The participants of ‘National Roundtable Dialogue on Peace Building at University Campuses’ on Thursday resolved to promote culture of dialogue and extra-curricular activities, revival of student unions and societies and revision of curriculum with inclusion of topics related to civic education, peace, tolerance, harmony, fundamental human rights and co-existence.
They also stressed the need for promotion of social sciences, arts and humanities, effective implementation over all clauses of National Action Plan, allocation of 20 per cent higher education budget for research focusing socio-economic problems of society and introducing courses on peace and conflict resolution. They said that special attention is required to promote book reading culture and literature among university youth, involvement of relevant stakeholders in decision making of higher education sector and undertaking collaborative efforts for promoting values of peace in society.
The academicians and experts from all the provinces and federal capital attended the roundtable dialogue organised by Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS). They shared their experiences and various suggestions aiming at peace building at the university campuses.
Sharing the objectives of the event, National coordinator Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences, Murtaza Noor said that recent incidents of violence at the university campuses required immediate attention by all the stakeholders to sit together, deliberate and undertake joint strategy for making the universities, hub of academic freedom, critical thinking, peace and harmony.
The speakers included, analyst Aoun Sahi, Vice President Council of Common Interests Dr. Nadeem Omar, Director Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies University of Peshawar, Peshawar Dr. Jamil Chitrali, President All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association Islamabad Chapter, Shehzad Ashraf Chaudhry, analyst from Balochistan, Liaquat Shahwani, Director Devcom Munir Ahmed, National coordinator Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Murtaza Noor, Chief Executive officer Shaheed Bhutto Foundation, Sikandar Ali Hullio , analyst Tahir Malik from National University of Modern Languages and youth activist Muhammad Rehan Tahir.
Aoun Sahi emphasized over effective role of universities in inculcating leadership and problem resolution skills among Pakistani youth. He suggested revival of student unions and student societies could be greatly helpful in decreasing violence at university campuses.
Dr. Nadeem Omar said that like 1970s, there is dire need to promote culture of dialogue and healthy extra-curricular activities at the universities.
Highlighting the importance of revision of curriculum, Dr. Jamil Chitrali form University of Peshawar stressed upon the structural changes at the university campuses to cope with violence and extremism.
Shehzad Ashraf Chaudhry from International Islamic University Islamabad was of the view that undue external interference has adversely affected universities’ autonomy and academic environment.
Liaquat Shahwani from Quetta said that the universities should play leading role in addressing various challenges being confronted by Pakistani society. He said that in Balochistan, a number of leading politicians had been very active during student life in various political and social activities.
Director Devcom Munir Ahmed was of the view that without respecting conflict and difference of opinion, tolerance and peace cannot be promoted at the university campuses and society as well. Sikandar Ali Hullio highlighted the importance of developing indigenous narrative to counter violence in the society.
Tahir Malik from National University of Modern Languages stated that collaborative efforts could be greatly helpful in addressing the internal challenges and making Pakistani society, peaceful and tolerant.
The speakers expressed satisfaction that all the stakeholders and government institutions are on the same page for undertaking collective efforts to promote values of tolerance and co-existence at the university campuses.