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An Exclusive Interview with Rizwan Jaffar – The Founder Chairman of Youth Parliament

BM: Tell us about your educational journey and how you started Youth Parliament.
RJ: I was a debater since school, and as there were a lot of people in Karachi who were very good debaters so we had a group of our own. Similarly, I was also related to scouting since my school life, and just at the age of 17 I got the highest award of “President Gold Medal” for the “Best Scout of Pakistan”. After that I did my BBA (H) and MBA, but apart from education I was always involved in social activities.  Along with all the other debaters, we made Karachi’s first ever relevant organization by the name of “Karachi Youth Organization”. Under this organization, we participated in various activities and debate competitions. During this time, I got the opportunity to utilize my idea for starting a youth based show by the name of ‘Café Vision’ on Pakistan’s first private channel Indus Vision. Because I had an experience as a debater, so we gathered all the other debaters and organized dialogue sessions with them in fun and interactive way. The show turned out to be very well as it was one of a kind and was liked by all, so this is how the journey started. At that time, I got the idea that I should initiate something that could make a difference among youth, as people continuously questioned me that what kind of a difference am I creating through my program.  This is when I came up with the plan that there should be a parliament through which youth can become leader of the house and leader of the opposition for constructive discussion and ideas regarding the betterment of the state of affairs in the country; this is when I proposed the idea of a TV show by the name of “Youth Parliament”. But, unfortunately, the idea got rejected by the channel as they thought that I was already doing a hit show and adding a serious factor to another show won’t result in success.  However, all those people who told me to do something for this country, came forward and worked for this organization. It was on 14th August 2005 that I gathered all the people who wanted to work and announced the initiation of Youth Parliament in a 3 hour live transmission of completing the 100 episodes of my show.

BM: What was the aim of Youth Parliament?
RJ: The aim was to provide youngsters with the platform. It basically had four main objectives; to gather youngsters belonging to different backgrounds on a single platform, engaging youngsters in building the foundation of this nation, after Zia-ul-Haq’s ban on student councils and political councils it was necessary to provide a platform through which future politicians churn out in the form of students. The final and the most important factor was to create a bridge between students and governmental parties through which youth can interact their concerns and problems with the people holding higher positions in the government organizations. We have a record that we have done more than 1000 programs that no other organization have done till yet, we have a record of keeping 1 lac youth engaged with us within a period of nearly 12 years.

The current show that I have been doing “Sawal Pakistan Ka,” is the only show in Pakistan which still engages youth, and we have done this show throughout the country.

BM: What kind of hurdles did you face while initiating Youth Parliament and still have to face?
RJ: We had to face a lot of challenges. When we initiated the Youth Parliament in 2005, we basically kick-started it from Karachi and Islamabad but did induction from throughout the country, as we wanted it to go far and wide. But after 18th amendment in 2010, what actually happened was that many of the rulings of federal government got divided into provincial government. Youth Ministry, Education and Health allbecame the subject of power of Provincial governments. This is when we had to restrict ourselves to provincial level only; from 2011-2015 we focused majorly on Sindh. The reason behind it was to establish ourselves completely in a place where we root from, but now in 2017, we have successfully managed to spread throughout the country. Now we have chapters in 10 other countries too. Now even India and Bangladesh’s youth have requested us to launch a chapter of Youth Parliament in their countries, and our next step is to launch our divisions there.

BM: Do you plan on collaborating with government for educational projects?
RJ: Yes, for educational projects, we have worked with both federal and provincial government. Secondly, in order to work with the local government, we have launched a complete movement for 2017 by the name of Jadeed Pakistan Tehreek. This movement will be held out throughout the country with major focus on Sindh. Every district chairman will be given a team of ten youth members, who will work for the betterment and progression of their city. In this movement, we are not only targeting developed cities but we will also be going to small parts of the country. In this regard, we have met many Mayors and they are ready to properly own us and this movement. Even they are willing to give us their offices, so that the combined manpower and youth can work. We will collaborate with different city advisors, professors, lecturers, philosophers, and poets etc. to see what could be done for the betterment of these cities. Some of the subjects on which we will be making our proposals include sports, education, health, disaster management, recreational activities, sewerage, roads, parks, mass transit and many more. So that is the idea of modern Pakistan.

BM: What are your expectations with Jadeed Karachi?
RJ: Government has to deliver and we have to back them up with full power through Jadeed Karachi. The city generates more money than all the other cities of the country and it has a great potential for development. But from government to politicians and to people, Karachi has faced a lot of unwanted backlash and it is now time to pay back to the city which is the backbone of revenue. We will be engaging 600 youngsters with government within the six districts of Karachi and we have high hopes from this movement.

BM: Do you think government should induct youth parliament in its own parliament?
RJ: Yes. We believe in the mantra that if Pakistan is given to the Youth Parliament to run, it would be Quaid’s dream country within five years. But, I know that we have to do a lot of hard work for that and we have already proved our mettle. With Jadeed Pakistan Movement, we already believe that we would be able to bring about a great impact throughout the country.

BM: How can youth join Youth Parliament? And, what message would you give to the youth of Pakistan?
RJ: People throughout the year message us on our official number 0333-5559765 with their Name, Qualification, Institution, City, Cell number and Email ID. We call them for interviews and keep on inducting new blood after every two or so months. As for the message, I think youth is a single platform and they should remain united. They have to get out of selfish approach and foresee a brighter future. Therefore, it is necessary that youth from all backgrounds and ethnicities gather together on a single source and work together for nation building. It is essential to bring about a change for the progression of this country and only youth can does that. So, if youth want a Jadeed Pakistan, they have to take out time from all the spare activities and work for the betterment of their city.

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