Lahore : An expanded commitment to peace and security in the region, the role of media in fostering this goal, border management, and refugees were the top items on the agenda of the first meeting of the second phase of Beyond Boundaries, 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).
The series brings together from both countries prominent journalists, civil society activists, former diplomats, parliamentarians, academicians, former members of law enforcement and scholars as part of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Committee (PAJC) for Beyond Boundaries phase II. The Pakistani contingent comprised Dr. Shoaib Suddle, Maj. Gen. (retd) Ejaz Awan, Ambassador Mian Sanaullah, Muhammad Tahir, and MNA Shazia Marri, while the Afghan delegation comprised Sayed Ishaq Gailani, Mozammil Shinwari, Wazhma Frogh, Palwasha Hassan, Ketabullah Khpolwak Sapai, and Elay Ershad. The workshop was chaired by Dr. Rasul Baksh Rais.
Speaking at the session, Elay Ershad, Member of the Oolasi Jirga (lower house of parliament) said every Pakistani and Afghan one is part of a puzzle which will be complete only if all of us work together. She said that members of media and the civil society should not resonate their respective government’s positions. We should come out of that mindset and propose our own independent thinking.
Dr. Rasul Baksh Rais, eminent professor at LUMS, said that initiatives such as Beyond Boundaries are extremely important in a difficult geo-political environment and in view of the complicated bilateral relations. Governments usually lack vision, courage, and readiness for change and therefore it is the job of independent thinkers and think tanks to redirect the bilateral relationship.
Syed Ishaq Gailani, a former MP and presidential candidate, bemoaned the latest visa restrictions such as no permission for entry into Cantonment areas as well as the treatment being meted out to the Afghan refugees.
While discussing various themes of bilateral importance, the group deliberated on a list of policy recommendation for both governments, which are as under.