Washington DC think tank Atlantic Council held a day of activities at LUMS on Saturday, January 12, 2013, as part of their South Asia Center’s Emerging Leader of Pakistan (ELP) fellowship programme.
The ELP programme takes into consideration the huge population of Pakistan’s youth, and seeks to empower the young leaders of this demographic. Fifteen fellows from diverse backgrounds in Pakistan were chosen for the ELP inaugural fellowship class. Finalists for the programme were also invited to take part in Saturday’s events.
The day began with a training session on conflict resolution, imparted by representatives from the Sustainable Peace and Development Association (SPADO), where participants learned techniques to analyse conflict and create peace through dialogue, discussion, and debate. Later in the afternoon, LUMS Vice Chancellor Adil Najam joined to moderate the public event, Channeling Progress through Pakistan’s Youth. Shikha Bhatnagar, Associate Director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, welcomed the audience.
Three of the 2012 ELP fellows were on the panel: Imran Khan, Founder of Youth and Gender Development Network; Shahid Rehmat, Founder and Director Interfaith in Action (IYA); and Saba Shaikh, Director of Advocacy and Networking at Dastak Charitable Trust. The fellows spent three weeks in the US, where they visited DC, New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco to gain knowledge from various leaders across the country. They shared their experiences, which ranged from learning about the US Department of Justice’s Office on Violence against Women to visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Shahid Rehmat noted that he was struck by how diverse the United States is and how the country deals with issues that arise from such diversity.
In attendance were many students from LUMS and other universities, LUMS faculty and staff, community members, and representatives from the US Consulate Lahore, including the Consul General Nina Fite. Ms. Fite closed the event with comments on the importance of the ELP fellows’ trip to the US as not only a great opportunity for them to learn about the US, but also for the US to learn about them and Pakistan.
A reception followed for those in attendance to further discuss the many topics brought up in the forum, and provide information for the next set of emerging leaders to apply for the programme.