ISLAMABAD: With an aim to bring together Pakistani and foreign youth for sharing ideas for inspiration and empowerment, Pakistan’s first International Youth Conference and Festival started here on Monday at Pakistan National Counsel of Arts (PNCA).Delegations from more than 12 countries are participating in the four-day conference cum cultural festival titled ‘Building Bridges Across the World’ .
The conference has been organised by Mirador Productions and counter extremism social movement Khudi Pakistan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, UNFPA, NCHD, Google and Youtube with the Alliance of Youth Movements as online supporters.
Experts in the field of social networking and journalism, showbiz and sports personalities as well as national heroes are participating in the conference.
Saima Mohsin, a journalist, threw light on the main objectives of the event. Steve Grove (Head of News and Politics, YouTube), Marc Koska (inventor of the disposable syringe), Susan Gordon (Facebook Causes), Todd Shea (Musician & Activist), Stephanie Rudat (co-founder AYM), Peter Nicholson (Former UN investigator) and Jay Boren (Google) were also among the speakers .
The conference aims to bring youth together and promote Pakistan’s image, culture and national heritage at the international level.
On this occasion music shows, dramas and Pakistani heritage were displayed for foreign participants.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira and Director General Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR) Major General Athar Abbas urged the youth to play active roles in combating and defeating terrorism in the country.
They said that the government and the security forces cannot eliminate the menace unless the young generation, particularly the students, come forward and play their role.
During his interaction and dialogue with the youth in the opening session of the conference, Qamar Zaman Kaira said that only a strong government could move towards democracy from dictatorship. He said Pakistani society had been liberal and tolerant during the 1970s but later it was pushed towards extremism.
He said the one of the biggest challenge of our country is to stabilise our economy and society.
Responding to a query, Kaira said in the present circumstances, there could not be any reduction in the defence budget or the country might have to face severe consequences of poor security.
“We have to spend a huge amount on our defence due to external and internal threats, while a substantial amount is being spent to maintain law and order,” he added. But at the same time, the government is endeavouring to expand the tax base and generate more resources for education,
health and other social sectors, he added.
Fatima Malik, national coordinator of Khudi, told The Express Tribune that the main focus of the conference was to bring together Pakistani and foreign youth in order to facilitate, network, inspire and empower.
She said that economic and political realities are limiting Pakistan’s youth from opportunities to connect directly with foreign cultures.
The organisers of the conference are optimistic that the International Youth Conference and Festival will inspire young people to work towards social change, and to challenge the stereotypes that often develop in the absence of direct communication channels. The participants of the conference discussed and will continue to debate best practices in the three themes of ‘bridging cultural divides’, ‘building stronger societies’, and ‘turning words into action’.
By: Azam Khan