here.
Working daily with Afghan and Pakistani liaison officers assigned to Resolute Support, or RS, there are several critical, recurring meetings bridging the divide between these strategically important neighbors.
One such meeting was a one-star tripartite conference in late May. It laid critical groundwork for standardized training, information sharing and chartered a clear milestone-driven agenda for future interaction between Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said. Italian Brig. Gen. Giovanni Parmiggiani, RS’s deputy director, chief of staff for operations, hosted and led participants through a myriad of speakers with diverse talking points that allowed attendees to tackle the subjects of counter-improvised explosive device defense training, potential concurrent operations, bilateral cooperation and information sharing in the coming months.
With the NATO mission in Afghanistan evolving and transitioning, the principals worked to establish mutual support in the fight against what both Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani recently described as a “common enemy” in their first meeting in Afghanistan in May.
The RS tripartite conference was a major stepping-stone for future success in regional affairs and a powerful enabler for more robust cooperation against terrorist activity along the Afghanistan and Pakistan border, officials said.
Parmiggiani highlighted the critical nature of migrating AF-PAK relations to bilateral vice trilateral.
“NATO allies and associates continue the relationship with Afghanistan through (the) non-combat Resolute Support mission to train, advise and assist the (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces). The Afghanistan-Pakistan military-to-military relationship has intensely progressed since Afghan President Ghani took office, and it is clear that security in Afghanistan and Pakistan are linked,” said Parmiggiani. “In the future, as the NATO mission in Afghanistan continues to evolve, civilian and international institutions will play a much greater role as well as the two countries transition to military-to-military bilateral relations.”
A second forum is the bi-monthly International Issues Forum, most recently held June 24. Several national embassies, international organizations and military commands attended. The genesis behind the forum is to bring together both civilian and military organizations to discuss the mission of their respective organizations, highlight recent accomplishments and impediments and discover potential avenues for cooperation. The event included a briefing from the United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime as well as a case study presented by the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.
The International Issues Forum is open to myriad international organizations, both civilian and military, and is a natural conduit for cooperation for interested parties throughout the Kabul. Venues such as this are helping to lay the groundwork for cooperation and success in the coming months and years, officials said.
Finally, a recurring monthly one-star tripartite operations and intelligence briefing was held June 27 at RS headquarters. This monthly meeting brings one-star level representatives together from the Afghan Ministry of Defense and the Pakistan General Headquarters to exchange information as well as discuss issues that have arisen over the previous month. This forum is yet another avenue being used by the operations directorate RS headquarters to foster increased communications, effective training and a smooth transition to firm, bilateral relations between Pakistani and Afghan defense and security representatives.
Parmiggiani summarized the efforts as “models to transitioning the current trilateral relationships that are in place now to a permanent, constructive AF-PAK bilateral relationship for the near future.”
“This is not an easy process and it will take time,” Parmiggiani said. “I am hopeful that things will get better because there is a progressively shared understanding that threats on both sides of the border cannot be neutralized without cooperation at the highest political and military levels. RS is confident that the positive dialogue and cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue, developing security on both sides of the border.”