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The Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) organized a day long youth convention with the theme of Terrorism and Peace under the title “The Role of Youth in the Current Situation” (on December 12, 2009). The convention was attended by over 200 youth including university students from FC College, GCU, COMSATS, Quaid-e-Azam Law College, Punjab University, Dial Singh, MAO College among others.
The convention began with a talk by Dr. Mohammad Waseem, Professor of Political Science LUMS and Mr. Amir Rana, Director Pakistan Institute for Peace. The speakers discussed the history of terrorism in Pakistan asking the youth to be skeptics and question the world around them rather than accepting what they hear and read without evaluating it. Mr. Rana provided facts regarding how jihadi infrastructure created since the Afghan war, religious extremism, sectarian violence and criminal networks have come together to form the most violent wave of terrorism we see today. Dr. Waseem concentrated on the intellectual aspects arguing that the youth of Pakistan was going through an identity crises. The urban life of a Pakistani had been deeply influenced by the West from breakfast to clothing, most of our state laws were a product of British rule and our political democratic system was Western. But because of Western economic hegemony and imperialistic wars, there was a tendency among youth to forgo even the most progressive values that we had gained from Western civilization. He thus argued for accepting the benefits of a civilization while rejecting its destructive elements. The discussion though originally scheduled for an hour lasted close to two hours.
It was followed by a theatre performance on the effects of terrorism on society by Punjab University Mass Communication Department students before the lunch break. After lunch, a play titled ‘Last Human’ (Akhri Insaan) was performed by NSF. The play grabbed the audience with its portrayal of a dialog between God and the last human who has killed all of humanity in the name of God. During the interval, students from Warizistan performed their traditional dance, which is also the national dance of Pakistan instilling upon the audience that the culture depicted by terrorists was completely alien to their traditional culture. This was followed by musical theatre by the Wahab Shah Theatre Group, which traversed the history of Pakistan since independence, depicting the political highs and lows (military rule) concluding with a sign of hopefulness thus uplifting the audience.
The breakout discussion sessions among youth were held for only 20 minutes rather than the scheduled 1 hour in which students discussed religion, media, culture, society and economy while putting their thoughts on placards in the form of slogans. Participants then joined the silent Peace Walk from Qaddafi Stadium to the Liberty Chowk holding placards, concluding their day long convention with a candle vigil in memory of their fellow citizens who have perished in acts of terrorism.
In its press release, IPSS asked the government to take a holistic approach to countering terrorism by burying the policy of Jihad (through non-state actors), bringing all religious infrastructure including madrassas and mosques under strict State regulation, revising the education curriculum and taking steps towards disassociating religion from all spheres of the State as stated by the founding father.
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