Mushahid says Challenge for Pakistan is not to become like intolerant India

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Defense Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Tuesday said the biggest future challenge for us is that “Pakistan doesn’t become like India, where religious extremists and the fanatical fringe has become part of the electoral mainstream.”

He said Pakistan had fought the most successful inland war against terrorism thanks to the sacrifices of its soldiers and civilians. Moreover, Pakistan had been a model host, hosting the largest refugee population for the longest period in modern history.

“Pakistan also faced challenges like population planning, environment and climate change. Giving priority to education, he said, was key to Pakistan’s future,” he said while speaking at a day long conference jointly hosted by Senate Defense Committee and German Foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) to commemorate the 70th independence anniversary of the country.

He also focused on CPEC and Pakistan’s key role as a regional hub of connectivity.

Mushahid Hussain said, all through its 70 years, Pakistan always sided with the oppressed, citing examples of Kashmir, Palestine, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bosnia and the Rohingya.

The defense committee chairman said Pakistan was a pivotal player in 3 key geopolitical developments in the last 50 years: the 1971 opening to China by the US, the 1980s Afghan War which resulted in collapse of communism, the demolition of the Berlin Wall and breakup of Soviet Union, and the post 9/11 war against terrorism. He said the Quaid e Azam had presciently foreseen this when he told an American journalist in 1948 that ‘Pakistan would be the pivot of the world, placed at the frontier where the future politics of the world will revolve”.

As Chair of the Conference, eminent historian Dr Dushka Saiyid said despite difficulties and opposition, Pakistan came into being as a free land for the Muslims and non-Muslims living here. She said the Quaid’s vision of a forward-looking tolerant state must be translated into a living reality. She commended the resilience of the people of Pakistan and she said ‘we should be grateful for Pakistan’ given what is happening in Kashmir, and to Muslims elsewhere. She urged that education, both higher and primary be given the importance they deserve.

Speakers at the conference titled ‘70 years of Pakistan’ looked back at the progress made by the country over the past seven decades with a view to identify the challenges in future.

The conference was addressed by parliamentarians and eminent experts in the fields of education, economy, population, and culture.

Speaking in the context of rising incidents of involvement of educated youth in violent extremism and terrorism, Rabbani regretted that student unions in educational institutions, which provided the crucial platform for dialogue among students in democratic societies, were banned, but extremist element enjoyed freedom for their activities in universities. He said all political parties that have ruled the country after Zia failed to revive student unions.

The conference was also addressed by Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr Mukhtar Ahmed and German Ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler.