Fata youth arrive in capital

Posted in Pakistan | 24-Jun-08 | Author: Myra Imran| Source: The News

Ministry of Youth Affairs Secretary Ishfaq Mahmood

Looking determined to contribute towards the uplift of the country, representatives of youth from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) on Monday pointed out that unemployment and lack of education were the basic problems of their area.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the ‘See Pakistan Camp,’ organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs for the 70-member youth group from Fata, they said those problems were the key reason for frustration among youth that left them with no choice but to join extremist elements.

A ‘first of its kind’ initiative by the ministry to promote national integration and bridge cultural and linguistic gaps among youth, the camp would provide an environment in which youth could interact and work together with their counterparts in other provinces.

In the camp that continues through to June 29, the ‘all boys’ group would be taken to different historical and cultural places like Lok Virsa, Taxila Museum, Tarbela Dam, Pakistan Monument, Faisal Mosque and Shakarparian.

The group will also be taken to Lahore, Gujrat, Wazirabad and Sialkot to show them historical places and industries there in order to introduce them to the economic development, especially in the industrial sector.

In his welcome address, Ministry of Youth Affairs Secretary Ishfaq Mahmood said that the energetic and progressive youth of Fata could play a vital role in the development of their area and the country.

He urged the participants not to restrict their trip to sightseeing but come up with practical suggestions on how to develop Fata on the lines of modern cities. “Your suggestions for social and economic uplift of the area will be forwarded to the relevant departments,” he said adding that their recommendations could provide useful guidelines to the government about the aspirations of the community living in that area.

Upon finding an opportunity to highlight their basic issues in the media, a big number of students gathered around the media persons with each of them being well aware of the causes and solutions to their problems.

Majority of students told ‘The News’ that it was their first trip to Islamabad and when they compared it with their area, it was like visiting another country. They complained that their region had always been used for political purposes both nationally and internationally and its development was never a priority for the government.

Negating the fact that Fata was a land of warriors, they said that it was a completely wrong notion. “We are the victims of international politics otherwise the common man in our area wants to be as developed as people in other parts of the country,” they said.

Looking more confident than any other well-educated youngster of posh English medium school, they said that more such trips be arranged for Fata youth and that this interaction could contribute towards the social uplift of the area.

Responding to a question on forming a youth group that could pressurise the elders to develop the area, they said that it was not possible because of politically charged environment. “If we criticise Taliban, we will receive threats from them and if we do the same against the government, we will be considered Taliban,” they said.

Muhammad Arif from Landikotal said that Fata was portrayed wrongly in the media. “Most of the suicide bombers were coming from the settled part of the country and they are also educated,” he said adding that people in the area were fed up with continuous poor law and order situation and wanted peace and stability there.

Representing Bajaur Agency, Ziauddin said that if religious scholars all around the country started acting with more responsibility, half of the problems of their area could be solved. He regretted that every gunshot in their region was reported but no stories about the lack of facilities or deplorable condition the people living in Fata had ever been published.

Pointing towards another problem, Karamat Shinwari of Khyber Agency said that schools were constructed in most parts of the area but due to lack of facilities, low pays and dearth of incentives, teachers hardly took classes. “Instead of employing local population, majority of the teachers were taken from the settled areas on low salaries,” he added.

He demanded a separate quality university, as quota for Fata students in universities was very low. “With dearth of opportunities for higher education in medicine and engineering for Fata students around the country, most students opt for business management,” he said. He stressed the need for audit of political agents so that investment made in the area could be utilised for development.

Sharing their views about women, they said that if a separate camp for girls was organised, people might consider sending their daughters. They regretted that educating a girl beyond matriculation was still considered vulgarity in their area. They hoped that with time and more investment for the development of the area, the mindsets would also start changing.