ISLAMABAD - Speakers on Sunday highlighted the importance of regional connectivity, stability, and peace for sustainable development in the Pakistan-Afghanistan and the broader South and Central Asia region at Marriott Hotel Islamabad.  The event marked the inauguration of the 10-day long exchange and dialogue program, organized by Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Pakistan and the National Dialogue Forum (NDF), for young students from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The event aimed to bring together diverse group of young socio-political multipliers from the South and Central Asian region (including Afghan refugee students) and to provide them with the opportunity to exchange political, economic, social and cultural perspectives on regional challenges, and to understand the effects of new developments on their countries. Ms. Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Special Assistant of the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Youth Affairs, in her keynote address said that it is important for both Afghanistan and Pakistan to support each other and develop a relationship that will benefit the people on each side. Mr. Alfred Grannas, the German Ambassador-Designate to Pakistan said that the European Union (EU) serves as a great example for the importance and potential of regional integration and for me, youth plays an important role in shaping the relationships between countries.

Mr. Sheharyar Khan, Executive Director, NDF, welcomed all participants and said, “we hope 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 region.”

Dr. Steffen Kudella, the Resident Representative of HSF Pakistan, said that Sustainable development is a form of intergenerational ethics, and therefore it is a choice.

The opening ceremony was attended by a diverse audience including diplomats, professors, civil society activists, journalists, and representatives of different national and international organizations.