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Our Correspondent

The News International

Published Date: Apr 25, 2020

COVID-19 reminder to revive Pak-Afghan dialogue for peace

Islamabad: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has highlighted the importance of peace and cultivating broader cooperation for the development at societal level though enhanced people-to-people contacts and sustained parliamentary level exchanges. The people on both sides of the border of tired of the jingoistic environment and want peace to flourish in order to realizing the investment in healthcare and infrastructure development.

These thoughts were shared by experts, including diplomats, social and peace activists and journalists, during an online policy dialogue titled ‘Necessity of Revival of Afghanistan-Pakistan Dialogue in Shadow of the Corona Epidemic’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Friday.

Director of Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit Dr Orzala Nemat, while presenting an overview of stability in Afghanistan, said peace in Afghanistan remained evasive as after a short interval of peace resulted by US-Taliban deal, 2,417 acts of the violence had been reported in the last five weeks.

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

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. He said that while talking about peace and stability in Afghanistan, 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 of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Kabul Office, said the people-to-people contact and academic exchanges could play key role in enhancing mutual cooperation in different areas. She, however, said the civil society felt threatened and intimidated by the forces of violence, so such positive overtures that we have seen from the both sides of the border were getting weakened.

Analyst Taimur Shamil said the power struggle between the different political parties in Afghanistan is also hurting the peace process in addition to some negative external influences. He said the leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan, for the best interest of the people, need to engage themselves in positive dialogue.

“The development at the grassroots should be focused and such cooperation has the potential to lead us towards the sustainable process in the region,” he said. Former Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Janan Mosazai said the areas of cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan should be identified.

He said Pakistan has a significant role in pushing forward the development cooperation, especially through trade transit and free flow of goods in the region to promote peace. Independent analyst Ammara Durrani said 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,” she said. Visiting fellow of SDPI Dr Fatemah Kamali highlighted the importance of enhanced people to people contact and strengthening the trade and said that the people of both the countries have a shared future and thus need to work together to realise it.