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Pakistani, Afghan members of civil society to hold talks on Monday

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Islamabad: Pakistani and Afghan members of the civil society and researchers will be opening a two-day dialogue in Islamabad on Monday to help improve bilateral relations at a time when mistrust has badly affected official contacts between the two countries.

Organizers said “the Pakistan-Afghanistan Track 1.5/II project Beyond Boundaries has assumed unusual significance because of the current tensions and the stalled dialogue between the two governments”.

The key objectives of the initiative are expanding the peace constituency through friendship groups in both countries; improving support for better Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship through dialogue among the influential stakeholders and informing policy makers through consensus recommendations.

The working groups on regional security and civil society will address varied themes that are important in the peace process between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is also expected to build upon existing commonalities and increase future people-to-people contact.

“The Track 1.5/II becomes important also because the bilateral relationship has been fraught with mutual mistrust been the proxy battleground for complicated regional relationships,” Imtiaz Gul, the Pakistani organizer told the media.

Gul’s Centre of Research and Security Studies (CRSS) has launched the process in partnership with its Afghan counterpart DURAN Research and Analysis (DRA).

“The arrival of the Afghan civil society and youth delegation marks the resumption of dialogue between non-governmental and political stakeholders from the two countries to the backdrop of a politically difficult and challenging environment,” a CRSS statement said.

Initiatives like beyond boundaries will bring together influential government and non-governmental stakeholders who can help lessen tensions, address misconceptions, and revive some level of confidence, it added.

The process will also urge both governments and key stakeholders away from the prior behavior of confrontation and an antagonistic-approach towards a more trust and collaborative-based approach for peace, security, and regional cooperation.

(IANS)

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Women of Pakistan Protest Against Workplace Harassment, Child Marriage

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded "the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country"

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Following this, a National Security Committee was also held to discuss Sharif's
Pakistan Flag, wikimedia commons

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, women took to the streets across Pakistan on Friday to protest against sexual harassment in the workplace, child marriage ‘honour killings, wage inequalities and limited political representation.

Organisers hope that the “aurat march” (women’s march) and “aurat azadi march” (women’s liberation march) will draw attention to the struggle for reproductive, economic, and social justice across in Pakistan, reports the Guardian.

The first “Aurat March” was held last year in Karachi; this time, the rally has been extended to more cities, including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Larkana and Hyderabad.

The aim is to reach ordinary women in factories, homes and offices, says Nighat Dad, an “aurat march” organiser in Lahore.

“We want an organic movement by women demanding equal access to justice and ending discrimination of all kinds.”

Speakers at the Lahore march ranged from a woman fighting to reform marriage laws to the women who worked on the landmark Punjab Domestic Workers’ Act — a legislation that outlaws child labour in homes and provides maternity benefits to workers.

Another activist, Leena Ghani, noted that Pakistani women have a history of taking to the streets, famously during military dictator Zia ul-Haq’s martial law in the 1980s.

Krishna Kumari works in her office in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Feb. 12, 2018. VOA

While Pakistan has made major strides towards gender equality, poorer, marginalised women and transgender citizens continue to struggle, Ghani added.

Designer Shehzil Malik created a series of striking posters for the “aurat march” that counter typical representations of Pakistani women as docile and subservient.

Women are also protesting against discriminatory policies in universities, where male and female students are afforded different levels of freedom, the Guardian said.

A Pakistani university recently caused a furore on social media by banning women from wearing skinny jeans and sleeveless shirts.

Also Read- Originality is a Dichotomous Terminology, Says Megastar Amitabh Bachchan

In his message on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his government’s commitment to providing women a safe environment so that they could contribute to the country’s development, Dawn news reported.

“We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring women a secure and enabling environment to play their rightful role in our nation’s development.”

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded “the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country”. (IANS)