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Straight from the Specialists

Perfect time to ramp up civil society dialogue


A man holds an image of U.S. national Raymond Davis during a rally against Davis in Islamabad February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files
(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

In the midst of a tense bilateral dispute between the U.S. and Pakistan over the case of Raymond Davis — an American Embassy employee who shot and killed two armed Pakistanis in what he claims was self-defense — civil society leaders from both countries met in Lahore, Pakistan from February 17 – 19.

The initiative, dubbed the US-Pakistan Leaders Forum, was convened by the US-Muslim Engagement Initiative — a non-governmental, non-partisan collaboration of four U.S.-based organizations – and facilitated by the Lahore University of Management Sciences, a world-class educational institute started in 1985 by Pakistani industrialist Syed Babar Ali.

During the meetings, in which I had the honor to participate, think tank experts, NGO activists, educational leaders, and agricultural experts sat down, rolled up their sleeves, and generated ideas for closer collaboration between the two countries in areas such as media education, scaling up community peace-building efforts, increasing academic collaboration at the university, primary, and secondary levels, and developing agriculture partnerships that would bring farmers together in hands-on collaborative endeavors.

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