ISLAMABAD: National Youth Conference started here on Wednesday with an objective to engage faculty members and students from prominent universities and seminaries for devising a Pakistan-specific national strategy for countering on-campus religious extremism.
National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has arranged the two-day conference – countering violent extremism on campuses, which will be vital for strategizing a coordination framework within which the Higher Education Commission (HEC), universities and the civil society may work in tandem to eradicate extremism on the campuses through programmes that promote exclusivity and peaceful coexistence.
At an inaugural session, NACTA National Coordinator Dr Muhammad Suleman Khan said that the authority has already launched a Youth Engagement Programme (YEP) and adopted much more vigorous approach to prevent youth from falling to violent extremism. He said that the central and core principle of youth engagement strategy revolves around preventing violent extremism.
The authority also planned short and long-term strategy and in first phase of short-term programme, 46 universities both public and private across the country have been identified. Dr Suleman said that Pakistan’s youth, who in number were 62 per cent of the total population would have to come forward against the ongoing war on terror by engaging themselves in positive activities, eliminating hate and extremist culture from the society, especially from amongst university and seminary students.
He said that the conference would be followed by deliberations with relevant stakeholders and experts for formulating policy recommendations and devising practical action plans for their implementation. The first day of the conference ended upon disbursing of participants into 10 thematic group discussions to compile recommendations on the day second for final suggestions and guidelines to devise a comprehensive policy against violent extremism in the educational institutions.
Around 200 participants from all over Pakistan are attending the conference, amongst them are vice chancellors, faculty members, students senior office holders of various educational and vocational institutes including some of seminary students and faculty members of more than 25 universities.
Dr Suleman also condemned terror attack at Peshawar where innocent civilians were exercising their basic right of choosing democratic government of their own choice. “It was a coward act of a fistful extremist persons filled with hatred and vicious agenda, it is that evil mindset against which we all have gathered here today,” he said.