Day two of the Global Youth Leadership Forum (GYLF) saw focus on youth participation in politics, with Pakistan National Assembly member Uzair Khan, who is one of the youngest members of the assembly, as well as former member of Colombian Congress, Juan Carlos Losada, speaking at the event. Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra also spoke at the event, continuing the theme of youth participation.
Both Khan and Losada belong to old political families in their countries, and have been associated with the Art of Living foundation for several years.
Khan, who represents the Khushab constituency in the Pakistan assembly, is also coordinator of the skill development programme launched in Pakistan under the prime minister’s youth programme. Comparing the work of a politician to theatre, Khan said that any person who wanted to enter politics could not escape criticism. He also mentioned that he had been “criticised” for his links with ‘The Art of Living’, and that he had to “compartmentalise in politics” so that the spiritual practice was “not part” of his “mainstream identity.”
Exhorting young persons to join politics, Khan also said that “real politics is about idealism, not pragmatism,” and the presence of youth provided vitality and change to the political process. Almost 100 people from Pakistan, including Khan, PPP vice-president Sherry Rehman, as well as Sufi leaders, artists, and performers were in Delhi to participate in the World Culture Festival.
Losada, also an Art of Living trainer in Bogota, said there was a need for youth to join politics, to “take responsibility for the things we complain about the most”. Speaking to The Indian Express after the event, Khan said there was need for more track II Parliament to Parliament contact between India and Pakistan to ensure peace and prosperity in the region.
Focusing on the “punk sufi performance” scheduled for Sunday evening by the Pakistani delegation, Khan said that there was a need to “celebrate oneness in diversity” and events such as the WCF gave the opportunity for such cultural exchange.
Mishra also said that people should not be afraid to “talk about” controversial issues.” Maintaining his support for the WCF, which has come under criticism from the National Green Tribunal, Mishra also said that it was “upto the DDA to ensure that the land does not come under encroachment” after the event.
BJP MP Maheish Girri, who was also scheduled to speak at the GYLF, did not attend.