Minority Youth Exposure Program (MYEP) 2019

MYEP 2019 was a Minority Youth/ Educational Exchange Program which provided the opportunity to Minority Youth/ Students of Educational Institutions (with age limits of 18-29 years) throughout the province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) to spend a week long time and visit various parts of Pakistan in order to share ideas, explore new opportunities, see historical, cultural & heritage sites and to have social interaction with new people, policy/ law makers, diplomats, experts of various fields, educationalists and youth. Minority Youth Exposure is designed to increase dialogue about building the capacity of underrepresented minorities and understanding of their religion and culture. Guided by the principle that positive and social change rest on groundwork of understanding and acceptance, particularly of different communities and cultures, such exposure programs create opportunities for youth to develop confidence and build capacity.

The cross cultural program which spanned over seven days not only offered students an opportunity to be exposed to diverse cultures, but it required them to live among people from different faiths and respect them equally.

Objectives:

  1. Youth development and to strengthen skills and commitment to diversity
  2. Youth have better understanding, deeper respect for other religions and to develop sense of interfaith harmony
  3. Youth to develop positive work attitudes and multi-discipline approach and behavior skills.
  4. Youth gain valuable work experience through mentoring with professionals.
  5. Youth gain sense of acceptance, tolerance and learn to respect other religions.
  6. Youth to connect, build capacity, expand minds, broad perspectives, gain awareness

Goal:

The Department of Auqaf, Hajj, Religious & Minority Affairs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is committed to reaching out to marginalized and underrepresented minorities from all faiths. Through MYEP, the department provided exceptional opportunity for young and energetic people to learn about different ethnicities, politics, business and much more.

The department is dedicated to ensuring diversity and inclusivity and to increase the number of minorities entering various fields. Focused on the well-educated youth who have been studying in the educational institutions, youth exposure program provided selected participants the opportunity for an interactive session with motivational speakers, politicians, businessmen and academics. The purpose of the Exposure was to equip the youth with the skills to become civil-minded leaders and to expose the underrepresented minority to interact with other age fellows from different faiths, learn from experience by meeting people and places and things that they would not normally or easily experience in their daily life.

Proceedings & Highlights of the Minority Youth Exposure Program – 19

On April 8th, the Department of Auqaf, Hajj, Religious & Minority Affairs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa kicked off its first Minority Youth Exposure Program. As many as 100 students from different faiths including Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai and Ismaili participated in the one week long program where they participated in a variety of lectures, discussions, mentoring sessions and hands on activities with the goal of capacity building and practice of tolerance and acceptance. The three delegations commenced their journey with visiting chief minister house, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and Governor House. At the CM House, Adviser to CM for Science and Information technology Kamran Bangash welcomed and congratulated them for their acceptance into the MYEP, stressing that the one week program provides them skills which build their socio economic development. He ended by wishing them success and stressed that the onus was now on them. The 100 students then headed to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly where they spoke to Speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Mushtaq Ghani. He showed contentment and stated that they are not minority; they are non-Muslim Pakistanis, adding that the incumbent government is working on various projects that involve the development strategies and empowerment of non-Muslims. After the session concluded, they toured the KP Assembly and watched a live session. Later they visited Governor House. After visiting Peshawar, the delegations began their journey to three different destinations;

 

Trip to Karachi

The delegation that visited Karachi was comprised of 26 energetic students (all males) hailing from various districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. On the first day, they visited Manora Island, a well-known leisure place, small peninsula is a group of associated islands of Pakistani coastline along the Arabian Sea. The island lies approximately 15-20 minutes by boat ride. To celebrate the rich and varied cultural heritage, the delegation visited Shri Swaminarayan temple, Shri Varun Dev Temple, Gurdwara and All white painted All Saints Patrick Church. The students were briefed about the traditions and services followed at the holy sites and shared archeological importance and social hierarchy. The boys visited Insaf House and met opposition leader of Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi and MPA Khurram Sher Zaman, MPA Dr. Sanjay and MPA Ramesh Kumar who offered sessions on rights of minorities and how to halt the forced conversations of minorities. The officials appreciated the initiative taken by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and termed it a success for youth of minorities. On the second day, the Minority youth visited Institute of Business Administration Karachi where a meeting was conducted between Kamal Siddiqi, Director of center Of Excellence for Journalism. The interactive session explained the role of media in reporting issues of minority, citizen journalism and ethics of journalism.

Located in the vicinity of Saddar, the students visited National Museum of Pakistan that was established in 1951 in historical building of Frere Hall. The museum holds most diverse range of arts, paintings, relics, sculptures and models that depict history. The next day, they visited Karachi Stock Exchange where the Marketing manager Ubaid explained the procedure of stock exchange, the mechanism of shares & taxes and daily market summary. The second last day, they visited the curiously shaped Mazar-e-Quaid, the commanding mausoleum holds the remains of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. They visited Neuplex Cinema and watched Captain Marvel. They also visited World Food Program where the Karachi head Sheraz Ghazi and Deputy Home Manaher Abdul Haseeb briefed about the aim of WFP and how they ensure food safety. A productive question/answers session took place that encouraged the students to inquire about the ingoing activities at the WFP. On the last day, they visited PAF Museum Karachi where Aftab Ahmed briefed in detail about the aircrafts, weapons and radars displayed at the museum. They also visited Dolmen mall and Alladin Park. Participant Faraz Neakakhtar says he had the best experience to avail such exposure program as it taught him the message of peace. “We can live peacefully regardless of our religions, culture and different practices. I would really want to thank Auqaf department, liaison Corporation for their proper arrangements, providing us Maximum possible facilities and managing the conflicts between participants in way to keep the unity among them.”

 

Trip to Islamabad/Muzaffarabad

The delegation of minority youth that left for Islamabad/Muzaffarabad visited Prime Minister Office, Parliament House, Islamabad Chamber Of Commerce, National Institute of Health Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir University, AJK Directorate of Sports AJK, Quaid-e-Azam University, Lok Virsa, Lake View Park, Pir Chanasi Azad Kashmir and Kutton Azad Kashmir. A fruitful session was conducted with the Additional Secretary (legislation) of National Assembly Muhammad Mushtaq at the parliament house Islamabad in which the minorities delegation was briefed on the parliamentary processes of parliament with an aim to interact and gain firsthand knowledge of the institution. They were explained about the function of the parliament and law making. They were also given an explanation about legislative business, government bill (the rule of business 1973), the eligibility criteria of president, PM, MNA, chairman Senate and Speaker. They were also briefed with regard to the electoral and legislative process at the Senate of Pakistan. The Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Qasim Khan Suri thanked the delegation and vowed to provide them equal rights.

A meeting was commenced between special advisers to PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar. Dar welcomed them briefed the minorities of the ongoing and planned initiatives of the incumbent government that includes National Youth Development Framework, a youth-focused policy. He interacted with the youth and inquired about the challenges that they face and lie ahead and ensured them of equal rights. He also maintained that their legit grievances would be resolved and for that purpose, they have already initiated plans. Government is focused on mainstreaming of marginalized and minority youth of Pakistan, he said, Adding that the government is committed to ensure equal rights for them.

Another productive meeting with Adil Safi, the Deputy Secretary Prime Minister Office Incharge, Prime Minister Delivery Unit (PMDU) took place around 3:30pm with the purpose to brief the youth about PMDU. He explained that the role of PMDU is to drive delivery of service to the citizens by redressing complaints of citizens. The unit of PMDU will ensure that implementation problems and bottlenecks are identified and tackled promptly. While the MPA Wazirzada who hails from Chitral KP requested the Prime Minister to allocate a part for minorities in the PM housing scheme. The minority youth also visited National Institute of Health Islamabad at 9:00am where the professor Saboorul Hassan accompanied by scientific officers, Maqsood Ahmed and Razzaq gave a comprehensive session on microbiology, vaccination, pollen, how specimens are tested, analyzation of experiments and their research.

He also showed a demonstration of venom extraction from a wild snake. The youth visited Anti-allergy section and pollen rooms where they were given idea of how and where vaccines are made. Various sessions were held by renowned persons. One was conducted by Zeeshan Hoti, the president of provincial youth assembly KP. His topic was designed mainly to develop self-motivation among the minority youth. He spoke about how it was important to never give up by sharing his own story, he tried to refocus the learners to achieve their potential. The second session was held by Jalal Shirazi, Secretary of Provincial Youth Assembly, he also motivated the youth to take personal responsibility for their future.

The third interactive session was kicked off by motivational speaker Zayedan Khan. The session offered perspective to remove self-limiting beliefs and glass ceiling. He spoke about how it was necessary to get out of the comfort zone. He also engaged the minorities in activities.

The last session was commenced by Waseem Gohar (his designation). He listened to the grievances of minority youth and answered them one by one. He also asked them to pen the issues they have so they could be discussed in the National Assembly.

An interactive session was held between Mike Litman, motivational speaker and the founder of CEO MIKE’s INTERNATIONAL at QAU. His session offered humanity and love. He encouraged students to engage with people, places and buildings. He also spoke about personal development which plays a key role in achieving goals. The Secretary of Auqaf, Hajj, Religious & Minority Affairs Department Hassan Mahmood Yousafzai welcomed and thanked the delegation and termed the exposure program as ‘first of its kind’ Participants were delighted to experience such a program that enhanced their capacity building.

“Christian student from Peshawar Zunaira Michael says she knew a little about the Parliament House but after visiting the place, but now she knows a lot about Parliament house, how it works and why it is important. Another Bahai community participant Tooba Majeed stated that the program helped in provision of positive and unique experiences that empowered her to grow hope in her future. Participant Saranjeet Kaur from Sikh community Mardan said that the program helped her learn how to be positive in life, how to live with peace and respect other religions. She also said that the exposure program showed her colors of diversity and she practiced brotherhood and interfaith harmony in one week.

The students also participated in cleanliness campaign; they cleaned the footpaths of F-7 near Centaurus Mall. The youth also displayed what they learned during the program through testimonials and presentations. The program was concluded with a colorful cultural night to promote indigenous folk culture.

 

Trip to Lahore & Sialkot

The 35 member minority delegation that went to the walled city Lahore had a remarkable experience. The first day they visited the Ministers Enclaves.  The session was formally started with everyone’s introduction. Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs Ijaz Alam Augustine discussed the Minorities’ Empowerment Package wherein new legislative and implementation of existing laws that would help the marginalized religious communities.

They then visited the historical place Minar e Pakistan, the national tower build between “1960 – 1968”. A place where Lahore resolution was passed in 1948. Then Shahi Qilla (Lahore Fort), a citadel located at the northern end that holds a great significance as it has 21 historical monuments.

The next day they visited Lahore Museum (The primary purpose of visiting the museum was to engage and educate the Participants of MYEP about the rich history of the region.

Later, Furqan Fasahat and Awais Ghazi from Maratib Ali School of Education (SOE) conducted an information session to answer all the queries regarding the Education Leadership and Management Programme. Furthermore, Secretary Ahrama & MPA Ravi Kumar also joined the session & presented shield as token of appreciation to the hosts.

Moreover, the participants were introduced to the state of the art facilities that are placed at LUMS. Another session was arranged at NIC (National Incubation Center) LUMS that was about product development & developing a business model. Then the delegation paid a visit to Cathedral Church that was built in 1887, Cathedral Church of the Lahore is considered as one of the most Holy trinity with a sturdy fortress-like structure with a rectangular bell tower. Located in the hearth of Punjab (lahore), the cathedral offers some tranquility from the city bustle. MYEP 2019 participants met there with the Bishop (Arch Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw) they further talked on importance of Interfaith Harmony & peace building in Pakistan. In the end they prayed for the wellbeing of all participants & wished them good luck.

On the next day, they travelled to Punjab Secretariat where a session & briefing from Special Secretary Home Department, Punjab (Tariq Mahmood) about their Measures which are taken for safety of People in punjab especially belonging to other Faith & Religion. Moreover, he said that these are not only children from KP they are just like my children. He further appreciated the efforts of Auqaf Department & encouraged them to carry the same nature of activities in the future. Dr. Ahsan Bhatti serving as Deputy Secretary, Home Department Punjab briefed the participants about the security reforms that are carried out by the Punjab Government & share the stats from past 5 years showing a huge decline in the criminal activities.

Later, a Session with Pakistan Minority Unity Council was conducted where members of different religious communities were invited to discuss the empowerment program of youth & women in Pakistan.

On the next day they Visited Punjab Assembly where they were welcomed by the officials as well as the members of provincial assembly. MPA Samavia further briefly gave the visit to the delegates & told them about the history of the place. Moreover, MPA yawar khan discussed the economic condition of the country with delegates & briefed them about the strategic plan of current government regarding financial stability & loan free Pakistan. In between the discussion MPA Haroon gill also joined the delegation & appreciated the efforts made by Auqaf dept & KP Government.

Later they paid a Visit to Shaukat Khanam Memorial Trust and were briefed and then visited Fortress square where they watched movie ‘Sherdil’ Chanting Pakistan Zindabad, the students visited the Wagah Border on the next day and cheered for the country.