Organised by the College of Public Policy (CPP) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Afghanistan Future Thought Forum (AFTF) convened for its 9th session under the chairmanship of Fatima Gailani in Oslo over three days recently.

The forum brought together 27 notable Afghans from various ethnicities and political persuasions from inside and outside Afghanistan for dialogue, united by the will to seek sustainable policy solutions to the current challenges facing the country, while denouncing violence and the return to war.

The Oslo meeting marked the conclusion of an 18-month research grant awarded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Dr Sultan Barakat, professor, CPP, from January 2023 to June 2024. The AFTF was initiated by Dr Barakat as the centrepiece of a wider action research project where knowledge gained is leading to both policy change and bridging a divide between stakeholders. Previous AFTF meetings were held in a number of capitals including Doha, Istanbul, Kabul and Jakarta.

The meeting was opened by Andreas Kravik, Norwegian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who underlined the crucial role AFTF plays in progressing peaceful dialogue for the future stability of Afghanistan.

“The underlying theory of change that guided our policy dialogue work is that enhancing inclusive policy making in the Interim and successive governments in Afghanistan is best achieved through sustained constructive dialogue between all Afghan stakeholders, facilitated by an impartial third-party that can offer trusted, professional and discrete advice,” said Dr Sultan Barakat.

Commenting on the AFTF, Dr Leslie A Pal, professor and founding dean, CPP, added: “There is a dearth of impartial third-party facilitators convening productive policy exchanges on priorities for relief, reconstruction, and stabilisation between Afghanistan’s Interim Government and the international community, as well as its regional neighbours.”
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