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    Civil society leaders to meet in Kabul

    KABUL (PAN): Hundreds of civil society leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan will meet in Kabul in an effort to promote people-to-people contact between the two nations and boost regional cooperation.

    Originally penciled in for March, the Afghanistan-Pakistan Friendship Association meeting was pushed back to April to ensure better preparations and an effective outcome, officials from both sides said.

    Renowned intellectual and Awami National Party (ANP) leader Afrasiab Khattak will head the Pakistan delegation, while ex-parliamentarian Babrak Shinwari will lead the Afghan team.

    Speaking to Pajhwok Afghan News over the telephone from Pakistan, Khattak said one key objective behind the meeting was to explore ways of bringing the two peoples closer.

    With the agenda yet to be firmed up, he said advancing common causes, including regional stability and economic prosperity, was among the principal goals of the association that was founded in December 2001.

    Khattak, Asma Jehangir, Jamila Gilani and Latif Afridi from Pakistan and Babrak Shinwari, Prof. Rasul Amin (late), Fatana Gilani and Fakhria Hassan from Afghanistan were the moving spirit behind the association’s creation.

    Set up at a time when the region was in a state of volatility and insecurity, the friendship group has already held a series of gatherings in Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi.

    An Afghan member of the association, meanwhile, confirmed that preparations were underway for the April gathering in Kabul. Inayatullah Alami said they were in touch with the Pakistani side on how to make the event a success.

    He believed that such sessions could play an effective role in removing misperceptions and fostering amity between Afghans and their Pakistani brethren.