By Yasir Abbas
In September, I was selected to participate in a three day conference named “Dialogue and Inclusiveness – Central to Democracy” which was held in one of the most serene places of the country called Nathiagali. The conference lasted from 18thto 20th September 2012. It was held in light of the international day of democracy on the 15th of September 2012.
The expectations of this conference were generally high from my side as it included great panelists like Deputy Speaker National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi, Provincial Minister of Information Khyber PakhtunKhawa Mian iftikhar Hussain , Chairman Amendment Committee Senate, Senator Raza Rabbani, Vice President Insaf Student Federation Dr Ehsan Irfan and the veteran journalist, Ghazi Salahuddin.
Before the beginning of the conference I was hoping to gain a well thought out knowledge on issues relating to democracy and participate fully with the knowledge that I already have. I was keen and excited to represent my region Gilgit Baltistan as provincial team head, in this conference.
The conference started with the thought-provoking speech of the Deputy Speaker National Assembly and the Patron of the Youth Parliamentarians Forum, Faisal Karim Kundi who welcomed all the participants and enlightened everyone about the International Day of Democracy. It was followed by a questions and answers session which helped us all in communicating our misunderstandings and giving our point of views. The highlight of the second day was one of the most realistic yet emotional speeches delivered by the Provisional Minister for Information KPK, Mian Iftikhar Hussain. It was such a beautiful and infromative speech that totally changed my views about politics, politicians and democracy. Later we participated in cultural diversity celebration and talent hunt in which I represented Gilgit Baltistan and along with my friends from different provinces enjoyed the amalgamation of culture diversity.
The brink point of this conference was to make us all realize the power youth holds in Pakistan. What strikingly forced me to indulge myself in thinking process was question that echoed in my mind “What does it mean to be young in Pakistan” raised by the veteran journalist Ghazi Salahudin. This question made me realize that how youth can shape the budding democracy of Pakistan while showing respect to politics and politicians. With this conference I realized that the younger lot of Pakistan is politically and socially aware of the conditions that are eminent in our society. The Pakistani youth is confident and well energized to speak up about any topic that helps in removing the misunderstandings that might exist. Being part of the youth, I also feel the need to improve my country’s credentials and see my country on the top. Besides gaining good education for my country, I want to participate in such socially engulfing activities that make one ponder about the issues in the country.
The youth of this country want democratic values but they want a genuine democracy not a self-styled tailored democracy. They want a democracy that winds fairness, transparency and accountability. If that happens the youth is up for a new Pakistan— a Pakistan that will thrive by leaps and bounds.
Youth Conferences, however, should be organized periodically for cross-generational communication and learning. Free Speech, dialogue and open debates will bring about resolves to the thorniest issues that the country is currently entangled with.
The writer is a student of International Relations and hailing from Yasin, Gilgit-Baltistan