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Pakistani and Afghan Experts Call for mutual Cooperation

Pakistani

KARACHI, JAN 09, (DNA) – The Pakistan government’s decision to extend the period of stay for Afghan refugees in quite welcoming. Tackling trust deficit and improve security situation between Pakistan and Afghanistan is crucial.

The momentum to make terrorist outfits weaker in Pakistan is increasing. Pakistan andAfghanistan should focus on improving the bilateral trade. The media can play a critical role in improving public perceptions on both sides.

The blame-game is the core issue between the two countries and it must be solved. Border management is extremely important to ensure to and fro movement of goods and people between the two countries, and also to monitor terrorists’ movement across the two countries

through porous border. The bilateral issues should be solved be solved in a more holistic manner.

There should not be standstill on bilateral relations. The two countries should cooperate in the fields of security, sports, media, education, arts, and culture for peaceful future. Both countries need to build on the commonalities such as religion, cultural values, food, music, language etc.

These were the notions expressed by the members of Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Committee during their third workshop in Karachi as part of Beyond Boundaries II, a track I.5/II dialogue series undertaken by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in partnership

with Afghan counterpart Women Peace and Security Organization (WPSO) to foster better understanding and cooperation between civil society members of the two neighbors, soothe bitter context and address the trust deficit betweenAfghanistan and Pakistan.

Besides their captive interactions during the workshop, the members also met with the provincial minister of education. Former Ambassador of Sweden to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Ms. Ann Wilkens, while chairing the meeting – as regional expert – between working group members from both sides, said that she was very glad to see the initiatives like Beyond Boundaries aimed at normalizing the bilateral relations.

“Afghanistan and Pakistan had a great potential”, she added. Having served in both countries as ambassador, I love Afghanistan and Pakistan equally and want to see them as friendly neighbours always.

“We must appreciate the efforts of Afghan military which is though still in the process of training but still able to recoil the Taliban attacks. We fear a possible spring offensive and Daesh attacks in 2017. We must also appreciate the increasing momentum in Pakistan to make terrorist outfits weaker”, said Mr. Khalid Pashtoon, Member of Afghan Parliament. He further added that there were no issues between Afghanistan and Pakistan at people to people level. Both countries need to build on the commonalities such as religion, cultural values, food, music, language etc. The main concerns on both sides should be considered to reach an acceptable conclusion.

Mr. Muzammil Shinwari, former Afghan deputy minister for trade and commerce welcomed government of Pakistans’ decision to extend the period of stay for Afghan refugees. “There is a dire need to tackle the longstanding trust deficit and improve security situation between both countries.

The Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) 14-M, Ali Plaza, 2 nd Floor, F8 Markaz, Islamabad, 051-831- 4801-03, [email protected] Both the countries should focus on improving the bilateral trade. The transit trade had also dropped down which can affect the bilateral trade. He thanked Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) initiative for inviting afghan players to Pakistan. He said that the scholarships are very important for improving perceptions at youth level. There should be fair and merit based distribution of these scholarships.”

Ms. Wazhma Frogh, Advisor to Afghan defense ministry said that media can play a key role,

nevertheless, it needs right piece of information to properly serve its purpose of public information and

improving their perceptions. In this regard, the knowledge should be created on and about both sides to

fill the gap and give more fruit for thought to media. She further noted that the experts as part of track 2

dialogues should discuss the issues they can better influence with both governments.

“You cannot defeat terrorism by terrorism”, Ms. Elay Ershad, member of Afghan parliament said while

underpinning the importance of dialogue for peace. Afghanistan is not willing to support any initiative

which is against its national security.

Dr. Shoaib Suddle, former federal tax ombudsman and IGP, said that the blame-game was the core issue

between Afghanistan and Pakistan and it must be solved as the other regional actors try to take

advantage of it. There is positive progress being made on the issue of border management. Border

management becomes extremely important given the movement of goods and people between the two

countries. This is also critical from the point of view of terrorists’ movement across the two countries

through porous border. The main concern on the Pakistan side is Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan

and other regional countries should be independent. The bilateral issues should be solved in a more

holistic manner. The new Pakistani COAS’s conversation with both Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah

is a positive development.

Qazi Humayun, former Pakistani ambassador said that there should not be standstill on bilateral

relations. He informed the meeting that the prime minister of Pakistan urged to explore new avenues of

cooperation with Afghanistan, during a national security meeting recently. “The dialogue about future of

Afghanistan shouldn’t be to its exclusion. Afghanistan’s participation in such dialogues is in its best

interest”, he referred to the Russia-China- Pakistan trilateral meeting in Moscow. He also quoted Sartaj

Aziz that Pakistan wishes to facilitate the transit trade in a focused manner.

“If Pakistan is to be blamed for negatives, it must also be appreciated for the positives”, said Ms. Shazia

Marri, member national assembly of Pakistan while adding that it was time to undo the damages to

bilateral relations and move forward. Both sides should understand the genuine need for cooperation in

security, sports, media, education, arts, and culture for peaceful future.

Mian Sana, former Pakistani ambassador said that mistrust was the core issue between both countries

and demands serious discussions sitting together. The two governments must also immediately resume

their relations. The Moscow meeting was part of the international readjustments/ realignments in the

wake of new world order.

Mr. Tahir Khan, senior Pakistani journalist noted that the media needs an enabling environment to play

its role for peace and perception building which also includes support from the governments.

The points of convergences that resonated with the members from both sides included cooperation in

the fields of sports, health, education, media, visa and arts and culture.

They recommended cooperation opportunities for exchange program on sports especially for girls. They

urged the Pakistani government to simplify and facilitate the visa process for enhanced people to people

The Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS)

14-M, Ali Plaza, 2 nd Floor, F8 Markaz, Islamabad, 051-831- 4801-03, [email protected]

contact and cooperation in the field of health, especially the issuance of visas for patients in emergency

cases at Torkham and Spin Boldak. They also recommended academic scholarships for Afghan students

for educational and vocational programs. Governments and civil society of both countries may

encourage hosting the students for exchange programs. Provincial governments in Pakistan may

consider offering academic scholarships for Afghan students. For cooperation in arts and culture, they

recommended scholarships for artists and exhibitions/ expos of famous trade brands on both sides.

They also suggested cultural and social programs to promote respective cultures.

During the meeting with Pak-Afghan joint committee members, the provincial education minister, Mr.

Jam Mehtab Dahar noted that the two countries should explore the areas of cooperation to improve

their bilateral relations. He shared the initiatives taken by his ministry to improve the provincial

education system with the afghan delegates, especially the monitoring and biometric system to track

the attendance of teachers. The Afghan members said that these initiatives are inspiring examples for us

to replicate.

Mr. Azhar Abbas, MD Geo News, assured full support and cooperation of his organization to reduce the

bitterness, misperceptions and distrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan and also suggested to involve

other media groups for the cause. He also highlighted the importance of digital media as means for

mainstreaming the content of mutual interest.






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