Mirpur: Center for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR) in collaboration with the British Council organized a youth policy dialogue having title “Our Youth Our Future: Creating Spaces for Youth-Centric and Youth-led Policy-making” at a local Hotel in Mirpur on Tuesday. Around 200 young participants from a cross-section of civil society took parted in the seminar. President of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan was chief guest while Ershad Mahmud, Executive Director CPDR, Zeenia Faraz, Head of Programmes-Society, British Council, Islamabad, Dr. Waqas Ali, Zulfiqar Abbasi, a leading businessman and Vice Chancellor Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST) also spoke on the occasion.
In his presidential address President of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan urged the students and young people to achieve excellence in their respective fields, become active and vibrant civic actors and develop skills to use modern Information Communication Tools in a more strategic and effective way. While answering a question on the education system, he stated that he envisions the right person for a right job in universities besides minimal political interference and intended to initiate a new degree program compatible to the market needs and demand. AJK President advised the youth that they should pay attention to their character building, upholding moral and social values and upholding meritocracy for good governance in AJK. “Youth and civil society of AJK should support the government for better governance, and we need to introduce reforms both at the micro and macro level to curb the menace of corruption in the society” said president while answering a question. Two industrials zones, each in Bimber and Mirpur, and an expressway from Muzaffarabad to Mirpur have been included in the CPEC which will transform AJK’s socio-economic landscaped, AJK President said.
Zeenia Faraz, Head of Programmes-Society, British Council, Islamabad, said that the British Council in partnership with CPDR have been providing a platform to youth aimed to build their capacity and develop a wider understanding regarding the key socio-economic areas and seek ways through which their feedback could be incorporated in decision-making practice. She also hinted to explore the possibilities to develop linkages between Kashmiri Diaspora settled in the United Kingdom and community in Azad Kashmir. Ershad Mahmud, Executive Director Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR) said In Azad Jammu and Kashmir the majority of the population comprises of young people and deliberate efforts are required to address issues like, unemployment, brain drain, the capacity to better harness their untapped energies.
Zulfiqar Abbasi, a leading businessman, stated that the role of the private sector must be made instrumental to generate economic opportunities for youth instead of providing jobs in the public sector. He underlined the urgent need to conduct an economic survey of AJK so that realistic policies can be formulated on the basis of facts and figures. Vice Chancellor Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST) stated that we are in a transition stage and our universities are improving, but a lot to be done to build capacity and creating opportunities.