ROLE OF YOUTH FOR A PEACEFUL AND TOLERANT SOCIETY IN PAKISTAN
SYEDA ATIFA BUKHARI
FEDERAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, ISLAMABAD
Youth is our present as well as our future. Future can be predicted by youth. Success and failure of a society is to some extent in the hands of its youth. It represents past achievements of its nation besides its upcoming success. One can evaluate a society’s yesterday and tomorrow via looking at its young people.
Youth refers to “a period of age when one is young, full of energy and physically, mentally and psychologically at its peak”. It can be denoted by the top or the highest point of a hill where rise ends and fall starts. So, youth is where one is highly equipped with physical, mental and psychological health and enthusiasm, determination, energy, ambition and courage. All these characteristics enable one to contribute towards building society. This contribution can be individual or collective.
The greatest thing in life is internal peace, external peace and global peace!
What is happiness and how can it be achieved? Some suggest it is the combination of self esteem, gratitude, sharing, daily laughter and inner peace.
Peace is the key ingredient to happiness.
How can we give the gift of happiness to the world? By helping others! We all know it is better to give than to receive. When we give, we all receive.
Peace within means peace without.
Young people have a strong desire to consume their energy and potential. For that they find ways where and how they can fulfill this desire. The state can and should do something to utilize its youth in creative and nation building activities as much as it can. Youth plays a vital role in developing and maintaining a peaceful society socially, politically, domestically and religiously.
We are living in the age of intolerance where two World Wars have taken away the peace of the world. We are living in this world where globalization, colonialism, modernism, industrialization and urbanization have brought us to the edge of destruction. The crucial time has come to plan and act upon how to save the world. For that we need to unite, guide and strengthen the youth.
Even in these modern times it is clear that one’s precious life is not safe. No former generation has had to experience as much insecurity as we face today. This constant awareness of fear and tension makes sensitive and compassionate people seriously question the progress of the modern world.
It is ironic that the more serious problems emanate in industrially advanced societies. Science and technology have worked wonders in many fields, but the basic human problems remain unresolved. There is unprecedented literacy, yet universal education does not seem to have fostered goodness, but only mental restlessness and discontent. There is no doubt about increase in our material progress and technology, but this is not sufficient as we have not yet succeeded in bringing about peace and happiness and overcoming suffering.
Pakistan is a Muslim and developing country in Asia. Although it is the first and the only nuclear power of the Muslim world, it depends on first world countries for its survival. It is an agricultural country but its nation is confronted with food crisis. Although it is well known for having the best canal system in the world, its nation is deprived of clean drinking water and is suffering from load shedding on a daily basis.
No one can deny the unprecedented material benefit of science and technology, but our basic human problems remain. We are still faced with the same – if not more – suffering, fear and tension. Thus it is only logical to try to strike a balance between material developments on the one hand and the development of spiritual and human values on the other. In order to bring about this great adjustment, we need to revive our humanitarian values.
There are some Peace Education Programs being conducted in the world. The Peace Education projects are fundamental to the Youth for Peace program and provides the building blocks for additional components of the program. These are designed to help students construct a critical understanding of themselves and their responsibilities for those around them. It helps them understand their individual roles in building a just and peaceful society. Though they realize many people believe peace is impossible, the main goal of World Peace Newsletter of World Peace Enterprises is to promote World Peace as a viable possibility by breaking it down into small steps. Step 1: Find Peace within. Step 2: Teach others the ways of Peace. Step 3: Help those less fortunate than yourself, even those that you may be at “war” with. Step 4: Strive to Evolve (Human Evolution). The steps keep going until we reach paradise: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All!
Pakistan was created over sixty years ago and is still facing numerous problems like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and overpopulation. Above all “terrorism” is the major existing problem of the recent times. The Pakistani nation feels insecure and fearful, as no one is sure about his or her survival. This makes the nation restless, mistrustful, unhealthy, intolerant and in a continuous state of warfare. Children, women, young and old people are being victimized by this situation. Anyone can be killed at any time, any place and in any way such as bomb blasts, suicide bombing and firing.
Terrorism is the leading issue of Pakistan nowadays. Therefore, the Pakistani nation looks threatened, helpless and even hopeless in this matter and people are getting used to terror by experiencing it every day. In spite of this hopelessness in the society we can see a ray of hope in our youngsters. They want to do something beneficial to serve their nation for which they need to be given guidance, power, opportunities and active participation on grass root level. As we can observe, the majority of active members in terrorist gangs are young people They can play a magnificent role in eliminating terror in our society by denying their participation in these inhuman activities. They must learn that compassion is the pillar of world peace. The greatest man in the world, the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) must be an example to us. He tolerated and forgave his enemies in numerous incidents to establish a peaceful Muslim society.
Pakistan is a Muslim country and it came into being in the name of Islam. The slogan of Pakistan at the time of its creation was: ???
Some so called religious people spread and preach unislamic teachings in the name of Islam. They exploit religion. They horrify people to Islamize the nation and to enforce Shariah though they themselves are ignorant. They brain wash people especially the young by propagating a false and intolerant interpretation of Islam. Here lies the young people’s responsibility to become educated the right way instead of being made pawns in the hands of these cruel people. They should be aware of the basic do’s and don’ts of Islam.
The literal meaning of the word ‘Islam’ is ‘Peace’
They must understand and be aware of the needs and demands of today so that they are equiped with both religious and mundane knowledge. Youth should be dutiful in spreading correct and authentic knowledge among others. They should not fight for terrorists but should fight against them. Islam is not what terrorists trainers say but what Allah and His Messenger teaches. Allah says in The Holy Quran:
“That whoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption on earth, it shall be as if he had killed all humankind and who so saveth the life of one, it shall as if he had saved the life of all humankind”. (Al-Maidah 5:32)
The ultimate purpose of all religions is to serve and benefit humanity.
One can understand that illiteracy, poverty and unemployment are some of the major reasons behind youth becoming a part of this mafia. Youth should understand that we will fight to eradicate these problems. Everyone can play a vital role on their part by utilizing their potential and abilities. Youth can spread the message of peace world wide. Here we can say that:
“Youth is a ray of hope”.
Pakistani young working people can collectively play a very important role in peaceful and tolerance society by creating unions on an organizational level. Young professionals can take part in promoting peace within their jobs according to their skills and abilities. For instance, a teacher – formal or informal – can teach how to tolerate and avoid aggressive behavior in our daily lives. Young people on managerial posts can plan and act upon peace promoting strategies and policies using their authority.
Learn Peace – Teach Peace!
Pakistan ranks second world wide in corruption. It resides in our society from the level of a peon to the presidential level. Its termination is necessary for our country’s survival. Considerable work needs to be done in this area individually and collectively in every profession and field. It is obligatory for every individual, young or old, to be honest to the State as well as to himself in all aspects of life.
School and college life is the most memorable and active period of anyone’s life. Students have contributed in providing services throughout the history of the world. They have played an effective role in promoting peace by uniting themselves for a cause. They are social by nature and full of potential and always ready to struggle and to fight for national cause. For instance, the students of sub-continent in Pakistan Movement joined hands for a separate country with the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Both male and female students from all provinces fought equally for the same purpose and finally they achieved their goal. Students are not only social but also by nature very helpful and practical. They take part in providing services during and after war or disastrous situations to maintain peace and well being of the affected people.
Youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the partners of today. As scholars have stated “time is not evaluated by what has been harvested, but what has been planted”.
Ethical human qualities must be cultivated and sustained through systematic moral education in a conducive social environment so that a more humane world may emerge. The qualities required to create such a world must be inculcated right from the beginning. We cannot wait for the next generation to make this change; the present generation must attempt a renewal of basic human values. If there is any hope, it is in the future generations, but not unless we institute major change on a worldwide scale in our present educational system. We need a revolution in our commitment to and practice of universal humanitarian values.
There were some responsibilities and duties assigned to the students and young generation on the whole by Quaid-e-Azam in his address to the students of Islamia College Peshawar, on 12th April, 1948. He said: “The first thing you should do is to learn to appreciate the difference in the approach to the problems with which we are faced now in contrast with those which were facing us when we were struggling for our independence. Develop a sound sense of discipline, character, initiative and a solid academic back-ground. You must devote yourself wholeheartedly to your studies, for that is your first obligation to yourselves, your parents and to the State. You must learn to obey for only then you can learn to command. In your criticism of the Government you must learn to be constructive. You can make a big contribution towards bringing about harmony and unity where for personal and other selfish considerations some people may adopt courses which are likely to lead to disruption and disunity. Take advantage of your period of training … by equipping yourself to become leaders of the future generation”.
Students, all over the world are contributing in development of societies by joining different organizations like Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. They are the ones who are being properly trained in many ways to give their services when needed, nationally as well as internationally. For example, the slogan of an education related project run world wide by Girl Guide organization is “each one teach one”.
Students can contribute to form a tolerant society by their participation in different extracurricular activities held in their institutes such as competitions of essay or poetry writing, debates, speeches, attending seminars and using the pen as a weapon, writing in college magazines and columns in newspapers nationwide.
Pakistan has a rich culture. Its arts and crafts, heritage, music, dress, and above all its norms and values are its identity which make it a unique country. Young people are very skilled and interested in cultural activities. Youth can give a healthy atmosphere to peace and tolerance in different cultural ways like using music, poetry and art to depict peace. An example is the work done in this field by Abrar-ul-Haque and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
Media as an informer, educator and modifier has a very strong and long lasting influence on people’s lives. Media are the strongest means of communication and people consume especially electronic media on daily basis. Most of the work being done in media organizations is by young people. They play a key role in projecting and educating society. They can use and mould media in desired directions. Media is used for propagation and promotion of certain strategies which can be designed and planned in ways which make society peaceful. Our youth seems much interested in medium like mobile phones and internet which can be called the strongest media of this era. Youth should advocate and communicate peace on these platforms in their level best not only nationally but try to portray a peaceful nation internationally via international media. Youth has the ability to change the horrible image of their country and nation as a whole into a smooth and calm society. They can change people’s minds in favor of peace by spreading message of Islam and peace.
Youth in mass media, particularly in democratic societies like ours, can make a considerable contribution to world peace by giving greater coverage to human interest items that reflect the ultimate unity of humanity. Media focuses on showing the wrong rather than the right things going on in society which result in depression, tension and other negative psychological effects on the masses. When we rise in the morning and watch television or read the newspaper, we are confronted with the same sad news: violence, crime, wars and disasters. This does not mean that nothing good happens in the society. Why not change the ratio of negative and positive news?
Government is the engine of nation, leading and directing it. Youth plays a constructive role in electing a sincere government. As youth is an active part of society, apart from been given rights of voting in elections or referendums, it should also be included as representative in decision making and formation of policies and strategies. The state is responsible in giving its youth representation on governmental level. Semi governmental and non-governmental organizations are also a useful platform for young people to work for people.
Pakistan is highly rich in family values. People of Pakistan have closely knit relations. Family is the first institution where a person learns and practices norms and values which make him or her aggressive or kind. Young couples can contribute by bringing up a tolerant generation. Younger people as members of their families can educate other family members in positive way and change aggressive behavior and mentality at a domestic level. Peace starts from within.
We are citizens of a patriarchal and endocentric society where women, although representing more than half of its population, are being exploited, subordinated to men and victimized in many forms such as honor killing, trafficking, dowry abuse, mental torture, murder, discrimination for giving birth to a girl, socio-economic dependency, karo kari, vani, watta satta, halala etc. All these customs help producing an unhealthy environment. It looks as if we are still living in the ‘Age of Ignorance’. Young people especially males can reduce even abolish these insane practices if they take a firm stand and bold steps against them.
Provincialism is a dangerous trend found in Pakistani people which can be cited as one of the main causes of conflict in the country. Father of Nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in reply to the Address presented by the students of Islamia College Peshawar, on 12th April, 1948, said that, “You must learn to distinguish between your love for your province and for your love and duty to the State as a whole. Our duty to the State takes us a stage beyond provincialism. Our duty to the State often demands that we must be ready to common cause for common good. Our duty to the State comes first; our duty to our Province, to our district, to our town and to our village and ourselves comes next. Remember we are building up a State which is going to play its full part in the destinies of the whole Islamic World, therefore we need a wider outlook, an outlook which transcends beyond the boundaries of provinces, limited nationalism and racialism”.
Peace and tolerance is the urgent need of Pakistan. Love and compassion are the moral fabric of world peace. Young generation works as the backbone and the building-block of any nation. Each individual has a universal responsibility to shape institutions to serve human needs. Youth can entirely change their society with its power and sincerity by understanding and implementing its rights and responsibilities. The need is to trust them.
If you find peace, or help another person find peace, you’ve improved the world!