Monday, March 21, 2011

Indian, Pakistani Leaders Urge Youth To Unite And Work For Peace

Indian and Pakistani panelists at the Aman Ki Asha,
or Peace and Hope, seminar last week in Karachi
Photo by  Maaz Ahmed

By Waleed Tariq
Junior reporter
Youth Journalism International
KARACHI, Pakistan – Unless the youth of the India and Pakistan interact, there is little chances of peace or success in the region, a member of India’s parliament told students at a recent university seminar.
Mazhar Hussain joined several fellow members of India’s parliament and their Pakistani colleagues in speaking at an international seminar on the need of peace, stability and progress between India, Pakistan and the South Asian region.

In his view, Hussain said, there is no problem between Indian and Pakistani people. It is the governments of those nations, he said, that do not allow peaceful co-existence due to their various vested interests.

Indian Member of Parliament
Mazhar Hussain
Photo by Maaz Ahmed

“There is absolutely no difference between India and Pakistan and I have no feeling of being away from home,” said Hussain. “Everything is the same, the people, the way we talk, everything.”

At the seminar, ‘Progress Needs Peace and Stability,’ hosted by the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) on its Karachi campus, Hussain wasn’t the only one looking to young people to solve problems.

Shahid Siddiqui, another member of the Indian parliament and editor of the Hindi newspaper Nai Dunya, said that youth play a very important part in peace and conflict resolution.

“This generation has to deliver or else we will be in the dustbin of history,” Siddiqui said at the March 18 event, which was part of the Aman ki Asha campaign for peace building between both the countries. Aman means “peace” in Urdu; Asha is Hindi for “hope.”

Indian Member of Parliament Shadhid Siddiqui
Photo by Maaz Ahmed

“I am expecting a lot from Pakistani youth,” said Siddiqui. “We have to develop a constituency of peace.”

The lack of education makes the youth especially vulnerable to becoming involved in violence and hooliganism, Siddiqui said. He emphasized how important it is for the younger generation to develop the ability to question in order to distinguish between right and wrong.

Muqtida Mansoor, a Pakistani member of the panel, said friendly, peaceful and mutually beneficial relations between India and Pakistan are important for residents of both countries and for regional and global peace and security.

“We cannot achieve socio-economic development without peace and prosperity in this region,” Mansoor said. “We need to envision an environment that is conducive of dialogue in South Asia.”

To illustrate his point, Mansoor said the European Union and NAFTA have set aside their past differences and found new avenues for development.

Indian Member of Parliament
Bhalchandra Mungekar,
Photo by Maaz Ahmed

Dialog between India and Pakistan must begin again, Mansoor said, so the nations can move forward to resolve complicated disputes like Kashmir and Siachen that have been a bone of contention for many years.

Panelist Bhalchandra Mungekar, a member of the Indian parliament, said he is an economist by profession and a teacher by choice.

All differences between India and Pakistan could be resolved if people forget the bitter instances of the past and engage in continual, uninterrupted dialogue.

Mungekar also stressed the significance of youth in this peace initiative.

Audience at SZABIST seminar

“Visas shall be given to students for cross-border education exchange without any barriers,” Mungekar said. “I shall myself write to the prime minister of India about this, as soon as I reach there. The future depends on the youth and not on the politicians or the parliamentarians.”

Literature, Mungekar said, is the most powerful tool for a non-violent social change.

“I read the Holy Quran about 25 years ago and it is nothing but absolute peace,” Mungekar said.

Mansoor proposed that South Asian governments create a visa-free zone and allow duty-free access to books, magazines and other literary material.

Highlighting the power of technology, Hussain emphasized on the use of social media to meet, connect and to form a mutual platform for interaction.

Citizens should make foreign policy, Hussain said, rather an elitist group of civil-military bureaucrats. The people are the ones who are most affected by misguided policies that lead to problems of poverty, malnutrition and in other areas of development.

Initiated by major media outlets like the Urdu newspaper Jang in Pakistan and The Times of India, Aman ki Asha aims to encourage dialogue between the governments, encourage people-to-people contacts and thus contribute to bringing peace between India, Pakistan and South Asia at-large.

Facilitated by the Social Sciences Society of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, the seminar was attended by an 11-member delegation from India. In addition to Mungekar, Hussain and Siddiqui, the panel included other veteran journalists and members of parliament such as Jatin Desai and Harris Kidwai, among others.

SZABIST Vice President of Academics
Amanat Ali Jalbani

From Pakistan, in addition to Mansoor, were Salman Shaikh, Tauqir Chughtai and Karamat Ali, who is the director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research.

Students and faculty members of the campus including Amanat Ali Jalbani, who is vice president of academics for the university.

Jalbani said the seminar is part of the institute’s policy of moving beyond the limited classroom customs and participating in various cross-cultural and corporate social responsibility activities to foster growth and development amongst its students.

No comments: