March 9th, 2022: The Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) of the National Assembly of Pakistan, and the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) organized a PARLIAMENTARY DIALOGUE on theme of “Anti Radicalization & Peace Building” on 9th March, 2022 at PIPS campus Islamabad. The event was attended by 30 participants including cross party young parliamentarians of National Parliament of Pakistan, members of PIPS, CPA and NA staff and distinguished delegates of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) including Acting Chair CPA Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger MP and Secraetry General CPA Hon. Mr. Stephen Twigg.
The event started with the recitation of Holy Quran. Hon. MNA Ms. Kanwal Shauzab, General Secretary YPF moderated the dialogue, who initially opened the floor for introduction of the participants. Afterwards, Executive Director PIPS, Mr. Muhammad Anwar gave formal presentation on working of the PIPS and its role in serving the National Parliament and Provincial Assemblies.
Hon. Ms Kanwal Shauzab, MNA, introduced the topic: “Anti-radicationalization/extremism and peace building,” and asked the panelists and participants of the dialogue to focus on following key questions:
Hon. MNA Ms Romina Khurshid Alam emphasized the need to engage youth in policy setting dialogues with MPs in addition to voluntary work; she re-called that YPF held deliberations across provinces to invite 1400 youth representatives and activities in 2014-15 to help federal and provincial governments in forming youth policies in line with their aspirations. She also proposed youth and MPs participation in enhanced inter-faith dialogue as means to promote social harmony.
Hon. Senator Sana Jamali stressed the need that political parties should give more representation to youth at the Parliament so that fresh ideas and voice of today is echoed in our policy for social harmony.
Hon. Ms Nausheen Iftikhar, MNA, recommended that YPF and forums like PIPS so invite and engage youth from rural areas in engaging them in knowledge sharing about how the parliament works and how democracy promises to deliver the basic human rights of citizens such as quality education, health, law and order as well as equal opportunity for poor and vulnerable elements in society. She believed only proactive role of Members of Parliament and YPF is a must to engage rural youth as a a priority.
Mr Muhammad Rashid Mafzool Zaka, Director General (Research) PIPS suggested that healthy bodies give way to healthy brains, which obviously are source of more tolerant society based on dialogue and harmony for minorities and vulnerable. Pakistan needs to revive its play grounds and provide its youth countrywide opportunities to excel in hockey, football, squash, snooker, cricket, boxing, kabaddi and wrestling as Sports train youth to be more tolerant with a live and let live approach in life. Pakistan’s legacy viz a viz world’s oldest Indus and Gandhara civilization give it a rich cultural heritage with folk, music, qawwali and mushaira in addition to history of Sufi tradition that can consolidate much cherished Unity of diversity amongst youth in particular. Ms Samer Awais, DG PDP, emphasized that YPF and parliamentary democracy must seek Mentors where seasoned MPs can provide MPs to play an imperative role in being effective public representatives promoting objective thinking and informed decision making, two basics to promote anti-extremist thinking.
Then, the Secretary General CPA Hon. Mr. Stephen Twigg deliberated on the occasion sharing his experiences of engaging young MPs under CPA platform. He appreciated the great work done by PIPS and YPF for parliamentary fraternity locally as well as at regional level and termed it a very sophisticated approach to providing support to Members of Parliament. He said when he was first elected a Member of Parliament almost 25 years ago; he was 30, so that he would have been eligible to be part of the young parliamentarians’ forum if such forum had been in the United Kingdom at that time.
He expressed that CPA Secretariat in London, can give practical support to PIPS but also enable you to share the expertise and knowledge that you’re developing globally with other Parliaments, as CPA engage all of the parliaments of the Commonwealth, both at national and sub national level, so CPA have 180 members, and the capacity within those members varies enormously. They’re very well developed, Parliament’s like yours, like the UK and, and other countries often have a lot of capacity. But we have Parliament’s that are serving very, very small populations or countries with low levels of income, where support from outside is absolutely critical. Realizing this CPA has launched the new CPA Academy which provides a suite of online resources for our members internationally, to undertake courses in their own time at their own pace.
He invited PIPS and YPF to join hands with CPA to get benefit of extended experience of CPA with regard to capacity enhancement. He shared that CPA is developing new courses all of the time, in the age of COVID online courses has helped a lot to keep services continued during unprecedented hard times.
Later on Hon. Mr. Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, the Acting Chair Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) addressed the roundtable. He appreciated the working of PIPS and Young Parliamentarians Forum. He expressed the Parliament of Pakistan is working very progressively on key global agendas such as women empowerment, conserving climate and implementing SDGs etc. We met last day the young school children on the theme of youth’s role in democracy. I found profound potential and energy among the youth which is key for ensuring a prosperous and bright democratic future of the country.
The handsome representation of youth in the Parliament is welcoming omen and it is inspiring source for the youth to work diligently and taking role of important tasks in future. He iterated that CPA recognize in a country like Pakistan, where 70% of the people are under 35 and across the Commonwealth, statistics show that 60% population is under 30. CPA hosts the Commonwealth Youth Parliament, which is not for young parliamentarians only but it’s for young people who are not parliamentarians, which meets annually. What CPA hasn’t had is a forum of any sort for our young members for young parliamentarians like YPF Pakistan which is definitely a great learning platform for young MPs.
In the end, Hon. Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi, President YPF gave Concluding Remarks and Vote of Thanks. He expressed the Young Parliamentarians’ Forum (YPF), since its inception in 2003 has been playing instrumental role in providing youth perspectives through legislation on matters of public concern, organizing seminars, conferences, at national as well as international level on subjects as pertinent as youth development and as sensitive as Kashmir conflict. The ideals of peace, harmony and state-building cannot be realized without leaving aside the differences in terms of religion, caste, creed, language and other social differences which should be taken only as a source of diversity in our society rather than hatred, animosity and acrimony. The conduct of the founding father of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, provides us noble example in this regard. He thanked all the participants who for attending this all important Parliamentary Dialogue focusing on peace building efforts through de-radicalization. At the conclusion of proceedings, Executive Director PIPS, Mr Muhammad Anwar presented the Souvenirs to Distinguished CPA Delegates.