Increased role of civil society in conflict processes is essential as it offers alternative viewpoints on key strategic and foreign policy issues. These views were expressed by former ambassador and the Executive Director of Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) Ali Sarwar Naqvi, said a press release.
He was speaking at a conference on “Conflict Transformation and South Asian Security Dynamics – Strengthening Role of Civil Society” on Wednesday.
In the first session, Dr Moonis Ahmar, an eminent scholar on international relations, examined the theoretical framework of conflict transformation in the context of South Asian peace and security dynamics.
Dr Rifaat Hussain of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) highlighted the six contours of conflict – people, poverty, proliferation of weapons, polarisation, protracted conflicts and promise for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
The second session covered two key issues in South Asian security dynamics. Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, also from QAU, while presenting his views on geostrategic landscape of South Asia, said that the intrastate and interstate conflicts severely undermine the region’s peace and prosperity.
“The protracted asymmetrical warfare in Afghanistan and the great powers’ strategic competition to grab the Central Asian oil and gas resources and steward them to energy deficient regions negatively contributes towards the region’s strategic environment,” he said.
The final session focused on how the civil society can play its role in conflict transformation. Dr Farzana Bari of QAU said that the civil society has shared concerns and discourse for transforming conflicts in the region. “Civil society has new opportunities and challenges to make cross-border linkages due to development in information technology and communication,” she added.
Jinnah Institute Executive Director Ejaz Haider pointed out the need to define civil society, as it was the least understood in terms of the state’s relationship with society. “There is a necessity to increase the role of civil society for conflict resolution but the state needs to adapt its role for building a united narrative rather than a divided front,” he said.
In conclusion, Naqvi said that the nature of the state could be shaped as desired by its people. “Pakistanis need not be defensive or apologetic about the state or its philosophy.”
The conference was jointly organised by CISS and Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2012.
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