Ban on student unions led youths away from politics’

Lahore:26 June:Attracting the younger lot by providing some food for thought in the form of panel discussions and musical performances, Hope Festival concluded with an aim to work towards progress and tolerance on Sunday. Held at the National Museum, the festival brought together the likes of Arieb Azhar, Sheema Kermani, Suhaee Abro and numerous students hailing from the Pashtun, Baloch and Gilgit-Baltistan communities who put up cultural performances. In a discussion on youth participation in politics, social activist and an independent candidate in the upcoming elections, Jibran Nasir said that because of a political disconnect in the society, the youth has not matured in terms of politics. “I do not want to offend any elders sitting here, but the reason a hard line approach is adopted by young political faces is due to the mistreatment shown to them,” he added. Alya Bakshal of the Awami Workers Party said that the presence of women, well-versed about the plight of women and other oppressed communities, in parliament was the need of the hour. “There are still thousands of women who do not have national identity cards, which means that they would not be able to exercise their right to vote,” she lamented. Political activist Fatima Zaidi mentioned that the ban on student unions resulted in the decline of politically engaged student bodies. “I feel that the youth never turned its face away from politics but following the ban on student unions, the platform for a common ground was snatched from them and the basis for politics shifted along religious and ethnic lines,” she added. Journalist Ali Arqam also felt that without giving room to a political culture to take root, it was difficult to address issues such as energy crisis or security threats. “While there is no doubt that youngsters have been deliberately kept away from politics, I am glad to mention that there are many individuals who successfully organise themselves for causes that they believe in,” said political activist Laila Raza. Laila pointed out that the fate meted out to Mashal Khan is also important in this regard because he rose as a voice for other students, which ultimately resulted in his unforeseen demise. “I think that students need to take up issues that concern them instead of lunging onto mainstream issues because when student political activists do that, they jump from one issue to another without being able to work consistently on the problem at hand,” she added. An interactive discussion on feminism and its misconceptions was also organised by Girls at Dhabas members Sadia Khatri and Fiza Khatri. They encouraged the audience members to share questions on the subject so that they may be clarified and indulge in more informed conversations as a result of it. An artist from National College of Arts in Lahore, Khushi Islam, presented her artwork addressing the #MeToo movement. She created portraits using the names of all the victims of sexual harassment and other abuses. In conclusion, one of the organisers of the event, Muhammad Afzaal, said that the aim of the festival was to bring together progressive thinkers and performers. He mentioned that folk dances were included to acquaint activists and change their outlook towards other communities. He hoped that this would become an annual occurrence for the youth to participate in and own.The news.

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