Bargad – a non-government organisation (NGO) working on youth development, Government College University Lahore and Punjab government jointly held a seminar titled “Unite for Peace,” at Government College University Lahore on December 14, 2015. The purpose of the seminar was two-fold, one to remember the martyrs of the Peshawar Attack and two reviewing the implementation of the National Action Plan. It aimed to spread hope for a better future where the public needs to unite for peace to never let such heinous tragedies be repeated. The welcome note was given by VC GCU –ProfDr. Hassan Amir Shah; he welcomed the audience and spoke about the reason of the seminar – rememberingthe lives lost in the Peshawar Attack and ensuring support for the National Action Plan.

Mr. Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan, Punjab Minister for Education and Youth Affairs was the Chief Guest, who in his address paid tributes to the Shuhada of the APS Peshawar Attack and stressed the importance of National Action Plan’s implementation in order for December 16, 2014 to be never repeated. Rana Mashhood also spoke about the achievements of PML(N) and Punjab Government in the education sector. He said, “Our aim is to invest in our youth. Why should you go abroad to gain quality education, it’s our duty to provide proper education. Punjab Government has kept 27 % of the budget for the education only to brighten the future of our children.” He spoke about unified education system, and said that religious extremism should be banned from educational institutes. Rana Mashhood also added that the Punjab Government is making efforts to send kids abroad on scholarships.

A panel discussion on “A Review and Analysis of National Action Plan and its Outcomes”chaired by Ms. Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Punjab Minister for Finance with Prof Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin, Chairman HEC Punjab; I.A.Rehman, Senior Journalist; and Amir Riaz, Researcher, Writer and Publisher had an in-depth discussion on the subject.

The panel gave recommendations for the better implementation of the NAP. The audience also gave their input which were: curriculum revision,improve education system implementation of one system across the board.Policy formulation to be all inclusive activity to incorporate youth voices and have specialrepresentation from the tribal areas for it to be useful, as tribal areas have specific needs that need to be incorporated in the curricula. Investment is needed to bring youth forward and give them a platform like this seminar to voice their concerns. Dr.Nizamuddin stressed on the need to incorporate Quaid’s Speech of 11th August, the Constitution and The Holy Prophet (PBUH) last sermon in syllabi to counter and eventually eliminate extremism.

The event concluded with the performance of Laal Band, Taimur Rehman and Mahwish Taimur sung songs of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, the students were highly charged listening to the music of these revolutionary poets.

Signature Campaign:

Bargad launched a signature campaign against extremismin colleges and universities. The campaign, which started last Monday, ended today at Government College University. The campaign has managed to gather 5,000 signatures in support of NAP. The signatures were presented to the government officials at the seminar.Students enthusiastically participated in the campaign to sign the following resolution, “We solemnly vow to stand up against violent extremism in Pakistan. We vow to never let 16th December 2014 be repeated. We condemn this heinous tragedy and extend our full support to the government’s efforts being made under the National Action Plan to avoid such atrocities in the future.” Ten universities and colleges of Lahore participated in the campaign.

The Executive Director of Bargad Ms. Sabiha Shaheen said “The first anniversary of the APS Peshawar attack is approaching and it’s an opportunity for everyone to get together and look back at how and why we suffered, what we have lost, what we have gained; and look ahead to see where we want our nation to be and what needs to be done to eventually get there.”

VIGIL:

As the first anniversary of the Army Public School Peshawar terrorist attack draws near, Bargad – a non-government organisation (NGO) working on youth development – and the Punjab government organized a candle light vigil on Sunday, December 13, 2015 in Lahore to honour the lives lost in the APS Peshawar Attack. Around 100 people attended the event at the Liberty Market Roundabout.  Participants at the vigil included students of Lahore including from FCC University, Punjab University, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and FAST. A number of families were also present to share their feelings and a prayer was offered that nothing like this every happened again.

Candles were lit; a board was set up where people could write their messages for the APS kids. After the candle vigil Fateha was offered for those killed in the attack. A parent said, “This incident has scared the day lights out of us, we are always on our toes when children are in school.” A student from Punjab University said, “I could not believe it that these terrorists are scared of kids. They are cowards. They should be given exemplary punishments and be hung on roads for the world to see.”