“Gilgit-Baltistan: Hamara Pakistan” Conference Draws Huge Crowed at KIU

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The youth engagement initiative which was started by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies five years and two months ago (March 2018) under the banner of ‘Pakistaniat’ has now reached all administrative units of Pakistan. PICSS had conducted youth engagement conferences and seminars in all administrative units of Pakistan except Gilgit-Baltistan.

Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak (retd) Chairman PICSS Addressing the welcome note at at Musharraf Hall KIU Gilgit

On June 2, 2022, PICSS organized a one-day conference at Karakoram International University (KIU) Gilgit in which around five hundred students from different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan participated. Not only diverse participation from within the University was ensured but students from other educational institutions and youth organizations also participated. The level of enthusiasm in GB youth was unprecedented as from start till end the Musharraf hall of the KIU remained overcrowded. The university administration had to send a lot of participants out of the hall but even then many students kept standing to listen to the speeches and presentations.

Panel Discussion at PICSS-KIU Conference ‘Gilgit-Baltistan: Hamara Pakistan’ at Musharraf Hall KIU Gilgit June 2, 2022

As usual, PICSS made sure that the young audience remains intact and attentive throughout the event. As a practice, PICSS includes patriotic songs, documentaries as well as live performances besides serious intellectual discussion so that the audience does lose attention and attraction. At the KIU event, PICSS presented a patriotic song sung by a local student singer in the Shina language while some students also sang an Urdu patriotic song. Other famous patriotic songs were also played after a few speeches. During some songs, the guest speakers including Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan came on stage while waving flags to encourage the enthusiasm of the young participants. In fact, PICSS has made it part of all of its Pakistaniat related events to bring keynote speakers and chief guests on stage to wave national flags to inspire the youth. The item in PICSS events creates an environment of patriotism and attachment to the country.

Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Mr. Khalid Khursheed giving keynote address

As part of its regular practice, PICSS extended Team Pakistaniat to GB during this event. Around 35 students desired to be part of Team Pakistaniat which has been growing with the passage of time. In the KIU event, it was ensured that the students get an opportunity to raise questions. It was not one-way traffic. Students asked very tough questions especially related to GB’s constitutional rights. In contrast to Rawlakot, where the students asked questions about ‘independent Kashmir’, in Gilgit, the students were asking questions that why they are not being merged into Pakistan and given equal rights like other Pakistani citizens.

Managing Director PICSS Abdullah Khan addressing about Ideological Dimensions of Pakistan

The event had a very strong panel of speakers including Chief Minister GB Khalid Khurshid who spoke wonderfully well on the subject from an ideological perspective and inspired the youth. Dean Faculty of Life Sciences Dr. Khalil Ahmad, Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak (R), Major General Samrez Salik (R), Former caretaker Chief Minister GB Sher Jehan Mir, former Special Assistant to Prime Minister of Pakistan, and renowned actor Shahzad Nawaz, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences Dr. Tasawar Baig, renowned scholar from GB Mr. Aziz Ali Dad, Managing Director PICSS Abdullah Khan, Coordinator to CM GB Yasir Abbas and others spoke during the conference.

usharraf Hall at KIU was full with participants throughout the event

The conference was very well covered by all local newspapers published from Gilgit. The news and photographs of the conference were published on the front page. The largest newspapers of GB are Daily Ausaf and K-2. Daily Ausaf published 8 columns main headline which is a rare example. While other newspapers also put super lead or main lead. The event was trending well on social media through the hashtag #PakistaniatinGB. It was noticed that people from other parts of Pakistan started bandwagoning the hashtag. Analysis of the Twitter hashtag showed that its reach was more than 64 thousand. The event was also broadcast live on the PICSS official page as well as some pages of the students of KIU.

Shahzad Nawaz, Former Special Assistant to Ex Prime Minister of Pakistan explaining the youth The main ingredients of Pakistaniat

PICSS Instagram also presented feeds of the event. During and post-event interaction with the participants showed that the youth of GB highly appreciated the effort. PICSS had asked the university to provide 25 volunteers for organizing the event however, the number of volunteers who presented their services to PICSS for the event surpassed 40. It is observed that the youth of remote areas than the major cities respond with more enthusiasm to such initiatives. PICSS requires developing a mechanism to keep in touch with the participants of such conferences and engage them in activities that transform them into positive change agents in society.

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