BENGALURU: The recently-concluded World Culture Festival, organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AoL), attracted dignitaries from around the world. Among them was a young politician from Pakistan, Uzair Khan, who spoke on the Power of Youth’s Voice in Politics.
The 31-year-old is among the youngest to get elected as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Pakistan, from the Pakistan Muslim League (N). He is on the Advisory Board of the Planning Commission of Pakistan and is also the Chief Coordinator of the Prime Minister’s Youth Skills Development Programme.
Khan admits to have been greatly influenced by Art of Living and has trained as a teacher at the establishment. He speaks to City Express about the relationship between India and Pakistan, terrorism and cricket.
Excerpts from the interview:
Ever since Independence, the relationship between India and Pakistan has been less than cordial. What do you think can be done to address the grim situation?
I feel it is time to break the cycle of violence and enmity that has been going on for the past six decades. Now, things are changing for the better. Youth of the two nations are both idealistic and optimistic and don’t harbour prejudice against each other.
Yes, we have had problems. But, it is important for us to work together. If the two countries continue to remain in conflict, we will be robbing the future of our youth. I foresee that the relations will improve significantly in the next few years, as both Prime Ministers are keen on working it out.
Terrorism has been a major problem for both countries. How can it be tackled?
It is a global phenomenon. Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism. The government has initiated some severe measures such as a war on terror called ‘Zarb-e-Azab’, to rid Pakistan of terrorism. All countries should work together. It is the only way to sort out the crisis.
India has seen a bit of unrest lately, following the intolerance debate and student protests at JNU. What are your views on that?
In any democracy, freedom of speech has to be protected. Even though people might have different opinions, they must be allowed to speak their mind. However, freedom of expression cannot be an excuse for hate speech. Curbs on hate speech are also essential.
From the developed world to Third World nations, there has been a resurgence of right-wing organisations that seem to have a problem with democracy. Do you think they are a real threat?
We should realise that the extreme right-wing groups are fringe elements and they do not represent the views of the mainstream society. Such groups are propelled into fame as they get more media attention, allowing people to think that they are more prevalent than they actually are.
What is your view on Pakistan playing cricket in India after a gap of a few years? What do you make of the Afridi controversy?
I am glad that India and Pakistan are playing together again. At the festival, Sri Sri had remarked that sports is among the things that bring people together. And there’s nothing more exciting than the two countries battling it out in a cricket match. With respect to the Afridi controversy, I think the whole issue is unfortunate and wish that it is over soon.