* Underpin the need of enhanced people-to-people contact, cultural exchanges
ISLAMABAD: Delegates from Pakistan and Afghanistan have expressed a firm resolve to bring peace and prosperity to the region through people-to-people contact and by enhancing interactions between women of both the countries.
Participants of a roundtable conference ‘Way Forward to Bring Peace and Stability Between the Two Neighbouring Countries’ concluded that people of the two neighbouring countries had a long history of suffering due to wars, violence and conflicts and now it was time to join hands for the sustainable peace and to promote trade and economic activities in the region.
The Peace Education and Development (PEAD) Foundation and the Women Development Network (WDN) held the conference. Members of the Pak-Afghan Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PAWFPD) as well as representatives from media, civil society and organisations related to business and trade attended the conference.
PEAD Foundation Executive Director Samina Imtiaz opened the forum to retrieve recommendations of the participants after five days of hectic deliberations and interactions by the members of PAWFPD. She said, “People from both the countries were committed to peace and we need to strengthen the linkages at various levels to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity in the region.”
The participants, including Naheed Farid, member of the Afghan parliament, Najlla Habibyar, CEO at Exports Promotion Agency, Afghanistan and Pakistani delegates Dr Rakhshanda Parveen, Salma Malik and Meraj Hamayun Khan emphasised the importance of media to bridge the gap between the people of the two countries.
The delegates suggested that sports and cultural activities should be enhanced to bring the people closer and redress various kinds of misperceptions about each other. The issues of disabilities resulting from conflict, especially among women also came under discussion and participants stressed the need of efforts aimed at bringing these women into the mainstream.
The participants called for the creation of new linkages by virtue of this forum and said that steps should be taken to encourage women entrepreneurship in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
They also stressed the importance of music and entertainment and its potential to promote the message of peace and harmony. The establishment of women’s think tanks, student exchanges, and business schools for women was also suggested.
The delegates also interacted with the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) MNA Dr Azra Fazal Pechucho, on the occasion, highlighted the role and functioning of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. The members of PAWFPD suggested bringing women to the forefront to engage them in policy making, as they had a crucial role in peace processes.
Earlier, the members of PAWFPD interacted with members of SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry Islamabad, Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry and representatives of various trade bodies and civil society organisations. They explored avenues of mutual cooperation with regard to women empowerment and peace and prosperity in the region.