Growing militancy and extremism is increasing the sense of insecurity among the civilians of Pakistan, which is very obvious from the recent incidents in Pakistan. The killing of civilians - two motorcyclists and one cyclist - by the personnel of law enforcing agencies has led to an atmosphere of fear and insecurity in the city. The kidnapping of Vice-Chancellor of Islamia College Peshawar, a major Educational Institute and the blowing up of three Schools in the suburbs of Peshawar are viewed as clear attacks on “Youth Education” by militants. The increasing militancy has fuelled the need among civil society to speed up their efforts for promoting peace at local, national, and political level. A number of activities were thus organized by the civil society organizations of Pakistan around International Day of Peace to highlight the importance of Peace in the country and to build momentum for peace among young people.

Aware Girls celebrated International Peace Day on 21st September by organizing a Peace Education Workshop with 50 young people. The young people were educated about peace, tolerance, non-violence, conflict resolution, the history of conflicts in Pakistan, and about the role of young people in promoting peace. The participants were very motivated to play their role as “Agents of Peace” in the country; they developed a plan of action for a movement to combat extremism and terrorism in the country.

Another organization, Chanan Development Association, tried to use a National Youth Peace Festival  to build a country-wide momentum among young people for promoting peace and inter-cultural harmony. 500 young people from all around the Pakistan gathered to show their commitment to promoting peace and combating extremism. In the opening ceremony of the 1st NYPF 2010, Executive Director of Chanan Development Association (CDA), Muhammad Shahzad Khan said that the theme of the festival, “Together we are the SOLUTION!” is being selected to promote national integrity amongst the young people living in different provinces. He added that the young people possess the great ability to provide innovative solutions to the old problems, and for their potential needs to be channelized in a positive and constructive manner.

On 23rd September, Amn Tehrik, an organization which has been advocating for peace and Pakhtuns rights, arranged a seminar on kidnapping and target killing at press club on Thursday wherein the speakers jointly condemned the rampant rate of kidnappings and target killings. Members of civil society, activists of political parties and journalists participated in the Conference and gave vent to their serious resentment over the negligence of government and the role of military in politics and held military responsible for all the chaos in the region. Speaking on this occasion various participants lamented the state policy. The civil society and activists of political parties condemned the kidnappings especially the recent kidnapping of Vice-Chancellor of Islamia College Peshawar, and the silence in the civil and political society over these kidnappings, they also condemned an incident in which the personnel of law enforcing agencies killed two innocent civilian motorcyclists and cyclists in Peshawar.

The speakers stressed the constructive role of civil society and political activists in the nourishment of peace and democracy. The activists jointly passed a resolution wherein they demanded that investigations into targeted killings, from the first killing (of Liaqat Alli Khan, the first ever prime minister of Pakistan), to the latest incidents. The guilty parties should be known to the public of Pakistan.

Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, September 2010
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