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Diplomatic News Agencies

Published Date: Apr 25, 2020

COVID-19 a reminder to revive Pak-Afghan dialogue

ISLAMABAD: (APRIL 23 (DNA) -– The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of peace and cooperation, which is necessary for development at societal level through enhanced people-to-people contacts and sustained parliamentary level exchanges. People on the both sides of the border are tired of the jingoistic environment and want peace to flourish in order to promote investment in healthcare and infrastructure development.

These views were expressed by diplomats, peace activists, and political analysts at an online policy dialogue titled: ‘Necessity of Revival of Afghanistan-Pakistan Dialogue in Shadow of the Corona Epidemic’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Friday.

Dr Orzala Nemat, Director of Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), while presenting an overview of current situation in Afghanistan, said that peace in Afghanistan remains evasive as after a short interval of peace as a result of US-Taliban deal, 2,417 acts of violence have been reported during the last five weeks.

“It is unfortunate that even the occurrence of deadly pandemic coronavirus could not deter the ongoing violence, causing humanitarian disaster for a country of 35 million people that lack basic facilities, including the healthcare services.”  Therefore, she said, it’s high time for the civil society to come out and play its vibrant role in establishing peace in Afghanistan.

Mr Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s former ambassador in Afghanistan, said the US-Taliban agreement is the stepping-stone towards the peace process in the country. Talking about peace and stability in Afghanistan, he said: “we must keep the vested interest, especially of drug mafia in mind that is beneficiary of the violence.” He said that people in the two countries need to talk to each other not to blame but to understand and support each other to bring the stability in Afghanistan.

Dr Ellinor Zeino, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), Kabul Office, said that the people-to-people contact and academic exchanges could play a key role in enhancing mutual cooperation in different areas. However, the civil society feels threatened and intimidated by the forces of violence and thus, such positive overtures that we have seen from the both sides of the border, are getting weakened now, he maintained

Mr Taimur Shamil, analyst and anchor, said that the power struggle between different political parties in Afghanistan is also hurting the peace process in addition to some negative external influences.  He said that the leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan, for the best interest of the people, need to engage themselves in positive dialogue. He further said that the development at  grass roots level should be focused and such cooperation has the potential to lead us towards the sustainable process in the region.

Mr Janan Mosazai, former Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, said the areas of cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan need to be identified.   “Pakistan has a significant role in pushing forward the development cooperation, especially through transit trade and free flow of goods in the region to promote peace.”

Ms Ammara Durrani, Independent Analyst, said that the conversation now needs to go beyond the traditional security to a human security paradigm. The element of human development and empowerment is missing in the mutual engagement and it’s the key issue to be redressed while focusing on the development.