This Report is the product of the Delhi Policy Group’s Seventh Regional Conference on Peace and Stabilization in Afghanistan, along with a series of bilateral and trilateral discussions, planning visits and interviews conducted over the course of 2015-6. Focused on providing a Track II complement to the ofﬁcial Heart of AsiaIstanbul Process, the regional conference series comprises participants from eleven to thirteen Heart of Asia countries, most of whom have met annually over a period of four years.
2015 was a harsh year for Afghanistan. The insurgency increased, taking 11,000 casualties, higher than the 2014 figure of 10,000, showing a rising curve of attacks and locations. The economy improved marginally but far too little to prevent record flows of refugees; approval ratings for the Government of National Unity plummeted. Regionally, however, several of Afghanistan’s neighbors stepped up economic and security cooperation, including India, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan (the latter with mixed results). Both mega and micro regional connectivity projects have made consistent progress and promise to transform the condition of the region as well as aid Afghanistan to become a regional hub.
As with other Delhi Policy Group’s conference Reports, this Report too is not a consensus document but rather a summary of different participant views and suggestions, with one caveat: participants reaffirmed their commitment to a proposed Regional Compact that was jointly agreed in December 2013. Now published as a separate document, the draft Compact is available on request from the Delhi Policy Group. We hope the Report and its recommendations will be of some use to regional policymakers in the Heart of Asia countries.