Feb 10, 2008
On January 16th, 2008, the Director CAPS, Mr. Hekmat Karzai, attended the second annual Jagran Forum in New Delhi, India. The topic of the forum this year was “Democracy and Conflict Resolution in Asia”.
The Jagran Foundation, set up by the publishers of India’s most widely read newspaper, the Hindi daily, “Dainik Jagran” with 32 editions and over 21 million plus readers, has decided to organize a regular Forum that would bring together people from different walks of life to discuss issues of public policy in a non-partisan manner. The particular focus has been on widening the circle of participants as there is a feeling that until now, public policy debates have generally been limited to small groups of persons, particularly the metropolitan elites.
The First Jagran Forum, in December 2005, had “Democracy, Economic Development and Social Inclusion’ as its theme. It was inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, and participants included different Indian policy makers (Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and Leader of Opposition L K Advani) as well as eminent scholars from around the world – Lord Meghnad Desai, Sir Anthony O’Reily, Kishore Mahbubani, James Manor and Pratap Bhanu Mehta.
The keynote address for the second Jagran Forum was delivered by L K Advani, leader of the opposition, Lok Sabha. Mr. Hekmat Karzai was one of the panelists in the first session titled: “Holy Terror: How do we prevent the Clash of Civilization?” Other participants in the panel included Daniel Pipes, Founder and Director of the Middle East Forum; Sunil Khilnani, Director of South Asia Studies Program, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC; Shri Yashwant Sinha, Former Minister of External Affairs; and Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Science and Technology , Government of India.
Mr. Karzai’s remarks focused on the topic of Holy Terror in Afghanistan and Islam in South Asia where he emphasized on three topics: (a) Is there a direct clash between the West and the Muslim world? ; (b) Is Afghanistan a direct manifestation of that clash? ; And (c) What should be done to deal with the on-going challenges that are fueled by perceptions rather than realities?
In response to a question, Mr. Karzai stated, “Today, the international community enjoys legitimacy in Afghanistan, unlike in other conflicts. Besides the UN mandate, there is genuine local support for the international engagement in the country.”