“Building Bridges across the World”
[Islamabad, 5 – 9 December 2010] Khudi, recently co-organised Pakistan’s first International Youth Conference & Festival in the capital city of Islamabad in collaboration with Miradore Productions. The four day conference featured delegates from over 12 countries and high-profile speakers from across the world.
The inaugural address was given by the Federal Minister of Information and Broadcast Qamar Zaman Kaira who also participated in the opening panel discussion entitled “Pakistan: Past, Present & Future” with senior speakers such as Karamat Ali (PILER) and youth activists such as Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi (Khudi & PYA) and Sana Saleem (blogger).
The conference sessions featured discussion on diverse topics such as disaster management, tackling terrorism through technology, minorities’ rights and literacy promotion. International speakers at the conference included Scott Gould (Like Minds), Marc Koska (SafePoint Trust), Daniel Teweles (Personal Democracy Forum), Christie Manning Marchese (Participant Media), Joe Marchese (Social Vibe), Stephanie Rudat (Think Consortium), Susannah Vila (Alliance of Youth Movements), Susan Gordon (Facebook Causes), Steve Grove (Head of News & Politics, YouTube) and Jay Boren (Google.org). It was for the first time that speakers from Google, YouTube and Facebook Causes came to Pakistan, indeed owing to the International Youth Conference & Festival.
Local speakers/moderators included: Saeeda Diep, Nigar Nazar (Gogi Studios), Fasi Zaka, Dr Zeeshan Usmani, Amin Hashwani, Todd Shea, Peter Nicholson (former UN investigator) and Badar Khushnood (Google Pakistan). A workshop on Pakistan’s military strategy and outlook was also conducted by DG ISPR (Athar Abbas) at the conference.
Speaking about the success of IYCF 2010, Khudi founder Maajid Nawaz said: “Khudi is proud to be at the forefront of such initiatives for the youth of Pakistan. Through this conference Khudi wanted to showcase to the world the immense passion and potential of the Pakistani people. What better way to do this than to provide an opportunity for leading global personalities to experience Pakistan first hand. This unprecedented and historic event has done wonders in bridging global divides and correcting perceptions about and by Pakistanis”.
The conference was covered extensively by the media and in addition the IYCF reached the top ten trending topics globally on Twitter’s hashtags from the 2nd day of the conference. Following its resounding & unprecedented success the IYCF teams have pledged to hold the conference next year and will work to make it an annual feature in Pakistan.
Khudi itself is a groundbreaking social movement that aspires to actively counter the spread of extremist ideology and promote a democratic culture within Pakistan. Since its inception in June earlier this year, Khudi has organised regular workshops, as well as partaking in public services and civil society associations and engagements, conferences and debates. The Pehchaan Pakistan initiative, in collaboration with other youth groups across Pakistan, saw Khudi team members visiting students in universities across the nation addressing key issues such as identity, nationalism, democratic governance, women’s rights and regional stability, as Khudi believes these areas are integral to the prosperity and progress of Pakistan. Khudi also believes in assisting in development and relief work. Their recent fundraising efforts for Pakistan’s flood affectees saw assistance being provided through various channels and means.
Equipped with Maajid’s in-depth knowledge of the ideology, tactics and recruitment techniques of extremist organizations, Khudi is driven by a counter-extremism strategy based on the crucial principle that the prevention of extremism is far better than simply tackling its symptoms. Through its diverse initiatives and with support from the media and the public, Khudi seeks to empower the nation’s youth to reject extremism and to stand firm for the values of progress, pluralism and human rights – values on which the foundations of Pakistan were built.
Khudi’s own philosophy is based on encouraging the use of dialogue and discussion as the primary tools for dispute resolution and fostering a culture of healthy debate within society, an ethos which is further strengthened through this initiative.