KARACHI: A two-day “I am Karachi Peace Conference” is being organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research on December 20-21, 2014 at a local hotel. The conference, as part of the “I Am Karachi” campaign, aims to bring together civil society, youth, policy makers, state officials, experts and academics to discuss the political, economic and cultural dynamics of the challenges of peace and insecurity in Karachi, and explore potential strategies to address violence and extremism in the city.
This was stated by Chief Executive of PILER Karamat Ali, Ms. Zeenia Shaukat (Manager Programmes) and Ms. Naghma Iqtidar (Students Leader) at a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
The conference titled “Exploring Peace and Reconciliation Alternatives Towards and Karachi for All” aims to specifically focusing on youth’s role in exploring peace and reconciliation spaces in the city, as the challenges of violence and insecurity have a direct link to their future and well being. Apart from youth, civil society, academia, media and others have been invited in the conference.
Karamat Ali said being the largest city of the country, Karachi’s ethnically diverse population is a major part of the industrial, retail and services sector that makes a major contribution to Pakistan’s economy. He said: “With over 20 million population, it is counted as one of the world’s most populous cities and ranks 11th in terms of population density. The ever expanding city faces major developmental, environmental, and law and order challenges, which are not helped much by the declining state services for the city’s population and crumbling social cohesion among citizens.”
“It is therefore no surprise that the city remains a hotbed of violent activities including frequent protests against the state, gang wars, religious and sectarian conflicts, and sharp political divisions. The citizens of the city are indiscriminately targeted by criminal mafias and become victims of ethnic, political and sectarian violence. Every year the death toll is higher than the last year. In 2013, 3,218 people died in different acts of violence in the city. In 2012 the number was 2,500. In 2011, in the course of one month alone (July), there were 300 deaths, mostly target killings.”
He said the youth remains the most vulnerable segment as their future stands compromised because of the growing law and order challenges. The given conditions combined with religious jingoism have entrapped the youth of the city to follow and prorogate such ideologies that have grave implications on human and women rights. Studies and experts have identified a number of causes behind the growing spate of violence and lawlessness in the city. These include lack of attention and commitment from the policy makers and duty bearers to the issues of violence and extremism; deterioration of the capacity of state to respond to the challenges of rapid urbanization; lack of awareness about violent and extremist behavioral conditions and its root causes, and lack of capacities and coordination among organizations responsible to address the issues of violence and extremism.
The conference’s theme therefore focuses on exploring peace and reconciliation alternatives. A “Joint Action Plan” is a key outcome of the conference, identifying areas of proactive interventions to address violence through collaborative efforts of the state and citizens. The Joint Action Plan is to be based on discussion outcomes and recommendations of the conference participants.
Senior Economist Dr Kaiser Bengali and PILER’s Executive Director Karamat Ali would inaugurate the conference, where as speakers and panelists during the two days include: Senior Urban Planner and Architect Arif Hassan, Renowned Historian Dr Gul Hassan Kalmatti, Academician Dr Fateh Mohammad Burfat, Chief CPLC Ahmed Chinoy, Ghazi Salahuddin, Researcher Nida Kirmani, Ijaz Mangi, Writer Asif Farrukhi, Mohammad Hanif, and others. MNA Shahida Rehmani and Khalique Sheikh, Deputy Inspector General of Police are expected to represent point of view of the government.
The main topics being covered in different sessions of the conference are: demography, governance and urban planning; the various dynamics of conflict, including political, economic and psychological aspects; and panel discussions on the cultural landscape of Karachi and exploring spaces for the youth. There will also be a group discussion with the participating youth which would contribute to the development of an “Action Plan”. The Action Plan would be shared with key stakeholders including political parties, officials, policy makers and citizens groups as a follow up of the conference.
It is important to highlight that the conference is preceded by four Pre-Consultations with youth of Korangi, Gadap, Lyari and Saddar at different points in the last two months. The consultations were aimed at reaching out to the youth to understand how they see the issue. These outcomes of these interactions have also been incorporated in the conference.
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