January 24-25th, 2022

Background:

In the region, a vacuum has been created by America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Across the region, regional and international actors are forming strategic alliances and multipolar rivalries are emerging. Pakistan’s first national security strategy focuses on geoeconomics and human security, which reflect a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s strategic mindset. In joining the troika plus, Pakistan demonstrates its intention to bring stability to the region and Pakistan.

A two-day extensive brainstorming exercise entitled, Pak-Afghan Relations: Challenges & Opportunities – A Way Forward for Engagements, was conducted by Pak Afghan Youth Forum (PAYF) on 24th and 25th January 2022 to advance Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy. It was a collaborative event hosted by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) and PAYF. A way forward including policy inputs for Pak-Afghan engagement was designed, with observations from relevant ministries, think tanks, policy practitioners from all walks of life participating in the discussions on Governance, Geoeconomics, Geopolitics & Security, Academia, Culture, Religion & Shared Values, and Media.

Discussion Sessions

On Day 1, there were three discussion sessions.

The first session discussed the governance crisis in Afghanistan, the pros and cons of de facto government, the role of internal and external actors, and issues related to leadership, management, and accountability. The session was chaired by Dr. Salma Malik, BoG IRS & BOM PAYF. While others included in the panel where profound panelists include Sen Sitra Ayaz, Secretary-General, International Parliamentarians Secretariat Ambassador Ayaz Wazir, Former High Commissioner to Afghanistan, Fajr Rabia Pasha, CEO PAGE, Suhail Awan, Director Human Development, Ahsan Hamid Durrani, BoM PAYF, Sabah Aslam CEO IICR, Imran Sardar and Research Analyst, IRS  participated and provided views and recommendations.

In the second session, the geoeconomics of Afghanistan was discussed, and the war-broken economy of Afghanistan was a point of focus to overhaul the war-broken economy into a peaceful one. The session was moderated by Dr. Nazir Hussain, Dean Social Sciences, Wah University, and the panelists included Ms. Shandana Gulzar, MNA, Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director, ISSI, Urooj Raza Sayyami, Senior Journalist, Shahid Khan, Senior Coordinator, PAYF, Nabeela Jaffar, Research Analyst, IRS, Brig (R) Saleem Qamar Butt and Dr. Sameerah Imran, Lecturer IR, NDU.

In the third session, the role of geography in affecting geopolitics and security was discussed with an emphasis on existing geographic, ethnocultural, and ethnoreligious fault lines. The moderator of the session was Lt. Gen(R) Naeem Lodhi and the panel was comprised of Ihsan Ghani, Former( DG NACTA), Brig (R) Rashid Wali Janjua, President IPRI, Brig (R) Said Nazir, IPS, Dr. Saif ur Rehman Malik, Director India Study Center, ISSI, Syed Muhammad Ali, Director CASS, Taimur Shamil, Senior Research Fellow, IPRI, Fraz Naqvi, Assistant Research Officer, IRS, Gul Dad, Director Research, PICSS, Saima, Aman Sial, Associate Lecturer DSS, QAU, Iftikhar Firdous, Senior Journalist & Counterterrorism Expert.

During day two, there were three more panel discussions.

The fourth session of the series Academics; Intelligentsia and Youth Diplomacy – Prospects for Pak Afghan Cooperation. Dr. Rifaat Hussain Professor, School of Social Sciences & Humanities, NUST and the profound panelists include Dr. Shabana Fayyaz, HoD Defence & Strategic Studies, QAU, Dr. Husnul Amin, Chairperson Political Science, IIUI, Dr. Shahid Afirdi, Associate Professor IR, NDU, Dr. Aamer Raza, Associate Lecturer, Peshawar University, ISSI, Sajid Iqbal, Lecturer, NUML and Aarish Ullah Khan, Editor, IRS.

The fifth session discussed History, Cultural, and Shared Values; Corridors of communication: How to Explore Shared Values through Culture and History. The discussion was focused on the social and cultural aspects of public life from both sides, as well as the way forward. The session was chaired by Dr. Qibla Ayaz, Chairman, Council of Islamic Ideology, and the panelists included Amb. Najm us Saqib, Barrister Saif, SACM-KP on Information, BoM PAYF, Naeema Khishwar, MPA KP, Prof. Tahir Naeem Malik, NUML, Israr Madni, President IRCRA, Habib Paracha, Film Producer, Hollywood, Shazia Ismat Zaidi, Educationist/Philanthropist, Puruesh Chaudhry, CEO Mishal Pakistan/ Agahi, Asif Khan, Senior Sports Journalist, Dr. Rashid Ahmad, IR Dept. NDU, Khurram Elahi, PIDE, and Amna Abbasi, Research Officer, IRS.

The sixth session dealt with media; news as folklore: digital diplomacy, media management, and opportunities for Pakistan. Variables that helped in the ingression of the Indian narrative among the Afghans against Pakistan were also discussed. The session was chaired by Hassan Khan, Senior Broadcast Journalist and the panelists include Ayaz Gul, VOA (Voice of America), Sumaira Khan, Senior Journalist, and Afghan Expert, Aqeel Yousufzai, Senior Anchor Person at Khyber News, Syed Waqas Shah, Senior Anchor Person at Khyber News, Kaiwan Hamid Raja, Director Communication and P&D AVT Channels, Mehmood Jan, Journalist BBC, Rehmat Mehsud, Arab News, Sheraz Khan, Radio FM 101. Host Current Affairs Show, Talha Ahad, CEO The Centrum Media, Iqra Ashraf, DTE. of Strategic Communications, MOFA (Observer), Shahid Khan, Senior Coordinator for Afghanistan, PAYF and  Laraib Farhat, Asst. Research Officer, IRS.

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