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ISLAMABAD, Aug 6: Speakers at a seminar on Monday said the corporate sector could play a valuable role in addressing key socio-economic issues such as poverty and unemployment.

They were of the opinion that weak and non-existent government institutions are unable to effectively address the conflicts within Pakistan, therefore increasing role of the private sector.

The seminar on ‘Peace through Profit: Peace-building through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Pakistan’ was organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Responsible Businesses Initiative (RBI) and International Alert, London.

Asad Umar, former Engro Corporation CEO, said the private sector must be vigorously engaged in public policy issues, particularly conflict prevention and resolution.

Mr Umar, who has now joined politics and is the senior vice-president of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), said his party had finalised its economic policy, which would be announced  soon.

However, former PPP parliamentarian, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad, People’s Labour Bureau chairman, expressed discomfort with the role of the corporate sector, which he said had vested interests in promoting conflicts rather than peace.

“These corporations are exploiting the workers and local community by avoiding their responsibilities towards the communities by observing unethical business practices which ultimately lead to conflict,” Chaudhry Manzoor said.

Rabia Nusrat, senior programme officer, International Alert, London, informed participants of International Alert’s interventions in conflict resolution in Pakistan and across South Asia.

“We have joined hands with SDPI to conduct a research study to analyse economic drivers of conflict. This will include an assessment of the obstacles or opportunities for business to act as agents of peace, and in particular assess the peace supportive economic factors, such as youth unemployment issues,” she added. — A Reporter