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Express Tribune

Published Date: Jul 20, 2012

Conference: Civil society?s role essential for regional peace and security

Increased
role of civil society in conflict processes is essential as it offers
alternative viewpoints on key strategic and foreign policy issues. These views
were expressed by former ambassador and the Executive Director of Centre for
International Strategic Studies (CISS) Ali Sarwar Naqvi, said a press release.

He was
speaking at a conference on “Conflict Transformation and South Asian Security
Dynamics – Strengthening Role of Civil Society” on Wednesday.

In the
first session, Dr Moonis Ahmar, an eminent scholar on international relations,
examined the theoretical framework of conflict transformation in the context of
South Asian peace and security dynamics.

Dr Rifaat
Hussain of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) highlighted the six contours of
conflict – people, poverty, proliferation of weapons, polarisation, protracted
conflicts and promise for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The second
session covered two key issues in South Asian security dynamics. Dr Zafar Nawaz
Jaspal, also from QAU, while presenting his views on geostrategic landscape of
South Asia, said that the intrastate and interstate conflicts severely
undermine the region’s peace and prosperity.

“The
protracted asymmetrical warfare in Afghanistan and the great powers’ strategic
competition to grab the Central Asian oil and gas resources and steward them to
energy deficient regions negatively contributes towards the region’s strategic
environment,” he said.

The final
session focused on how the civil society can play its role in conflict
transformation. Dr Farzana Bari of QAU said that the civil society has shared
concerns and discourse for transforming conflicts in the region. “Civil society
has new opportunities and challenges to make cross-border linkages due to
development in information technology and communication,” she added.

Jinnah
Institute Executive Director Ejaz Haider pointed out the need to define civil
society, as it was the least understood in terms of the state’s relationship
with society. “There is a necessity to increase the role of civil society for
conflict resolution but the state needs to adapt its role for building a united
narrative rather than a divided front,” he said.

In
conclusion, Naqvi said that the nature of the state could be shaped as desired
by its people. “Pakistanis need not be defensive or apologetic about the state
or its philosophy.”

The
conference was jointly organised by CISS and Friedrich Naumann Foundation.