In order to engage and empower the British Pakistani youth, Pakistan High Commission London, organized its first ever “Youth Convention 2015” on Saturday, 14 February 2015. More than 150 British Pakistan students and young professionals as ...well as students from Pakistan currently studying in the UK were in attendance during the day-long Convention.
The event was divided into four sessions that revolved around the following themes: Pakistan beyond headlines and ‘Homeland’; Engaging and empowering the youth; Setting the Pakistani Context in Social Enterprise; and Culture of Pakistan. The Convention provided a unique opportunity to the youth to interact and debate with renowned experts and scholars from diverse fields including politics, media, academia, social enterprise, government, business, culture and performing arts. Representatives of the youth and student unions were also among the panelists.
A wide variety of issues were discussed in an open and candid manner. The speakers dwelt upon themes like ‘positivity about Pakistan’ that often submerges in headlines of poorly-informed Western media; issues of identity and how British Pakistani youth could benefit from vast opportunities on offer in the UK by mainstreaming themselves; tremendous opportunities in social enterprise for the Pakistani youth; and how rich art and culture of Pakistan could transcend various ethnic and linguistic barriers and build bridges between the Pakistani and the British communities.
The speakers, well-versed with Pakistan as they were, informed the students that there was no doubt Pakistan was facing a lot of challenges, yet negativity about Pakistan in the Western media was mainly the product of geo-politics as well as ignorance of the Western media about Pakistan. Diversity of cultures, hospitality of people and beauty of the landscape are the cherished aspects of Pakistan that find little mention in the mainstream Western media, noted the speakers critically. They expressed faith in the capabilities of the Pakistani as well as British Pakistani youth and urged them to make the most of the available opportunities in both the countries.
Particularly, the British Pakistani youth was urged to adhere to the democratic values of the British society and become part of the mainstream to make their mark on the national life.
An exclusive session, arranged in collaboration with the British Council, Pakistan was dedicated to the opportunities for Pakistani youth in the social entrepreneurship in Pakistan. The experts from the British Council, Pakistan and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan briefed the youth about scope of social enterprise in Pakistan.
In his brief welcome remarks, High Commissioner Syed Ibne Abbas said:
“I am delighted to see our youth in such a large number at the Convention. This Convention has been organized because, from the very outset, I wanted to connect and interact with young Pakistani diaspora. I want you to become a productive part of the British society and, simultaneously, it was an effort to introduce you to the opportunities available to you in Pakistan.”
The High Commissioner also announced to make the “Youth Convention” an annual feature in High Commission’s calendar of activities.
The youth showed great interest in the Convention and appreciated High Commission’s initiative to provide them a platform to get together and exchange ideas.
The panelists included Rehman Chishti MP, Peter Oborne, Kristiane Backer, Zia ud Din Sardar, George Fulton, Dr Amina Yaqeen, Fida Hussain, Imran Ali, Tommy Hutchinson, Mashalle Asim and Kubair Shirazee. Comedian Beo Zafar presented stand-up comedy and discussed various aspects of Pakistani culture with comedian Atif Nawaz. Huma Yusuf, Sanam Kubra Siddiqui, Suniya Qureshi and Jawiria Naseem moderated the sessions.