Pakistan and Afghanistan: Opportunities and Challenges in the Wake of the Current Crisis

Background

This upcoming event builds upon recent meetings and discussions hosted by different organizations, including a dialogue organized by PAKNET, a World Bank staff association, in early October, 2001.

Since then, a large number of internal and external groups have expressed an interest in the substance of the dialogue. The current initiative attempts to open up the discussion to the larger community. The moderators and sponsors of the discussion welcome scholars, historians, social scientists, students and practitioners of development, and other active community members who would like to share their knowledge and insights to help achieve a deeper understanding of the situation.

This electronic discussion is sponsored by: The George Washington University Department of Public Administration; the GWU Center for the Study of Globalization; the Community Empowerment and Social Inclusion Program (WBIKL); and the Knowledge Sharing Program (WBIKL).
Objectives

The discussion aims to:
1. increase knowledge and understanding of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan;
2. improve the appreciation of perspectives of different actors;
3. enhance understanding of the roots and branches (causes and effects) of the current situation; and,
4. analyze the complexities, along with the opportunities and challenges for both countries, and a realistic view of the way forward.
Structure and Contents

The discussion is organized in three portions of 9 -10 days each. Each portion will be led by an invited moderator who will make a first contribution to set the stage for the discussion, and make other inputs as necessary. Key features of the situation that are expected to cut across all discussion components are the linkages and overlaps between social, political, and economic development.

Each portion of the discussion will be guided by a question from the following set of questions related to the current crisis. By ‘crisis’ we refer to the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001; the ensuing ‘War on Terrorism’ by a coalition led by the United States, and its effects on Afghanistan and Pakistan (e.g. internal displacement, refugees, hunger, destruction, division and conflict in society, economic fall out, and loss of life).

Part One of the discussion will consider the question: How did we get here?

Discussion of this topic will focus on the root causes of the current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will include a discussion of the historical context; the different actors, internal and external; and their interests and inter-relationships over time.

Part Two will consider the question: What are the implications of this crisis on the economic, social, and political development of Pakistan and Afghanistan?
How are the root causes and the historical context reflected in what is happening now? The discussion will also consider the complexities of reconstruction and development in a pre and post-conflict situation.

Part Three will consider the question: Where do we go from here?

What do the current events mean for the future of Pakistan and Afghanistan? What are the key challenges and main opportunities in the given situation? Discussion of this topic will focus on realistic ideas for moving forward, considering the intertwined history of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and their current state of economic, social, and political development. How can these three порно dimensions of development be addressed adequately? Who can play what roles? Should respective efforts be sequential? Simultaneous? Which approaches would be desirable? Which are possible?

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