Parliamentarians from Pakistan and Afghanistan on Thursday announced a new initiative Women Parliamentarians Beyond Boundaries (WPBB) to push for greater understanding and bilateral cooperation. The idea was floated by Member National Assembly (MNA) Shandana Gulzar, who said if doctors can operate without boundaries, why can’t public representatives do so by joining hands to serve and guide their people?

Ms Gulzar said this at the Pakistan-Afghanistan Women Parliamentarians’ Dialogue, organized by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and the Organization for Economic Studies and Peace (OESP) in Afghanistan.

The conference was designed to bring together members of parliament and senior female officials from both countries to communicate and collaborate across a wide variety of common goals.

The gathering was inaugurated by H. E. Najib Alikhil, the honorable ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan, who lauded CRSS’ efforts in expanding and improving people-to-people relations between the two countries and highlighted the women forum as a clear example of the organization’s success. He stated that the stability, security, and prosperity of the two countries was deeply linked, and cooperation needed to be improved in trade and transit, education, health, and security. He was appreciative of the positive recent diplomatic exchanges between the two countries and said that PM Imran Khan’s vision for of peace is achievable with direct contribution of all stakeholders and a comprehensive ceasefire.

Shinkai Karokhail, Member Parliament Afghanistan and leader of the delegation, said that engaging more women can help change the face of Afghan politics. She stated that women’s role in lasting peace is critical, and Afghan women welcome and expect regional women to support them in whatever way possible.

Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Health, stated that health is a common challenge and shared goal. She briefed the honorable attendees for the efforts out together by the government to both curb the pandemic, while keeping the economy afloat. She led an interactive discussion on what could be jointly pursued in the field of health between the two countries.

Dr. Sania Nishtar, the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety, spoke about the government’s effort to curb poverty and provide financial assistance to the masses, and how this may be replicated in Afghanistan. She said that despite several women-focused programs, even the main EHSAS program was designed on a policy of 50% parity. Her briefing was lauded by Ms. Shinkai, who proposed that the Afghan Women Affairs Minister should visit Pakistan to further connect on this issue.

MNA Mehnaz Akbar Aziz briefed the participants that Pakistan has constituted a special committee on child rights at the SDGs headquarter in the National Assembly. Pakistan is willing to support Afghanistan with any possible assistance in establishing such committees.

Member National Assembly, Dr. Aisha Ghaus Pasha stated whilst delivering her keynote address that after the peace agreement, the Afghan government should work for improving the quality of life for the citizens.

The session concluded on a positive note by Ms. Gulzar who stated that we should work together for bringing peace through development. She further highlighted the importance of measures like educational investments in the form of scholarships for Afghan students, exchange program for Afghan doctors to do specialization in Pakistan, visa relaxations for Afghan patients and medical tourism, and continuation of these meetings in the future either physically or virtually.