By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, Aug 20 (Diplomatic Star): Speakers at the International Summer Workshop on Regional Connectivity stressed upon that nothing is more important than the youth of any country to achieve the goals of sustainable development, besides a way forward for building up stronger and prosperous society.
The Summer Workshop was jointly organized by the Hanns Seidel Foundation Pakistan (HSF) and the National Dialogue Forum (NDF), aimed at to connect young leaders from both Pakistan-Afghanistan, also bring together leading policy makers, academics, journalists and experts under one roof for interactive sessions with these young amplifiers.
Addressing the Summer workshop, Executive Director, NDF Sheharyar Khan said that one of our key mandates is to work towards bringing peace and stability in the region, hence the theme of this year’s workshop is “Regional Connectivity”.
He said: “A peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan will be in benefit of the region and for Pakistan. For all this to happen, it’s important both for Afghanistan and Pakistan to support each other and develop a relationship that will benefit the people on each side.”
He was off the view that genuine steps need to be taken to bring the people of each country together (specially the youth) to work towards a more prosperous region in terms of economic growth.
Across the spectrum there is consensus, that regional connectivity and cooperation can contribute to building and sustaining peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and the region, Shehryar Khan remarked.
He said that International Summer workshop is a small step in building people to people contacts. This year we bring together almost 30 young leaders through a rigorous selection process for sharing their views and making suggestions related to the challenges and opportunities faced by Afghanistan and its neighboring countries, and how they might be tackled.
He hoped that 10-day long participatory workshop will also bring together leading policy makers, academics, journalists and experts under one roof for an interactive session with these young multipliers.
He said the Perfect and comprehensive solutions may be difficult to find overnight. But that should not stop us from identifying the building blocks and starting with certain core solutions that bring people and countries together, creating a vibrant space where peoples, ideas, goods and services can seamlessly flow and collaborate, thus creating collective hope and progress.
He said: “ we are hoping that these seeds of cooperation that we are planting today, will develop into cultural and civic relationships that will serve as the foundation for stronger people-to-people relations in the Central and South Asia area leading to economic and regional prosperity.”
Shehryar Khan said that one of the key mandates of this platform is to work towards bringing peace and stability in the region, hence the theme of this year’s workshop is “Regional Connectivity”.
It will also discuss the role of youth in peace-building, stronger communication across borders, economic connectivity, refugee protection, cross-cultural conversation, third gender recognition, policy barriers and other important topics, he added.
Addressing the participants of the workshop, Dr. Steffen Kudella , the Resident Representative of HSF Pakistan said that there is nothing more important to the future of this region than investing in its promising young generation.
He said: “They don’t need to be criticized, but inspired.”
Stressing upon the importance of democracy, Dr. Steffen Kudella said that The Hanns Seidel Foundation’s slogan is: in the service of democracy, peace and development.
Dr Steffen said that stronger Democracy needs political education that enables a society to participate in the democratic development process with as much knowledge as possible and to make informed decisions.
He said “without education, there is no democracy.”
As far as peace is concerned, he said that ‘Peace needs dialogue’
He said that the history of Europe teaches us that peace can be secured through mutual understanding and collaboration.
“This requires becoming aware of the other’s interests through exchanging ideas and opinions. Without dialogue, there is no peace. “
Dr Kudella said that sustainable development has its only one demand that is the youth of the any country, meets the needs of the present generation.
However, he said that it does not compromise the ability of future generations. They need to be able to meet their needs, too. “Sustainable development is a form of intergenerational ethics, and therefore it is a choice.”
— HSF Pakistan (@HSF_Pakistan) August 20, 2022
Dr Kudella informed the participants about HSF-Pakistan, in the past eight years, his Foundation has supported Summer Schools on democracy, peace and development in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This year’s Summer Workshop is part of our long-standing regional approach.
He said, in addition to that, HSF Pakistan are supporting talented Afghan refugee students in Pakistan with comprehensive scholarships.
“We want to strengthen the regional stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan through good education.”
It will discuss the role of youth in peace-building, stronger communication across borders, economic connectivity, refugee protection, cross-cultural conversation, third gender recognition, policy barriers and other important topics.
Taking part in the discussion and addressed the event as shared chief guest Special Assistant of the Prime Minister on Youth Affairs, Shaza Fatima Khawaja said that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan will be in benefit of the region and, advantageous for Pakistan.
For all this to happen, she said it’s important both for Afghanistan and Pakistan to support each other and develop a relationship that will benefit the people on each side.
Appreciating the work and efforts of HSF Pakistan and NDF to engaging the youth of both countries, providing guidance for their better futures, besides supporting them financially in terms of education, leadership etc.
Shaza Fatima Khawaja said that we hope that this Workshop will serve as the foundation for stronger people-to-people relations in the Pakistan-Afghanistan and Central Asia region.
She hoped that such platforms can play a very significant role to foster peace, mutual understanding, and cooperation in South Asia.
Alfred Grannas the German Ambassador-Designate to Pakistan, in his first informal public appearance, remarked: “The European Union (EU) serves as a great example for the importance and potential of regional integration. For me, youth plays an important role in shaping the relationships between countries.”
Thomas Seiler, Chargé d’Affaires of the EU Delegation to Pakistan saw a link between the ISW and the EUs own efforts for Indo-pacific cooperation.
He pointed out the potential of regional connectivity – also in areas that are often forgotten such as vocational training.