KARACHI: It may not be wise to put all your eggs in one basket but the speakers at the Youth Peace Summit have placed all the responsibility of a peaceful Karachi on its youth.
As many as 600 young men and women, between the ages of 18 and 25, are taking part in the three-day summit being held at the Pearl Continental hotel till August 14. The summit is part of the larger ‘I Am Karachi’ campaign that aims to reclaim Karachi and instil a sense of ownership within its residents.
Tuesday’s seminar started with the national anthem, following by a performance of a play by Tehreek-e-Niswan, ‘Kirchi Kirchi Karachi’, which focuses on the main reasons behind the unrest in Karachi. It depicts the old times when Karachi was peaceful.
The speakers also talked about how Karachi was lost to the violence and intolerance. “Whether it’s Nishtar Road, Napier Road or Zaibunnisa Street in Saddar, they are all part of Karachi’s beauty,” said Sibtain Naqvi, the keynote speaker. “There are many people who have given their own flavours to this city of lights.”
Naqvi used the word ‘mizaj’. “This word clearly explains the temperament of Karachi. Landmarks in the city tell stories of excitement, humour, joy, emotions, love and much more.”
He felt that people need to change their mindsets. “Karachi can be a peaceful place only when the public and private sectors work together for the betterment of the city,” he said, talking to The Express Tribune. “People can’t blame the law enforcers for every crime. They should step up themselves if they want a peaceful city.”
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sindh general secretary Nehal Hashmi also agreed with Naqvi. He was convinced that change will be brought by the young residents of the city. “These young people are the ones most affected by the violence as they have been brought up on fearful situations,” he said. “They have the capability to make change and stand for what is right.”
He also reminisced about the time when Karachi was leading in all fields, such as fashion, education and the economy. “We are looking forward for that time to come back,” he said, urging the participants to own Karachi.
Later, the political representatives were invited for a panel discussion on the problems of young people in the city. “We should not create distances among the young people by reinforcing differences of caste, religion or opinion,” said cultural adviser Sharmila Farooqi, adding that this will indirectly hurt the city.
The commissioner, Shoaib Siddiqui, also stressed that peace will not come to Karachi merely by saying ‘peace’. “People will have to stand up and do their part in bringing back the lights of Karachi,” he said.
The organisers had placed a comment chart in the hall for the participant to write their views on what they want to happen in Karachi. “It’s a campaign for the people of Karachi,” said Chanan Development Association’s executive director Muhammad Shahzad. “We want the young men and women to tell us how they want Karachi to be in the future.”
The 600 participants of the summit have been shortlisted from 1,500 online applications.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2014.