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Sensitizing university youth about CPEC

64 percent of Pakistan’s population is below the age of 30. Of this, hardly one percent makes it to universities. The youth, anywhere in the world, is either a catalyst for the socioeconomic, political and intellectual growth of a society or a recipe for self-degeneration. Many a youngster like this author returned to Pakistan with foreign qualification to serve the county in their respective capacity. Amongst this category, there are those who having faced institutional irresponsiveness and the lack of an academic environment chose to fly back to host nations which are far more advanced in epistemic and socioeconomic terms. However, there were those who despite multiple hurdles preferred to stay on in the country to work for its betterment. In the second category, the ingeniously educated and trained youth is also playing its part in various sectors of the economy. Nevertheless, there is still a huge number of our youth, which, due to various reasons, failed to reach university level. Moreover, a significant section of this sub-population remained non-skilled, semi-skilled and semi or unemployed.
On the one hand, in order to encourage parents and students of the importance of higher education and, on the other, to call upon the government to facilitate, above all economically, this particular type of youth, it is pertinent, on the part of the professional youth and the peer population, to engage our youth — especially university students — in a manner that inspires them to learn analytically, inculcates critical thinking in them and invokes their social and moral agency for social organisation and collective action.
With the foregoing serving as subjective framework, this author like many others, joined the Pakistani academia a decade ago. The core aim was and is to share experiences, skills and thoughts with the youth. Formal class lectures, academic seminars, conferences and symposiums are tools in this respect. Indeed, modern information technology have provided extra gadgets such as You Tube to engage the youth meaningfully. The latter, to my experiences, is, overall, quite familiar with the use of technology and, on the other hand, understands and responds to what is being communicated regardless of space, i.e. city/region, type (public or private) and (socioeconomic) status of students.
In other words, if the students of FC college university, COMSATS university, LUMS or Iqra university – all urban universities located in the federal or provincial capitals- were inquisitive, asked critical questions, engaged (guest or visiting) faculty in a debate, (co-)authored academic papers and attended (international) seminars or conferences, the students of University of Sargodha, a regional university to say the least, behaved similarly, though in a different cultural-spatial context, during a seminar on China-Pakistan relations: the case of CPEC addressed by this author.
My major aim was to familiarise the students to the broader contours of China-Pakistan relations and introduce them to the centrality of CPEC in the recent context. Though China and Pakistan recognised each other’s independence and sovereignty in the early 1950s, bilateral relations remained essentially neutral during much of the said decade. Indeed, it was an era of Hindi-Chinibhaibhai (Indian-Chinese brotherhood). However, this brotherhood was shattered by the shocking 1962 Indo-China war. In the wake of this war, China and Pakistan were able to demarcate their border permanently and, post-1965 India-Pakistan war, China-Pakistan relations started transitioning from tactical to strategic.
The 1970s onwards consolidated the process of bilateral strategic interaction. During this decade, Pakistan was indeed instrumental to China’s proto “opening up” policy.



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