Our world has seen several wars and conflicts in last few years. These conflicts have caused immense destruction that has resulted into massive humanitarian crisis. Pakistan is one of the many countries that has borne the brunt of the ongoing regional and international conflicts. The war in Afghanistan has affected Pakistan directly and indirectly. It has caused much harm to regional peace and stability. But that is not the only conflict that is keeping South Asia unstable. The humanitarian crisis in Kashmir has the tendency to become one of the flash points in South Asia. To address these conflicts and other areas in which cooperation among states has become indispensable, ‘Margalla Dialogue’ is being arranged by Islamabad Policy Research Institute in Islamabad. The Dialogue will be a pioneer flagship initiative; Track-1.5 planned to be held annually in Pakistan. The event will cover areas of peace and development within the region of South Asia, Middle East and Central Asia, with focus on Pakistan-related issues.

Dialogues worldwide are held to address the issues of critical importance. Shangri-la Dialogue, Manama Dialogue, International Security Forum are to name a few. The idea of holding such dialogues is to bring forth the solution to critical issues and to generate an intellectual and informed discussion. Margalla Dialogue is one such initiative. Dialogue primarily aims to invite top policy makers, multifarious leading experts, to discuss a wide range of issues relating to peace and development.

Pakistan’s predicament is primarily due to its geostrategic location at the convergence of the three important regions. South Asia, Middle east and Central Asia (SAMECA) faces problems, such as border and territorial disputes, social unrest caused by reassertion of ethno-linguistic and religious identities, refugees and internally displaced populations, cross-border networks of militants, drug and small arms proliferation, energy and water crisis, and conventional arms buildup, etc. These challenges tend to spill over across the territorial boundaries of an individual country and affect the overall region.

SAMECA offers considerable potential of economic cooperation to eradicate issues like poverty, unemployment and radicalization in the region. Some of the mega economic projects like Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), Central Asia-South Asia power project (CASA-1000), Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline, rail and road corridors connecting these regions could not materialize due to deteriorating interstate relations. The SAMECA possesses great geo-strategic and geopolitical significance. It forms and includes the Eurasian heart land within which Pakistan is a natural bridge and a linkage conduit, therefore a major player. Pakistan forms the core of this triad and the mega developmental projects may not fructify without Pakistan’s involvement.

There is a pressing need to institutionalize a comprehensive regional response to the peace and developmental challenges facing the SAMECA region by working out plausible solutions and identifying the methods that help to eradicate or mitigate such threats. Pakistan’s point of view on various peace and development issues within the region ought to be highlighted through candid exchange of views with other regional countries, for which the Margalla Dialogue will provide a platform in a nonpartisan environment.

To discuss important issues related to peace and development in SAMECA exploring avenues of cooperation for shared prosperity and stability. Objectives of the Margalla Dialogue are:

1. To generate a high quality credible debate on subjects under discussion, with a view to create awareness and educate wider audience through extensive projection of Pakistan’s well deliberated regional and global policies.

2. To afford a platform to enabling and stimulating academic and policy debate on issues pertaining to peace and development mainly within the SAMECA region and beyond.

3. To solicit perspective of foreign policy experts on some of the critical matters as they relate to Pakistan.

4. To showcase to the international community Pakistan’s intrinsic potential to become a hub for regional connectivity and cooperation.

5. To provide opportunity for networking between policy makers of various countries in order to create a better understanding about various issues affecting the world in general and Pakistan in particular.

6. To provide opportunities to different stakeholders such as top policy makers in government institutions, scholars, representatives of multilateral forums and business sector to debate on a diverse range of issues in order to seek workable solutions.

International trends are turning in Pakistan’s favor. Once again the window of economic, financial and geo-strategic opportunity is there for Pakistan. We need the right kind of policies that tap the potential of our people. It is being hoped that such intellectual activities like Margalla Dialogue can pave the way for actionable steps and contextualized policies to further this goal. In the globalized world, there is a greater sense of building bridges and creating alliances in nation states which brings a lot of them together, for a shared perspective of growth and progress. The more frequently these meetings are taking place and the more stakeholders are involved in these dialogues, the clearer is the collective vision of regional prosperity. It is high time that such platforms can be expeditiously employed to reap maximum benefits.