ISLAMABAD  (PR): The second day of “A World of Tomorrow”, an SOT Event by Beaconhouse, concluded on Sunday, March 12, 2017. The mega-event attracted a massive crowd on both days. The second day witnessed thousands of people who ardently attended various activities and sessions throughout the day. Different panel discussions and talks on topics ranging from gender issues to media, heritage, poetry, education reform, cyber-crime and cyber-security, sports and the impact of CPEC were held concurrently.

Dr Attaur Rehman, leading scientist and researcher, emphasised that science today presents myriad opportunities for research and exciting career opportunities in diverse fields. In another session, eminent poets and writer of Urdu concluded that literature is the catalyst for society’s good behaviour. In ‘Art Without Boundaries’ artists including Sheema Kirmani bemoaned the restriction on freedom of expression. It was suggested that art and its various dimensions should be included in the school curriculum. ‘Aid for Pakistan? No thanks!’ was a heated debate. The stance that Pakistan should not accept aid from foreign countries was voted for by most of the audience as it was unanimously agreed that resources both internal and external have not been invested and used strategically in recent years.

In a very high profile session called ‘CPEC and the Future of the Region’, panellists highlighted the short-term and the long-term implications of “One Belt One Road”, China’s global endeavour. Eminent journalist Rasheed Rehman passionately stated, “Now China is galloping ahead and the world needs to recognise the need; Pakistan must follow suitor be left behind.” The need to bridge the gap between Pakistani and Chinese culture, along with making Chinese language a part of curriculum in all educational institutions was also raised. Various student exchange programmes should be initiated between Pakistan and China.

In an emotionally charged discussion on going beyond gender binaries, transgender panelists appealed to schools, governments and the general public to accept their identity as transgender. Teachers were asked to sensitise children. This was followed by another gender-related session entitled ‘The Future of Masculinity’. ‘Working men: Harmonising Home and Work’ explored the changing role of working fathers. Panellists shared their endeavours to spend quality time with their children. While discussing their contribution in raising children, Ali Ahmed Khan made an honest admission: “Motherhood is an absolute miracle,” he said, “it is a bar that we cannot touch”.

In a thought provoking session, Harji Lal presented some issues faced by the minorities in Pakistan. Tahira Abdullah reiterated the fact that non-Muslim Pakistanis are not merely to be “tolerated”, but, loved and respected as Pakistanis. Other sessions explored the inclusion of the arts in science and mathematics teaching, fashion for the future, a hard-hitting discussion on education reform in Pakistan, ownership of cultural heritage and one entitled ‘No Land for Refugees’. The day concluded with stand-up comedy by Shafaat Ali, puppetry by veteran artist Farooq Qaiser and a concert by Ali Azmat.