Lahore became the first Pakistani city on Thursday to have three youth councils as part of an initiative of US State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues.
Karachi and Islamabad have a youth council each.
“Lahore’s three youth councils will join the ranks of 67 US Department of State sponsored youth councils in existence worldwide,” stated a press release issued on Friday.
According to the State Department’s website, “By engaging youth as partners and listening to their ideas, concerns, and aspirations, we can empower young people to become changemakers.”
The three councils that were officially announced at an iftar by Nina Maria Fite, the US Consul General in Lahore, are the Junior Youth Council (ages 10-15), the Youth Council (ages 16-18) and the Advanced Youth Council (ages 19-30).
Fite said the project was a continuation of the strong partnership between the US government and the Pakistani youth. “Youth councils will serve as advisory boards to consulate officials on important bilateral issues and create a platform for open and frank discussions between Pakistani youth and Americans on key policy issues affecting our two nations,” she said
The councils will have six coordinators: Anum Shahzad, Syed Faheem Ahmad, Waqas Rehmat, Naeema Butt, Sidra Ejaz and Mirza Awais Ahmed. The coordinators are all alumni of US Exchange Programme.
Butt, the Junior Youth Council coordinator, shared the council’s agenda, saying that they hoped to organise campaigns to raise awareness about child labour and environment. Also on the agenda is promotion of interfaith harmony. “We will go to mosques, temples and churches on August 14,” she said.
Sidra Ejaz, the coordinator for the Youth Council said, they planned to start the first community service project on August 3, under which members will collect gifts and donate them to the poor.
Shayan Zaeem, a Youth Council member, said he was looking forward to serving the community.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2013.