Call for Youth involvement in the UN Progress study on the role of youth in international peace and security

By Talal Raza

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In the wake of 9/11 attacks, the Global War on Terror began in Afghanistan to hunt down terrorists responsible for disrupting the peace of the world. Pakistan also joined the coalition and provided logistical support to NATO and US armed forces to carry out their military operations inside Afghanistan. However, the subsequent backlash from the home gown terrorists for aiding the NATO forces was overwhelming. Eventually in 2007, we came to a point where there used to be a suicide terrorist attack at least once a week in major urban centers of Pakistan.

The government opted for various measures to deal with terrorism. From intermittent military operations to half-hearted political reconciliation initiatives, a number of strategies were tested to contain the menace of terrorism. Although, the security situation has considerably improved since then, the battle to root out extremism from the society continues.

In the midst of this, Pakistanis have been trying to evolve an intellectual discourse to discern the root causes of extremism. Amid many factors, one of the root causes for violent extremism highlighted was the bulging youth population. However, hardly such forums acknowledged the role of young peace builders within their respective communities. Ironically, the onus of rising extremism was put on youth despite that they had been excluded at all levels of decision making.

Despite this, in the wake of UN Security Council Resolution 2250, the calls for UN progress Study highlighting the role of youth in peace and security is a welcome step. At the moment, a lead author and an Advisory Group has also been notified by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to conduct the progress study. Furthermore, the nomination of two Pakistanis in the Advisory group gives immense pleasure and satisfaction that Pakistan is represented well in the group.

However, it seems that the lead author and the Advisory Group have been given meager time and resources to complete a gigantic task. With only two people from Pakistan in the Advisory Group, it would be impossible for them to map genuine stories of many young peace builders working in Pakistan in a short span of time.  Moreover, since the report is about youth, it is the hope of many young peace activists from Pakistan that their feedback is also given due weightage in the study.

In this regard, I believe that a Pakistan based youth advisory committee for the progress study should be established by the UN Pakistan. The Pakistan youth advisory committee shall comprise of members of youth-led NGOs, youth leaders and young academicians aged 18-29. The Youth advisory committee will work in liaison with Advisory Group members from Pakistan and help them prepare a country specific study on the “Role of Pakistani youth in peace and security.” The report shall be submitted for review to the Advisory Group. After the approval, the main highlights of the country specific report could be incorporated by the lead author.

This advisory committee won’t be a liability on UNDP in any way as the committee would function on voluntary basis. Once the report is submitted, it will be up to you to either dissolve the committee or assign them other tasks.

In fact, the same model could be replicated in every country so that more youth leaders are able to share their stories and contributions towards peace.

I have already shared my ideas with Pakistan’s UN Resident Coordinator almost a fortnight ago. I have also written to UN Youth envoy. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear from them.

 

Note: 

For the past five years, Talal has been working with different youth led organizations in areas of education and peace. Currently, he is working with Bytes for All, Pakistan on internet rights and also pursuing an independent research with the USIP’s research grant. He can be reached at talalraza@rocketmail.com

Two-day national conference organized by PCS

Department of Peace and Conflict Studies organized a two-day National Conference here at National Defence University Islamabad.

The conference was organized under the title of  “Pakistan’s Policy of Countering Violent Extremism: Progress and Challenges” in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Renowned academicians and intellectuals from across Pakistan were invited to share their thoughts on the contentious issue of extremism plaguing Pakistan.

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The Nation adds: 

Top academicians and scholars have said that flawed policies at home and troubled relations with India and Afghanistan are aggravating ethnic, tribal and religious militancy, urging civil and military leadership to revisit the policies.
“The flawed policies of Pakistani state and our troubled relationship with India and Afghanistan are responsible for our difficulties,” said Prof Dr Tahir Amin, Vice Chancellor Bahauddin Zakaria University, Multan.
He was speaking on the inaugural day of the two-day National Conference organised by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Department of Peace and Conflict Studies of National Defence University on the issue of “Pakistan’s Policy of Countering Violent Extremism: Progress and Challenges.
”The conference is being organised to create a discourse on Pakistan’s internal and external security challenges due to violent extremism and the actions taken against them, said Dr Arshi Saleem Hashmi, the conference coordinator.
Prof Amin suggested that a perfect implementation of rule of law; continuity of democratic process; socio-economic justice; sensitivity to ethnic, linguistic and cultural plurality; as well as paradigmatic shift in foreign policy towards neighbours are the factors necessary to build upon the successes achieved by Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
He stated that FATA should be made a separate province to overcome the tribal and ethnic militancy.
The conference is being attended by eminent scholars from across the country including Prof Moonis Ahmar, Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, Dr Minhas Majeed Khan, Dr Farhan Hanif Siddiqui and Dr Naeem Ahmed.
Prof Moonis Ahmar, Dean Faculty of Social Science and Meritorious Professor at the University of Karachi, while presenting his research paper on “Conceptual Understanding of Violent Extremism: Pakistan and the Predicament of Youth” said, “Extremism, if not controlled, can take a violent shape, it can polarise the youth of the country, and destabilise not only society but also the state.
He suggested that extremism in its violent form evolves in the minds of people and can only be overcome if there is positive transformation of human minds to have tolerance.
Dr Minhas Majeed, Assistant Professor at the Department of IR, University of Peshawar, highlighted the “New Dynamics of the Post 9/11 Redefinition of Violence in the name of Religion” during the seminar.
She was of the view that the unpredictable menace of religious intolerance and extremism that emanates from internal as well as external security issues has not only disrupted the social fabric of society but has also impacted Pakistan’s standing in religion and global politics.
She also referred to a survey study quoting that sectarian violence in Pakistan has been decreased by 48 percent from 2009-2015.
Prof Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi, political and defence analyst said that the radical mindset was initially created by socialisation process initiated by Pakistani government through education and by using media as well as the state machinery.
The militant organisations have wrong perception about Islam.
He analysed the social and political change in violent manifestation of religio-political objectives.
D Farhan Hanif Siddiqui, associate professor at Quaid-e-Azam University, was of the view that besides religion, intolerance and radicalisation are prevalent in our restive political culture.
He presented his findings specifically on “Rising Intolerance and Radicalisation Leading to Violent Extremism in Pakistan.
”Dr Naeem Ahmed, associate professor at department of international relations, University of Karachi, also highlighted that the dangerous phase of sectarian menace began after 9/11 incident when the domestic sectarian militant organisations established their links with international terrorist groups e.g. al-Qaeda and IS and started playing the role of the facilitator and also became part of global Jihadism.
In a robust discussion that followed during the sessions, participants agreed that civilian government and military should work in liaison with each other for the ultimate elimination of the militant sectarian groups, which is largely dependent upon the determination and political will of the state.
The seminar was well attended by policymakers, legal experts, members of civil society and media, and a large number of students.

Pak observer: 

ZARB-E-AZB IN FINAL STAGE: JANJUA

Islamabad—Reintegration and reconciliation strategies are the only alternative policy measures required to ensure stable and sustainable Pak-Afghan relations. National Security Adviser Lt General (R) Nasser Khan Janjua said this while addressing on the second day of the two-day National Conference organized by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Department of Peace and Conflict Studies of National Defence University here Thursday. The title of the conference was “Pakistan’s Policy of Countering Violent Extremism: Progress and Challenges”.
Gen Janjua highlighted civil-military cooperation observed in Operation Zarb-e-Azb saying terrorism would be wiped out as a result of the joint efforts by the civil and military leaderships.
He asked the participants, especially the youth to dig deeper and understand the history and conflicts going on and start asking questions.
Major General Fida Hussain Malik in his brief address suggested there should be a non-Interference treaty between Pakistan and Afghanistan. “It is essential for Pakistan to take a correct measure of all the implications and fallouts of instability in Afghanistan that directly affect Pakistan’s own security situation,” he said.
Dr Tughral Yamin informed the audience that Operation Zarb-e-Azb was in the final phase and the results and successes are already visible in the form of national confidence and return of meaningful Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

‘India wants peaceful Pakistan under its influence’

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”Friends quarrel but they remain friends. Enemies cooperate, but they remain enemies.”

This is how lecturer from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad Mr. Raja Qaiser described the Indo-Pak relations while speaking to a group of students here at Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, National Defence University.

Mr. Qaiser presented his views on Indo-Pak relations from Indian perspective.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr.Raja said that India wanted a peaceful Pakistan under its influence in South Asia.

Mr.Qaiser noted that the current BJP led government in India didn’t want to consider Pakistan a significant actor in its security calculus.  He said that the minus Pakistan Indian policy for SAARC won’t succeed as both countries were interconnected and embedded in mutual hostility.

Mr. Qaiser also said that the Indo-Pak relations had “regressive ability” which meant that no matter how much they flourished, one event could bring down the progress made in harmonizing the relations.

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Explaining the attitudes of International community towards India and Pakistan, Mr. Raja noted that the Global powers had the tendency to bracket India with China and Pakistan with Afghanistan.  He said that the US-India nuclear deal signed in 2008 was a moment of silence for Pakistan as we remained American allies in war against terrorism.

He said that the Indian values of liberal democracy, composite culture and secularism had been replaced by Hindutva and Majoritarianism.

He said that a neutral government in Afghanistan with its face towards Pakistan, rather India, is needed for Pakistan.

 

A call for Peace through poetry

The following Poem is written by PCS M Phil Scholar Eman Malik in remembrance of her brother Lt. Faiz Sultan Malik who embraced Martydom on June 11, 2009 while fighting against militants in Mohmand Agency.

Praising the bravery of his brother, Ms. Eman Malik said that his brother volunteered for the Operation Sher Dil against terrorists in Mohmand Agency in 2009.

“He led his men with exemplary motivation & successfully got control of two mountain ridges, named Zaray SAR & Sur Qammar from where terrorists used to control whole Mohmand agency. Lt Faiz rescued an injured soldier as well,” Ms. Malik said adding that he managed to eliminate 35 terrorists.

Ms.Eman said that his brother finally embraced martyrdom by receiving 22 bullets in his chest. Owing to intense fighting between army and the militants, his body could not be recovered for two days from the mountain slope.

In the light of his sacrifices, Lt. Sultan was awarded Sitara-e-Basaalat.Eman malik poem

PCS Activities (2014-2015)

Greetings from the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies
Here’s to share the activities and achievements by the Students and Faculty of the department of PCS. Since its inception in 2008 as the first department in Pakistan providing degrees in Peace and Conflict Studies, we have produced not only numerous Masters and MPhil students but we have awarded maximum number of PhDs degrees in NDU.
We are proud of being the pioneers in this discipline. Following on our footsteps, other renowned institutions across Pakistan have also set up Peace Studies Departments and offering degrees in this discipline. As a result of our efforts, not only Higher Education Commission has recognized Peace and Conflict Studies as a separate discipline but also formed the first ever National Curriculum Revision Committee for Peace and Conflict Studies.

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Throughout the year, PCS faculty and students have been actively engaged not only in research and collaboration but also represented NDU on different national and international forums.
Here’s to share with you briefly PCS activities during the year 2014-2015.
National Conference
On March 17-18, 2015, PCS held a two-day national conference on “Challenges to Human Security and Development in Pakistan”, scholars and educationists from various universities of Pakistan participated in the conference. Before this conference, PCS department organized its first national conference on ” Issues of National Integration and Harmony in Pakistan” which was held in 2014 and resulted in a book under the same title published by Konrad Adenuer Stiftung(KAS) . In 2016, we are planning the third National Conference in the month of March. We also intend to organize an International Conference at our department next year.
Alumni Lecture Series
PCS has also been inviting former students of PCS under “Alumni Lecture Series” to share their experiences in the field , we had former students who are now working in different capacities shared their experiences as a professional.
Research and Collaboration:
• PCS Head of the Department Dr. Ishtiaq Chaudhary presented a paper on local bodies system in a seminar on “Devolution of Power to Local Governments, Challenges and Reforms” organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute” on September 30, 2015.
• Associate Professor , Dr. Arshi Saleem Hashmi has published a paper on ” Pakistan Protection Act ” in the Pakistan Journal of History and Culture,Qauid-e-Azam University and another paper on Conflict Prevention Mechanism in Pakistan published by Program on Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, International Relations Department, University of Karachi. She also presented a paper on ” ISIL and Radicalization in South Asia” at the international seminar organized by the National Defence University in Washington DC.
• Assistant professor Dr. Khurram Iqbal authored a book “The Making of Pakistani Human Bombs”.
• Assistant Professor Maria Saifuddin Effendi has published a chapter “The Dynamics of Conflict Prevention: Concepts and Approaches”, in Moonis Ahmar (ed.), The Challenge of Conflict Prevention in Pakistan: A Case Study of Karachi, Karachi: BCCT University of Karachi, 2015.
• MSc Graduate Mariam Akhtar published a paper on “Insurgencies in South Asia: A Comparative case study of India’s Maoist and Pakistani Taliban”, published by Margalla Papers, special edition 2015.
• M Phil Scholars Hammad Khan and Talal Mustahsan Raza presented a paper on “Militancy in Pakistan” on behalf of NDU delegation during a five day National Harmony Workshop organized on May 11-15, 2015 by National Defence University and Higher Education Commission.
Faculty News
• Associate professor Dr. Arshi Saleem Hashmi attended an Executive Education Program on Counter Terrorism at Harvard University held on April 26-May 01, 2015. She is currently at Yale University, USA as Yale World Fellow 2015.
• Assistant Professor Dr. Khurram Iqbal is nominated by President NDU to participate in 18th International Symposium titled “Security in the Asia Pacific Region and China’s Peaceful Development” in College of Defence Studies (CDS), NDU China. The event is scheduled from 15-30 October 2015
• Assistant Professor Maria Saifuddin Effendi is selected as Academic Advisor for Rotary Peace Centers Committee, Rotary International (USA). She is the only Pakistani and the only South Asian who is part of the selection panel for Rotary World Peace Fellowship 2016-18.
• Assistant Professor Maria Saifuddin Effendi has been part of Track II initiative between India Pakistan Militaries, known as “Ottawa Military to Military Dialogue in 2014. She participated in two dialogues in February and November 2014.
• Lecturer Ali Irtiza represented NDU in training on “Transnational Organized Crime and Non-traditional threats to security in Germany on August 19-September 03, 2015 organized by George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and attended by participants from 49 different countries.

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Student activities
• M Phil Scholar Imran Ali has been selected among eight youth representatives from Pakistan to participate in Afghan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) Youth Dialogue with Afghan youth delegation. This dialogue has been jointly organized by Peace Education and Development Foundation (PEAD) and Afghanistan New Generation Organization, Kabul.
• M Phil Scholar Talal Mustahsan Raza has been selected as Member 7th Youth Parliament Pakistan (2015) administered by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).
• M Phil scholars Sajid Mehsud and Talal Mustahsan Raza were selected for a virtual internship at Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform. Both students were selected on merit among 100 interns from across Pakistan out of 15000 applications received.
• MSc student Zahid Rehman was selected to participate in a training on Conflict resolution organized by Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, Queen’s University, in Belfast UK.
• PCS students under the supervision of Assistant Professor Maria Saif-uddin Effendi have set up a blog to promote the message of peace and stability

 

Understanding Indo-Pak relations from Peace Paradigm

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Courtesy Express Tribune

By Talal Raza

The relations between India and Pakistan have touched the lowest ebb. Thanks to the vitriolic anti-Pakistan rhetoric of Modi-led government coupled with protracted border clashes between India and Pakistan, the two countries are finding it hard to revive the political dialogue process.

maria cover picTo understand Indo-Pak relations from Peace Paradigm, this scribe interviewed Assistant Professor Ma’m Maria Effendi. Miss Maria has been part of Track II Dialogue between India and Pakistan Militaries, known as “Ottawa Military to Military Dialogue” during the year 2014. Representing as an academician in Pakistan’s delegation, Miss. Maria not only interacted with Indian delegation comprising of career diplomats, academics and former military personnel but also presented a paper on “Confidence building measures: past, present and future”

What confidence building measures should Pakistan and India take?

Continuous dialogue…a political will that dialogue will never be disrupted at any point of time… Whether there is some triggering incident….international trend or something like that. Willingness from both parties to stick together towards better and more fruitful dialogue is the key diplomatically, politically and militarily. Whenever there is some border clash, the two countries are far away from each other. They do not even intend to talk to each other. That is the wrong approach. At the same time I also do not encourage this idea that the two countries keep on promising that we would resolve or manage Kashmir conflict or Indo-Pak differences through dialogue and at the same time borders are tensed. Diplomatic statements for peace process are undone with every mortar bombing killing innocent civilians near border areas. That trend should be discouraged immediately. That means both countries’leadership should go back to constituencies that is their people. They should develop consensus on how India and Pakistan should move towards peace process in a sustainable way. You cant resolve Kashmir conflict unless and until all factions of the society are involved.  Here, on our side, political and military factions are on board. But somehow civil society is lagging behind, economists, artists or other factions or even religious leaders are not on board.  Unfortunately, fanatics try to overshadow and derail peace process on both sides…A few days ago there was a book launching ceremony of Former Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri during which blank ink was thrown on the organizer. That incident is a harsh statement that we are not ready to talk. We are not going to cater you as our neighbor. When you have such incidents then it’s a long way to achieve.

Some people in Pakistan argue that Kashmir issue should be put at the back burner for some time and instead, Pakistan and India should look for economic integration in the first place. Do you agree with this argument?

I do not buy this argument.  We have fought three major wars and endless skirmishes on the border due to the single cause of Kashmir. Pakistan calls it a human rights issue. India doesn’t see it in that way rather defines it as cross border terrorism. Both countries are interpreting conflict in their own way. What we need is not to freeze Kashmir or put it on back burner. Even if one wants to achieve economic collaboration, how will they go ahead when they already know they have a long history of acrimony on the single cause of Kashmir where thousands  of the  people have been killed brutally, women were raped etc etc. We can surely talk about other things but Kashmir is on the top. Kashmir is the foremost issue to be resolved, you cant put it on back burner anyways.

 

‘Positive attitude key to success,’ Social activist Durdana Ansari OBE

ISLAMABAD: Journalist and social activist Ms.Durdana Ansari OBE delivered a motivational lecture on career building here at Department of Peace and Conflict Studies.

Ms.Durdana Ansari addressing students
Ms.Durdana Ansari addressing students

Ms. Durdana Ansari OBE is the Chief Executive Director of Pearl Education Foundation. Previously, she had worked for the BBC World Service for 22 years as a producer. Owing to her services, she was also awarded Order of the British Empire (OBE) by British Queen Elizabeth.

Addressing the students, Ms. Ansari said that only the positive attitude could bring success in life.  She said that success was not possible without igniting the fire of passion. She regretted that there was lack of right attitude and behavior in our society.

Sharing stories from her life, Ms.Durdana urged students to develop self-confidence in them and try to opt for simple language to communicate effectively.

Emphasizing the importance of community service, Ms.Durdana urged students to develop their professional skills through volunteer work.

Concluding her address, Mr.Ansari said, “Be assertive and alert of your surroundings. Avoid accidents. Some things happen accidently but in some cases, you are equally responsible for the mishaps.”

A group photo of Ms.Durdana Ansari with PCS faculty members and students.
A group photo of Ms.Durdana Ansari with PCS faculty members and students.