Regional Civil Society Engagement in Green Dialogs
Promoting Peace and Stability through Equitable Natural Resource Management
If putting their animosities aside, Afghanistan and Pakistan could have the potential of being the driving force behind development and prosperity of the vast Central- and South Asian region. Given the strategic importance of both countries in geographic, political and economic terms from a regional and international perspective, it would seem apparent that they would be able to define their relevant needs and accordingly develop joint strategies towards increased stability, economic prosperity and a new political vision of integrity for the region. Regional infrastructure projects like TAPI and CASA 1000 are promising initiatives, but their realization is overshadowed by distrust between the involved national actors and security concerns. Moreover, instead of supporting the development of regional strategies, Afghanistan continues to promote its potential as an economic hub, looking much more to other regional neighbors than Pakistan. And Pakistan, while promoting its high economic regional relevance through an ever-lasting engagement with investor China, ignores how its restraint from economic and political cooperation with India is contributing to its isolation in the region.
Attempts of the political leaderships in Afghanistan and Pakistan for moving towards a more stable relationship and cooperation are rapidly dismantled through a high level of distrust and a continuing blame-game, with every new set-back through terrorist attacks. Encouraged by established power elites and promoted by national media outlets any approach towards the other has the potential of quickly evoking resistance on a citizen’s level. The result of a persistent tendency of such politically covered “finger pointing” is the fostering of historically established narratives. Instead of drawing lessons learned and utilizing neighborly capacities this tendency of clinging on to the biased histories about each other overrides any joined move towards a forward looking process. It is this nearly habitual repetition of old views, often wrong believes and well established conspiracies played back and forth between the two countries that commonly keeps actors from civil society, academia and media from establishing a productive dialog and drawing up a new regional vision.
The Heinrich Böll Stiftung (hbs) with its offices in Kabul and Islamabad is encouraging to bridge these stalled parameters by focusing on shared benefits and mutual interests with the project “Civil Society Engagement in Regional Green Dialogs”. The objective of this project is to open new windows for peace by drawing on mutual benefits of the equitable management of natural resources, like water and energy (http://pk.boell.org/dossier-regional-green-dialogs, http://af.boell.org/regional-green-dialogs).
But before a real dialog on these topics can be initiated, above described realities and challenges need to be addressed. Attempting to look beyond established parameters of perception about the other in neighborly relations, we are therefore calling for abstracts for a research on the identification of the conflict of interests between relevant stakeholders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What are the enhancing, what are the mitigating factors and who are the important actors, when it comes to the prevailing mistrust regarding trans-boundary waters and energy projects between the two countries?
We are inviting scholars and researchers from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the field of Social/Political Sciences, International Relations, Peace and Security Studies, Anthropology or a related field to submit an abstract on the topic described above. Abstracts should be of about 500 words, explaining the outline of the intended research, as well as methodology and theoretical background and preferably mention a collaborating partner from the other country. Abstracts and collaborative projects of authors from Afghanistan and Pakistan are most welcome. We would also like to encourage PhD students along with their supervisors from both countries to participate. The research project should be realized within the timeframe of August to November 2016. Researchers would be remunerated with an honorarium according to their experience and the scope of the research. Please submit your abstract, along with a CV to Jacqueline.Wilk@pk.boell.org not later than 17th July 2016.
For more information on the project “Regional Civil Society Engagement in Green Dialogs” please visit our Web Dossier at http://pk.boell.org/dossier-regional-green-dialogs or http://af.boell.org/regional-green-dialogs.
Mr. Abdullah Athayi, Program Coordinator Foreign/ Security Policies & Democratization
Phone: +93(0)707-10 77 73
Ms. Jacqueline Wilk, Regional Coordinator