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Pakistan To Host International Peace Conference

The Pakistani city of Peshawar, the target of frequent terrorist attacks in recent years, will hold an International Peace Conference starting on April 29, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

The two-day conference will be attended by Pashtun cultural figures from Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and several European countries, conference organizer Shahab Khattak told RFE/RL today.

"The peace conference is organized by writers. But religious scholars, politicians, students, journalists, lawyers, doctors, and people from other walks of life are free to participate," Khattak said. "And this will enable us to take a step forward toward peace."

The conference has been independently organized by the World Pashto Congress, but the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government said it will also provide support for the conference.

KP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told RFE/RL that KP Chief Minister Amir Haidar Hoti will open the conference.

"We need peace and need to hate terrorism. This is a key task: to bring together all parties and the people, urging them to get together for the cause of peace," Hussain said. "We appreciate this initiative and will provide all possible support."

The minister said a cultural event will be held at the city's Nishter Hall to conclude the conference.

Groups of writers, poets, and journalists have already arrived in Peshawar from different Pakistani cities and abroad.

Peshawar has seen few foreign visitors in recent years because of the rising number of suicide and other bomb attacks and kidnappings that have killed and injured hundreds of people.

Elyas Wahdat, a poet, writer and journalist from Afghanistan's Khost Province, is optimistic the conference will help promote peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Peace is the key need, even more than food, for Pashtuns living on both sides of the Durand Line," Wahdat said. "If we manage to achieve peace, we shall be able to live [in peace]. Peace will be discussed at the conference, and we are looking forward to its outcome. We are hopeful of positive results, and people on both sides of the Durand Line are now striving for peace."