Lahore: “Government of Punjab has launched a pilot programme, entitled, Punjab Youth Peace Core, at the Union Council (UC) level to train the youth in peacebuilding skills. This is so that they can further organize social actions in their respective areas and help other members of the youth and the society to establish a culture of peace in Punjab. The pilot phase of the programme has been launched with 600 youth chosen from 30 select UCs of Lahore and Multan districts. This will be gradually expanded and implemented in the entire province.”  This was stated by the Provincial Minister for Special Education; Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology & Tourism, Mr. Asif Saeed Manais at the launching ceremony of the Punjab Youth Peace Core held in the Pearl Continental Hotel, Lahore on July 19, 2016.

At this occasion, Secretary Department of Youth Affairs, Mr. Humayun Mazhar Shaikh affirmed that Punjab Youth Peace Core is a milestone, achieved in efforts towards peace-building. Youth is the future of our country, it is of the essence that they are engaged to increase tolerance and acceptance of diversity in our communities.

Under the Programme, this cadre of 600 youth will be trained and they will henceforth work as peace champions in their respective local communities. This will involve conducting impactful social actions and influencing peers to promote peaceful cooperation.

Bargad Organization for Youth Development is the implementation partner of Punjab Youth Affairs Department in this project.

Ms. Tehmina Habib, Deputy Secretary, Youth Affairs Department gave a presentation of the project and Ms. Sabiha Shaheen, Executive Director Bargad, also briefed the audience on the implementation plan of Punjab Youth Peace Core. She informed that girls and youth from other religions will also be provided this opportunity of training and peace actions. Elected Chairperson of Multan UC 58, Mr Wasif Butt said that UC level initiatives are a guarantee to success.  Shuja Butt, Chairperson of Lahore UC 168 also came forwards to praise the initiative. A youth representative from Multan, Mr Danish Mustafa while appreciating the launching of the Punjab Peace Core said that it is a unique initiative because it has included youth from the grassroots level rather than from universities. A female youth representative from Lahore, Ms Anmol said that it was a hard task to include female youth in such projects. And expressed her hope that the initiative will inculcate confidence in participating girls.  Sidra Iqbal, moderator for the event also praised the Youth Affairs Department and the Bargad team for taking a wonderful idea, and making it happen.

Elected Chairpersons from selected UCs of Lahore and Multan also participated in the ceremony and lauded the efforts of the government. The ceremony was also attended by an audience of 200 youth who actively participated in the event; some as volunteers, some as participants who engaged with the dignitaries, while others made use of the photo booth to record their messages and comments for social media.