United for Pakistan?
Conference at Portcullis House, Westminster, 13th June 2011
The function was chaired by Sheikh Daoud Rosser-Owen, Amir of the Association of British Muslims (AOBM) the focus of which was to support Pakistani students and youth activists in both in Pakistan and the United Kingdom to help the people of Pakistan.
Mr Abu Bakr Carberry said that it is essential that the Muslim community develop its ability to utilise economic and political power with the UK, ensuring that there is a wider distribution of power within the U.K. He also insisted that it is important that the Muslim community use that power to ensure that they champion the needs of all deprived groups. He argued that economic and political marginalisation is the driver of extremism in a variety of communities.
The Association of British Muslims is working with a diverse range of contacts and is in the process of making a strategic think tank for exercising political, economic influence and reach out to the corridors of powers both in the United Kingdom and overseas.
Mr Paul Salahuddin Armstrong, Co-Director of AOBM stated, “The world has become a global village, it would be wrong therefore, to think that we will not be affected by some trouble erupting in some other country. For example, the current economic crisis highlighted, what effects one effects us all”.
President of the National Union of Pakistani Students and Alumni (NUPSA) Mr Hussain Ali said they were working for the welfare of Pakistani students to raise positive image of Pakistan. “Our basic aim is to change the negative image of Pakistan through our positive activities. We go to different universities under the ‘Pehchan Programme’ as we have to teach our youth how they could play their role in bringing about a positive change in the system. Youth need to be empowered to benefit from their talents”.
Further Mr Ali said seminars and conferences are arranged from the organisation’s platform both in the United Kingdom and Pakistan. The PYLC (Pakistan Young Leaders’ Conference) has been held for the last two years to provide opportunities for students to interact and exchange views and to hear and question politicians directly. Issues are debated and their possible solutions are discussed.
The Vice President of NUPSA, Mr Ahmed Khan Yousufzai stated, “Pakistani youth have always proved that they can achieve anything they want with their determination. Youth were the vanguard of the Pakistan movement. Youth of today want supremacy of constitution and stable democracy.”
In responding to the panel: His Excellency Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner to the UK stated, “Pakistan is not responsible for extremism and radicalisation in Britain, whereas the fact remains that people of diverse schools of thought had sought political asylum in this country. They enjoyed complete freedom to preach their religious ideologies and thoughts. Mr Durrani further said, “Hizb-Ut-Tahrir in Pakistan is banned, but here in the UK its members are propagating their ideas unchecked”. Mr Durrani emphasised that he supports the freedom of expression, but “The British need to know these are the causes of spreading extremism and such ideology unchallenged, is working as breeding ground for extremism that affects Pakistan and other parts of the world” he said, “One should check his own home before raising fingers at others”.
Further The Deputy High Commissioner for Pakistan mentioned that the Middle East crisis should be resolved to frustrate Al-Qaeda further but no serious step is being taken in this direction. He asked British Muslims to press Her Majesty’s Government to resolve Middle East crisis. He said Pakistan is suffering from the wounds of its past. “We did not invite Russia to invade Afghanistan, nor did the Afghan refugees come to Pakistan at our will, “Instead of criticising we should pay attention to these social problems and find their solutions”.
Dr Khurshid Ahmed said, “Instead of holding one another responsible for extremism, there needs to be a stronger focus on empowering the youth and students to bring about educational revolution.” He maintained, “Efforts should be made through think tanks against polarisation and to address youth issues”. He implored the youth, instead of dreaming for basic changes, they should be the change they so desire.
NUPSA Under Pechan Pakistan Programme 24 universities have been visited and meetings held with their students. This year under ‘Bashaoor Pakistan programme’ schools in deprived areas of Pakistan will be visited and the students would be given information about civic responsibilities, political system and importance of vote.
The purpose of this conference was to show that British Muslims stand with the People of Pakistan – especially the youth and students in their desire for a positive, prosperous future and that we will share our knowledge, skills, education.