PAYF aims to replicate the honesty and participation of the traditional Jirga thorough its Youth Jirga series; bringing youth on a level platform with relevant officials so that issues can be openly discussed. The first youth Jirga was on October 9th in Islamabad. The jirga was open and comfortable, with people speaking in their preferred languages. The crux of the Pashto and Dari statements were given in English by the moderator to ensure that everyone understood.
The goal of this event was to have a participatory discussion on what role the youth of Afghanistan and Pakistan have in maintaining cordial relations between the countries. As this was the first, preliminary session, the event had a webinar element to it, with youth who are active members of Afghanistan’s civil society, joined in as panelists from Afghanistan to candidly share their views on the subject. The panelists were Ahmad Zia Momand, Suhaila Aasa Koohi, Obaidullah Ibrahimi, Feroz Ghafarzai, Sibghatullah Shakir, Syed Hussain Anosh, Farzana Hakeemi, and Abdul Naweed Yousufi. The session was moderated By Ahsan Durrani, one of PAYF’s esteemed mentors.
There was an overwhelming appreciation of the cause and its role in the mutual prosperity of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ideas were shared on how the youth can actively counter negative stereotypes and misinformation spread through various sources, to promote a healthy relationship between the two very similar communities. However, as it was a space for openness, there were concerns raised as well. Pakistan’s efforts in facilitating the peace process were acknowledged but so were the issues at the border, ranging from visa issues to smuggling, as well as crime and corruption. It was highlighted that to truly facilitate peace and improve relations, the youth can only do so much; the Pakistani government would have to ensure a strict crackdown to curb such issues
The keynote speaker and Pakistani minister Shahryar Afridi concluded the Jirga by emphasizing how close the Pakistani and Afghan cultures and traditions are and how deeply the love runs between the two communities and highlighted that both governments need to ensure strict measures to protect peace and this relationship. The Jirga successfully laid the foundations for a series of candid meetings between youth from Afghanistan and Pakistan and relevant government officials.