The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to peace yet human history is bleeding, screaming, wailing and lamenting due to the absence of peace and this absence of peace is created by man. The absence of peace is because of inequalities and exclusion based on creed, caste and color have grown at an alarming rate over the past few decades; staging a difficult present and uncertain future to youth. And this is the harsh dilemma of framing youth as perpetrators of violence and being victims of violence. Youth comprises of over one billion population of the world and 600 million who live in violence and conflict-affected areas.
War against terrorism over the late three decades has made dense Pakistani graveyards leaving behind young widows, helpless toddlers and an increased number of people with disabilities while wasting its meager resources on immunizing to stabilized internal conflict and tension on its borders. A small group of political, religious, social scientists exploit religious and social emotions of masses and use coercive mechanisms to impose hegemony and thus have perpetuated stubborn hate, exclusion, discrimination, and injustice over centuries. The power seekers create religious and patriotic hype by creating fear of religious, political and geographic massacre. Religious fundamentalism actively seek to undermine secular thinking and pluralism to obscure the contribution of alternative worldviews in the formation of public policy and to shut down public spaces for pluralist debate. The growth of religious fundamentalism has affected youth and community’s way of thinking and created loopholes for religious extremism leading to discriminatory practices against religious minorities and social/vulnerable groups including women and transgender. The growing support for intolerance and extremism that fuels mob-violence, vigilante actions and discrimination against vulnerable minorities and dissenters, it is critical to enhance popular awareness to ensure voices of diverse and minority groups are heard.
Hope exists because youth exists. Although youth is vulnerable and inexperienced but is full of energy and passion to bring back the peace that is axed by past generations in the pursuit of grabbing an extra piece of land, to have countless bank balance or to exercise power over others. The prior generations have choked development by denying gender, religious and ethnic diversity. Less imprisoned by traditions and ideologies the youth can embrace diversity. More inclined to pluralism the youth can create counter-narrative to counter violence, discrimination, injustice by producing peaceful music, movies, literature, communication and reforms.
This Article is written by Tam Munir from Bahria University