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Experts urge for promoting critical thinking among youth to curb extremism

Karachi — Experts at a two-day consultation urged the need for promoting scientific and critical thinking among youth to curb ever-increasing intolerance and religious extremism among them.

They also said that the lack of critical thinking among Pakistani youth encouraged them to engage in hate speech on social media platforms and the state should take its responsibility to discourage such trends among them.

Lawmakers, members of political parties, academics, journalists, rights activists, and civil society representatives, among others, participated in the consultation on “Promoting Narratives of Diversity, Inclusion, and Peace among Youth.” Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based research and advocacy think tank, organized the event here at a local hotel.

The purpose of the consultation, which had four sessions on different themes, was to know how youth can build cultural awareness and develop understanding of the dynamics of multiculturalism.

The discussion was also held on Sindh Youth Policy, its present status and ways for engaging youth at the level of political parties, in the legislation-making process, and in the non-government sector. The discussants also deliberated about creating economic opportunities for youth through technical and real-life learning, and what are the challenges in enforcing responsible social media use for them?

Educationist and author Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed taking part in the discussion called for bringing alternative narratives based on scientific and critical thinking to end prevailing religious extremism and intolerance among youth. “This has become utmost important that those liberal segments of the society, who believe in scientific and critical thoughts, should move forward to create alternative narratives,” he said. He said that only holding dialogue with extremist elements of the society would make no difference and there was a need to make an effort at the intellectual level.

Journalist and columnist Ghazi Salahuddin pointed out that the lack of reading books, especially fiction, among youth was the major problem. “We cannot expect from youth that they will have any idea of diversity, and inclusion if they don’t read books,” he said. He further said that fiction reading would bring creativity and knowledge among them, leading towards tolerance and empathy.

Professor Dr Qudsia Tariq of the Department of Psychology in University of Karachi emphasized training the child at grassroots level and added that they should work on parenting skills. “I am seeing psychological issues developing among youth due to lack of attention from parents, among other factors.” She urged for introducing training programmes to aware and educate parents about the needs of their children.

Former member of Sindh Assembly Ms. Bilqees Mukhtar underlined that political parties should engage the youth and empower them by giving them representation in national and provincial assemblies. “They should be made part of the legislation-making process.” She also said that youth should be provided with technical training that would definitely help them in finding jobs.

Former MNA of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQMP) Rehan Hashmi remarked that successive provincial governments had been announcing youth policies for Sindh, but these remained limited to mere announcements. “The implementation of such policies was never ensured.” He demanded to abolish the rural-urban quota system for jobs in Sindh saying this was discriminatory in nature for youth.

Chairman of the Voice of Youth Muhammad Faizan Khan also said that the present Sindh Youth Policy only existed on paper and no effort has ever been made to implement it in letter and spirit.