Public Talk on Successful Colombian Peace Process October 24, 2017
The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Externado University of Colombia in a Public Talk on Successful Colombian Peace Process today. The MoU is part of the First Colombian Week celebration in Pakistan to further the cultural linkages between the two countries. Speaking at the occasion, H.E. Mr. Juan Alfredo Pinto Saavedra, Non-resident Ambassador of Colombia to Pakistan said that Colombia has entered a new phase of optimism and looking for potential economic opportunities, therefore, we want closer cooperation with Pakistan.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Chairman ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood appreciated the celebration of the Colombian Week and succinctly described the diversity of the country by calling it a “land of a thousand rhythms.” The MoU, he stated, would gave an impetus to the bilateral cooperation between ISSI and the Externado University of Colombia. He said that a general framework, under the MoU, has been drafted to initiate academic and research exchange. The Colombian Peace Process is of extreme relevance to Pakistan since it effectively dealt with the problems of drug trafficking and insurgency. President Juan Manuel Santos’s efforts in ending the insurgency offers an invaluable insight into countering all forms of violence. As a token of good will, he said, the MoU will reduce the barriers of language and culture, and the ISSI is eager to play a role in promoting the bilateral ties with the immediate implementation of this MoU by organizing the Public Talk today.
Ambassador Juan Alfredo Pinto Saavedra also expressed confidence in initiating goodwill by celebrating the week of Colombia in Pakistan. He informed the audience that Colombia is a significant country and, after the successful conclusion of the peace agreement, it is opening up to the world. Through the celebration of this week, we want to showcase the rich flora and fauna along the Amazon basin and the exotic culture of the country. We are also creating the platforms for smart entrepreneurs to exchange innovative ideas. Colombian companies will also be constructing dams in Pakistan. However, he impressed upon the need to enhance people-to-people contacts because, he urged, that knowledge and intelligence are the key to durable relations of states.
Prof. Dr. Saraya Cara Vargas from the Externado University of Colombia touched upon the nature of the MoU and introduced the University of Externado, Colombia, briefly. The university, she said, is 130 years old and situated in Bogota, Colombia. It was established at a very critical stage in the history of Colombia. It promotes freedom of expression, pluralism, tolerance and diversity. The university offers 179 post-graduate programs and has also initiated a joint research program on building peace in post-conflict areas, China’s New Silk Road project and its potentialities for Latin American countries. She expressed her optimism in advancement of the bilateral ties in days coming ahead. She also identified themes that can be taken up for joint research by the ISSI and the University.
The Guest Speaker, Dr. Marcelo Macedo Rizo, talked about the Colombian Peace Process at length. He described the six pillars of the agreement: End of the conflict; Solution of the problem of illicit drug; Political participation (a democratic opportunity to build peace); Comprehensive rural reforms; Agreement regarding the victims of the conflict; Implementation, verification and public vote. Answering a question about lessons to be learnt from the Colombian peace process Dr. Rizo said, “We are convinced that dialogue and the talks are the only way to end the conflicts and to achieve long-lasting peace.”
In his concluding remarks, Chairman ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood also emphasized the need for political solution and negotiation to end the conflicts. he cited the Nelson Mandela’s principle of “truth and reconciliation” . However, he was of the view that the conflicts are seen in the contextual prism of each country, but the Colombian peace process has extreme relevance to Pakistan. With reference to collaboration with Externado University, he was of the view that it is about time we begin to use academic and research avenues for greater Pak-Colombian interaction.