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> Rt. Honourable Mr. David Miliband, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK addresses Special Session of Youth Parliament
   
 
Special Session of YPP
July 26, 2007
PIPS Parliamentary Lodges, Islamabad

   

The Youth Parliament Pakistan held a special session on Thursday, July 26, 2007 at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services-PIPS, Parliamentary Lodges, Islamabad. The Youth Parliament, which has 60 members from all over the country aged between 18 and 29, provides a platform for the young to learn democratic practices and discuss issues of concern to young people in Pakistan. The special session presided over by Mr. Gohar Ayub Khan former Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan was addressed by Rt. Honorable David Miliband, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK who spoke on the importance of youth activism and the shared values between the UK and Pakistan.

 
 

“Its time to look ahead and build bridges between the UK and Pakistan through initiatives like the Youth Parliament Pakistan”, stated the UK Secretary of State while addressing the members of Youth Parliament or MYPs and added that this was the reason that brought him to Pakistan, it being the first country outside Europe he was visiting since he took over this position last month in June. “It is now about changing of minds and hearts and the notion of Youth Parliament represents an important symbol of the society we want to create,” he opined.

The Honourable Secretary of State himself representing the youth of the UK stated further that Pakistan and his country shared a very long history and had many shared interests and values on which they can move forward in which the role of young people is very important. Elaborating on the areas reflecting shared interests and values he said that the two cabinet ministers of Pakistani origin symbolise the changes that are now taking place in the UK. The challenges faced by the South Asian Region are very important to the future of regional security as well as to the UK, he stressed.

While appreciating the energy and enthusiasm of the members of the Youth Parliament he asked them to be the voice of creativity and face the challenges ahead and focus on reaching out and making positive changes. He called out to have shared values and shared interests for mutual benefits and dismissed the idea of a “Clash of Civilizations” as the driving force behind terrorism. He further emphasized the need of cooperation to fight global warming and drug related problems in the world as they were in the shared interest of the global community. He was of the view that as root of instability was inequality the Millennium Development Goals bound all the nations to extend education, food and health to people and contribute towards reducing poverty and inequality. Achieving these benchmarks is important for the world as well for the self interest of the U.K.

 
 

Talking about the three essentials which would make countries successful in the 21st century he said these included an open society founded on equal opportunities with maximum use of youth’s potential; the countries which shape their ideas freely about a democratic system & extend power to the people in the form of free and fair electoral system with education as a strong base; the strength and depth of a country’s global links while preserving its own values. He said with these changes foreign policy and diplomacy has assumed new proportions. Mr. Miliband’s message was very thought provoking and enlightening as the young members listened to the secret of success in the 21st Century.

The House witnessed a lively debate in the question and answer session. Replying to a question put forth by an MYP Mr. Miliband stated that his country would take action against individuals living in the UK if Pakistan provided evidence of their involvement in terrorist activities. In response to other questions he said that stakeholders and international community should make concerted efforts to bring stability in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Earlier in the day on a motion moved by the Youth Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights to discuss the law and order situation in the country the sitting saw a lively debate in the house on the subject with the opposition and government benches engaged in presenting their case vociferously. Members of youth parliament were very critical of the government’s policies related to the Lal Masjid incident and feared that the country may be headed towards civil war. They said that institutions in the country were very weak and these needed to be strengthened in order to improve the law and order situation in Pakistan. They urged the government to engage in a dialogue with the extremist groups in order to reach a peaceful settlement. They opined that unless there is true democracy established in Pakistan there can be no progress in improving the rule of law.

 
 

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar in his concluding word of thanks said that the presence of honourable Mr. David Miliband reflected the broadening and deepening relation ship between U.K and Pakistan. Lauding the UK government’s role in supporting Pakistan he hoped that the support and cooperation between the two countries will continue. He thanked Mr. Miliband on giving a very thought provoking and inspiring address.

The Youth Leader of The Opposition in her concluding statement opined that despite differences between the UK and Pakistan they can move forward by engaging in dialogue going beyond the government level by focusing on more informal discussion between the civil society groups. The youth Prime Minister in his concluding remarks opined that there was much for the youth to learn from the workings of the UK Parliament and he hoped that the Pakistani youth would have the opportunity to observe their practices so as to adopt best practices in Pakistan.

At the conclusion of the session the youth Prime Minister Mr. Basil Nabi Malik and the Leader of Opposition Ms. Mariam Raza Zaidi presented a souvenir plaque to the special guest speaker UK Secretary of State, the Rt. Honourable Mr. David Miliband after which he informally interacted with the MYPs over high tea as well as held a group photo shoot with them.

Along with the MYPs the special session was attended by Federal Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Khusro Bakhtiar, members of the visiting UK Secretary of State’s delegation including Mr. Mark Lyall Grant, Political Advisor- Office of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK & former High Commissioner of UK to Pakistan, Mr. Robert Brinkley- The High Commissioner of UK to Pakistan; former Deputy Speaker National Assembly Mr. Wazir Ahmed Jogezai, Ms. Tehmina Dasti Member National Assembly and Advisor to the Youth Parliament Green Party and representatives of key national as well as international media houses including BBC, Reuters, Associated Press, PTV, AAJ TV, Daily Telegraph, the Gaurdian and leading national dailies The Dawn, The Nation, The Daily Times, The News.

 
 

Earlier upon arrival at the Parliament Lodges the UK Secretary of State the Rt. Honourable David Miliband was received and welcomed by Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT and Secretary Youth Parliament Pakistan.

The first ever Youth Parliament Pakistan came into being in January 2007 with the objective of engaging the Pakistani youth in healthy discourse and inculcating in them the values and culture of democracy as central to effective governance in any society. Whereas on the one hand practice on the benches of Youth Parliament seeks to show members how to become more active citizens, it is also seen as a means to foster youth’s involvement in the democratic and political process. The first three sessions of Youth Parliament were held on January 24-28, 2007; March 01-05, 2007 and May 09-13, 2007 at Islamabad. The fourth and fifth sessions are planned to be held from September 05-09, 2007 and November 07 -11, 2007. PILDAT conceived the idea, facilitated the formation and now serves as the secretariat of Youth Parliament Pakistan.

The Youth Parliament project received cooperation of the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Pakistan while the project is supported by the Global Opportunities Fund of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Germany.