This year South Asian Youth Conference moved from its origin city, Bangalore, India to the capital of Pakistan where 120 delegates from 8 countries belonging to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), aimed to empower the youth of the regionand utilize their potential to erase the gaps between the countries to progress together. NUST had the honor of hosting the second chronicle of this renowned conference from Nov 5 to 10.
Open to student and professionals under the age of 30 from the South Asian region, the conference provided a platform for those actively involved in the socio-political and entrepreneurial space. While the broader theme of the SAYC series is Peace, keeping the current context in mind, the theme of SAYC 2012 was MumkinHai!SAYC 2012 was primarily being led by Hila, a youth-oriented organization with a sole purpose to gather the youth under a platform for global issues.
The statement “From Conference to Coalition” inculcates the spirit of aligning the efforts of the youth and move towards the principle “Together we are Stronger!” The event kicked off with its opening ceremony at the Pak-China Friendship Center. Federal Information Minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira asked the younger generation to take the lead in improving regional relations. “I believe peace will come through the youth,” he added. “No country, no institutions can stop you from bridging the gap and making the region peaceful and prosperous.”
During the second and third days, the Conference revolved around education, with delegates engaging in thematic sessions, workshops, action projects and various interactive activities. Keynote speaker for day 3, Member National Assembly Dr.Nafisa Shah discussed the challenges faced by South Asian countries, focusing mainly on the economy and natural disasters.
She stated, “According to a UNESCO study, over half of the world’s illiterate people live in four countries, three of which are in South Asia.” The interactive session was received and applauded well by the foreign delegates. The importance of education was highlighted to develop a peaceful, tolerant society that respects diverse opinions and promotes multiculturalism.
The delegates also enjoyed a rock concert by underground bands in the evening.
Next day marked promotion of“cleanliness” in the country and to spread this message to the entire region, delegates gathered bright and early in G-9 Markaz, gathering trash in large plastic bags and raising eyebrows from passers-by. The sixth and last day of the conference brought together all the representatives to consolidate their “action projects”and create the SAYC Action Plan. The closing ceremony featured the experiences of the delegates throughout the conference while ending the conference on a mutual felicity. Finally, a cultural fest hallmarking cultures through performances, art craft and food was organized.
Naseem Khan Achakzai, Director SAYC remarked, “The delegates will take back values and solutions exchanged during the conference to their own countries, contributing to the success of South Asia as a region where the youth are future change agents,”.