September 11, 2020—Islamabad, Pakistan—PILDAT, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency organized a virtual Book Launch of the book BREAKING GROUND authored by Ms. Heidi Kühn, CEO and Founder, Roots of Peace.
H.E. Ambassador Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, was the Keynote Speaker at the virtual book launch, while Ms. Heidi Kühn shared her plans and insights as the author of the book. Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President, PILDAT, Mr. Shahid Khan, Roots of Peace Senior Advisor and Honorary Consul General of Pakistan, and Mr. Gary Kühn, President, Roots of Peace, also spoke at the book launch. The virtual book launch was moderated by Emmy Award-winning Journalist, Ms. Cheryl Jennings.
The keynote speaker H.E. Ambassador Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said that the timing of this book launch is very interesting as less than 36 hours from now, the inaugural session of Intra-Afghan negotiations would begin in Doha, Qatar.
“We are hopeful that at this inaugural session of Intra-Afghan negotiations, people of Afghanistan and their stakeholders will be able to decide on an agenda for future talks,” stated Ambassador Sadiq.
Speaking of the work of Roots of Peace, Ambassador Sadiq said that a number of people have worked in Afghanistan over the years but the contribution of Ms. Heidi Kühn is remarkable. She and her family and her organization have taken personal risks to do significant work. He said that the work done by her and by Roots of Peace in demining in Afghanistan will be written “with golden words.”
Ambassador Sadiq said that while serving as Pakistan’s Ambassador in Afghanistan, he has personally seen the improvements facilitated by Roots of Peace. Farmers have been able to increase income and Afghan agriculture exports have dramatically increased It is not a small achievement for a country like Afghanistan where key job creation comes from agriculture.
Ambassador Sadiq added Pakistan’s former tribal areas share the same situation with Afghanistan. He said that they hope Ms. Kühn will be able to implement similar agriculture initiatives on this side of the Afghan border, adding that such contributions in Pakistan will not only help farmers in the former FATA but also equip Afghan refugees with necessary job skills that will help them get a job when they wish to return honourably to Afghanistan.
Concluding his speech, Ambassador Sadiq said that he is thankful to PILDAT for inviting him and organizing the book launch. PILDAT, he said, would be a very apt and very good partner for the work of Roots of Peace in Pakistan owing to PILDAT’s rich experience of strengthening democracy and democratic governance in Pakistan.
Ms. Heidi Kühn, founder of Roots of Peace and author of Breaking Ground shared that her book describes her difficult 23-year journey helping war-torn countries remove landmines and restore land for agriculture. She emphasized that through her belief in ‘Peace through Agriculture’, she would like to work with Pakistan to impact farmers and families through her MINES TO VINES initiative. She said that sharing her ‘call to action’ to plant the Roots of Peace in Pakistan on the eve of the 19th anniversary of 9/11 is a step forward to promote people-to-people contact and support farmers and families in Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Shahid Ahmed Khan thanked PILDAT for facilitating the book launch. He said Roots of Peace and its founder Ms. Heidi Kühn, have helped bring real change to Afghanistan. Breaking Ground shares the inspiring journey she began and he is very happy to facilitate Ms. Heidi Kühn and Roots of Peace to work in Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Gary Kühn, President, Roots of Peace, said that Roots of Peace has been able to create jobs where job creation was most difficult. With major investments from USAID, World Bank and others, Roots of Peace was able to make a real difference in the lives of people and for business and trade of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has seen phenomenal success through this model which can be applied to the former FATA in Pakistan. There is demand for the same initiatives in Pakistan by Pakistan’s farmers.
In his opening remarks, PILDAT President Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob welcomed Ms. Heidi Kühn and Roots of Peace for partnering with PILDAT in launching the amazing book Breaking Ground. He especially thanked H.E. Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq for accepting PILDAT’s invitation to be the keynote speaker. Mr. Mehboob said, “we find the book so inspiring that we would like to get it translated in Urdu.” The book tells a fascinating story of the creation, struggle and success of the organization founded by Ms. Kühn which is aptly named ‘Roots of Peace.’ The book narrates her challenges spread over three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – to remove landmines and rehabilitate the demined land. The positive results allowed local farmers to plant vines, fruit trees and cash crops, and, connected local farmers to international markets. A few months after the 9/11 tragedy, Ms. Kühn identified the issue of landmines in Afghanistan – a country 80% dependent on agriculture. With funding from Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney, she partnered with United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to remove landmines in the Shomali Plains north of Kabul. Partnering with the University of California, Davis, she started her work to grow fresh grapes and also produce raisins on former minefields in Afghanistan with funding from USAID. ‘Roots of Peace’ restored the agricultural land in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan by planting various fruits like grapes, pomegranate, nuts, figs, apricots, and apples. Mr. Mehboob said, “we at PILDAT look forward to partnering with Ms. Heidi Kühn and her Roots of Peace to do humanitarian work in Pakistan especially in the former FATA area to help the Government in reconstruction and development of agriculture.”
Earlier, welcoming the panellists and participants, Emmy Award-Winning Journalist, Ms. Cheryl Jennings said that Breaking Ground traces an inspiring journey of initiatives by Ms. Heidi Kühn. Ms. Jennings proudly stated that she is at the book launch as a moderator because she has followed the work of Roots of Peace for television news, for nearly 20 years, when she was a news anchor for the ABC TV station in San Francisco. She travelled with Roots of Peace to war-torn countries to document their work removing landmines and restoring the land for agriculture and development.
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Recorded Video of the Book Launch is available at following links and can also be viewed below.