ISLAMABAD - Speakers at a conference on Friday highlighted the risks associated with the internet, especially the terrorist groups using cyber space for recruitment and radicalisation of the innocent youth. The one-day national workshop titled ‘Peace Building and Cyber Security Measures’ was organised by the Islamic Research Institute (IRI), International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), and the Federal Directorate of Education under the Maimaraan-e-Pakistan initiative.

IIUI Rector Prof Dr Masoom Yasinzai presided over the ceremony while IIUI President Dr Ahmad Yousif Al-Draiweesh, and Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Joint Educational Advisor Rafique Tahir were special guests. IRI DG Dr Zia ul Haq and Federal Directorate of Education Director General Dr Ali Ahmad Kharal were prominent among those who spoke on the occasion. A large number of students, teachers, principals of model schools and colleges and area education officers attended the workshop.

Addressing on the occasion, the speakers said the Pakistani society is becoming progressively digitised and reliant on the cyber realm for communication and sustainable social development. They said the internet age has opened up new vistas for the advancement of information, news and entertainment in Pakistan, however little work has been done to teach the youth about the risks and responsibilities of being online and the pros and cons of the internet.

The speakers said the community has become highly dependent on this new technology but at the same time anti-state elements as well as criminals have also invented the faster techniques to use internet for their nefarious designs and to commit crimes. They said people, especially the youth in Pakistan, is not trained to understand the complexity of the online content. Highlighting the risks of hacking and misuse of personal information, they cautioned the young students about terrorist groups increasingly using cyber space for recruitment and radicalization of the youth.

The speakers said the revolution and advancement of cyber-technology has both positive and negative effects on the daily lives. While people are able to get information at their fingertips through cyber technology, negative elements also misuse the facility for cyber-bullying, identity theft and loss of private data, etc.

They speakers called for promoting the values of unity and brotherhood to promote peace, stability and tolerance in the society and discourage the evils of violence, extremism and terrorism. They stressed the need to use the technology to identify and filter out extremist and radicalized material available on the social media.

The speakers also sensitized the participants about potential threats of hacking of personal information, promotion of liberal ideologies, drugs business, violence and sexual harassment on the internet. They highlighted the role schools can play in sharing good practices in order to promote safe surfing guidelines. They suggested that a nationwide campaign can be launched in schools to make children aware of the potential risks of the internet, adding that digital literacy should be made an essential part of the curriculum.

On the occasion, live demos with examples were presented to the teachers and students for creating awareness on the darker side of the internet.