President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the U.N. General Assembly

Posted September 19th, 2017 at 6:39 pm (UTC+0)
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United States President Donald Trump Addresses the United Nations General Assembly

President Donald Trump speaks to the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

TRUMP: It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.
As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid.TRUMP: The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high, a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.

And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been.

For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today, but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value.

Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists, but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders. And new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril.

It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair. We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security and promote their prosperity.TRUMP: It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars, they’re pillars of peace: sovereignty, security and prosperity.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent and free. As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations. The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.

This is the beautiful vision of this institution. And this is the foundation for cooperation and success. Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect. Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example.

We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution, the oldest constitution still in use in the world today. This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity and freedom for the Americans, and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity and the rule of law.

The greatest (sic) in the United States Constitution is its first three, beautiful words. They are “We the people.” Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country and of our great history.

In America the people govern, the people rule and the people are sovereign.

I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people where it belongs.

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens, to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights and to defend their values.TRUMP: As president of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first.

(APPLAUSE)

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return.

As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interest above all else. But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe, to the deserts of the Middle East, to the jungles of Asia.

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.

Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security and prosperity for all.

For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope. We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideology. We have a policy of principled realism rooted in shared goals, interests and values.

That realism forces us to confront the question facing every leader and nation in this room. It is a question we cannot escape or avoid. We will (sic) slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats and even wars that we face, or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent.TRUMP: We must protect our nations, their interests and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.

And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil and terror.

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens, nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing and oppression of countless more.

We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later. We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.

No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

The United States is ready, willing and able. But hopefully, this will not be necessary.

That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future.

The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-to-nothing votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea. And I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved.TRUMP: But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.

We face this decision not only in North Korea. It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.

The longest suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people. Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.

This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles. And we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.

(APPLAUSE)

The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters and imprison political reformists.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the people will face a choice: Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?TRUMP: The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its finance.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamic extremism that inspires them.

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism, because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed, to tear up the entire world. We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nations.

It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like Al Qaida, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.

Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. We seek the deescalation of the Syrian conflict and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people.

The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shocked the conscience of every decent person. No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the air base that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of the United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS. And we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict.TRUMP: The United States is a compassionate nation, and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries to be part of the rebuilding process.

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region. Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G-20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible and humanitarian approach.

For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges. Here in the Western Hemisphere, we have learned that over the long term uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.

For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reforms, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.

For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes. The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa.

The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen. We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world, through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President’s Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank…

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. We also thank the secretary general for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security and prosperity.

Too often, the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process. In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble ends have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them.

For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.TRUMP: The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes.

The United States bears an unfair cost burden. But, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to Hell. But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.

In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden militarily or financially. Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

That is why, in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt, destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.

My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once-thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country. This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.

The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. This situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch. As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal. That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country and restore their democracy.

I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.TRUMP: We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today. Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela.

(APPLAUSE)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.

(APPLAUSE)

From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests and their well-being, including their prosperity.

In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of goodwill. But this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal. For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success.

But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules. And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind. But they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government, the duty of (sic) our citizens. This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today. If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the independent strength of its members. If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign and independent nations; nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to befriend not enemies to conquer, and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens and for all that is best in the human spirit.TRUMP: In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they loved. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us. We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far off bureaucracies. We can’t do it.

We must solve our problems to build our prosperity, to secure our future, or we will build vulnerable to decay, domination and defeat.

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one: Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures? Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people. That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security and prosperity for all. Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people and their patriotism.

History is asking us whether we are up to the task. Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve and a rebirth of devotion. We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself. Our hope is a word and world (sic) of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all, a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.TRUMP: This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.

So let this be our mission and let this be our message to the world: We will fight together, sacrifice together and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity and for the almighty god who made us all.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the nations of the world. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

END

 

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GoZest Returns

Posted September 13th, 2017 at 12:13 am (UTC+0)
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Written by Niala Mohammad

 Swat, the Switzerland of Asia

Popularly known as the Switzerland of Asia, Swat Valley was the heart of tourism in Pakistan, tucked amid the Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges. However, in recent years Swat became synonymous with terrorism and extremism. It is the very same place where Pakistani Nobel Laureate, Malala Yusafzai was shot by the Taliban. Deathly battles between the Taliban and the Pakistani military left Swat Valley in shambles, ultimately damaging its once flourishing tourism industry.  Although efforts have been made to rebuild the infrastructure of Swat Valley, the image of the Taliban remained locked in the minds of people. Youth in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa shattered this terrorist laden rhetoric by inviting the rest of Pakistan to #RediscoverKP, Swat.

 

Participants of #GoZest2017 visited Kalam, MalamJabba, Mahudand, Behrain, and Mingora

After the success of GoZest, #GoZestReturns to rediscover Swat Valley; Kalam, MalamJabba, Mahudand, Behrain, and Mingora. GoZest2017 received over 500 applicants from all over Pakistan.  However, due to limited space only 130 applicants were chosen to take part in the 5 Day, 4 night expedition. Applicants aged 18 to 36 were chosen through a rigorous selection process to ensure that proper representation of all ethnic and religious groups within Pakistan were demonstrated.

Gozest participants hailed from over 55 districts throughout Pakistan 

Day 1: GoZestReturns

Participants arrived at the Grand Hotel Season, located in Fizaghat, Swat.  Fizaghat is a popular hill station in Swat, Mingorara that took an economic dive when Taliban insurgents overtook the valley. Gozest management ensured that they gave preference to local businesses to help re-boost the tourism economy in Swat.

Swat is tucked amid the Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges

GoZest2017 participants were greeted at the entrance of the hotel with a creative visual aesthetic, by Pakistan’s 1st 3D artist Mr Ahmad Waqas.

Pakistan’s 1st 3D artist Mr Ahmad Waqas created a visual that prompted several photo opps

Registration and Opening ceremony were commenced with a broad range of social and political personalities to include; District Nazim Swat Muhammad Ali Shah, District Member Irshad Ahmad, District Officer 1122 (Rescue) Mr Arshad Iqbal, and KP Coordinator BISP (Benezir Income Support Program) Miss Naseem Akhtar. The initiative was cheered by Ziauddin Yusafzai, Reham Khan, Ali Muhammad Khan, Nazia Parveen, Maya Khan, and other  known personalities.

The reality in Pakistan is not as bad as the perception of it.”-Abid Atozai (Chairman of PYA & Mardan District Nazim)

Participants enjoyed high-tea along the Swat River in Fizaghat once GoZest registration was completed and welcome packets were distributed.

Participants enjoyed high-tea along the Swat River in Fizaghat

Day2: GO GO Malamjabba

Participants were divided into 8 groups, each group had 15 members and an escort from the management team supporting GoZest. The management team purposely diversified the groups to include individuals from all areas of Pakistan. The teams departed from Mingora to MalamJabba, on a two hour scenic drive.

MalamJabba is home to the only ski resort in Pakistan

Upon reaching MalamJabba, participants were transported to the peak of MalamJabba via the newly installed chairlifts offering a 9,200 feet-high, breathtaking, panoramic views of the Hindu Kush mountain ranges.

 The Austrian government installed chairlifts in MalamJabba that offer a 9,200 feet-high, breathtaking, panoramic view of the Hindu Kush mountain ranges

At the peak, trainers put participants through a motivational session activity which included ice breakers, including an acoustical activity of shouting into the mountains to release emotion and energy.

 “You are in the native town of Malala Yusafzai, a nobel peace prize winner. Be witness to this peaceful environment, become ambassadors of peace, and encourage others to view the beauty of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.” -Kashif ur Rehman (TEAM)

 

After the ice-breakers, participants embarked on a day filled with vigorous physical activities such as a male vs female uphill 200 meter race on MalamJabba’s famous slopes normally used for skiing in the winter months. MalamJabba is home to the only ski resort in Pakistan.

 

Girls WON the male vs female uphill 200 meter race

Later the participants were booked into their hotels where they were given a taste of local “melmestia” (hospitality) with dinner accompanied by traditional rabab music.

 

GoZest’s melmestia included dinner & traditional rabab music

Day 3: GO GO BEHRAIN & KALAM

After breakfast, participants headed towards Behrain on a 3 hour scenic drive along Swat River. Partakers enjoyed a traditional “karahi” picnic in Behrain. After the river-side picnic and numerous selfie sessions, the groups set off towards Kalam on another 3.5 hour scenic drive spiraling alongside the snow topped mountains.

 “The best part of the event was traditional food and flavors of KPK”-

Fayyaz Ali

“Participants enjoyed local specialties such as karahi, barbeque, chapli kebab, and fresh trout indigenous to Swat. GoZest also ensured that the dietary needs of their Hindu, Sikh, and Christian participants were met respectably.”-GoZest2017 Management 

Upon reaching Kalam, participants were treated to a Bonfire & Barbeque night.

“We met individuals from all over Pakistan and established life-long friendships.”- Umair Khan 

The evening was filled with performances around the bonfire by participants who were given the opportunity to display their artistic talent.

“GoZest gave us a platform to display our talent.”-Sheraz Mehmood

Day4: GO GO MUHADAND LAKE & JHEEL SAIFULLAH

GoZest set out early in the morning to Muhadand Lake and then onward to Lake Saifullah. The lakes are located in the upper Usho Valley, approximately about 40 km from Kalam. The area is only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles due to the rugged terrain.  Twenty-three vehicles set about on a 2.5 hour long safari jeep excursion.

Muhadand Lake and Lake Saifullah are located in Pakistan’s upper Usho Valley, 40km from Kalam

Participants were taken aback by the breathtaking scenery of Usho Valley. Lake Saifullah, or Jheel Saifullah is nestled between mountains and surrounded by plus green forests.

“This place is heaven on earth”- Ali Ibtesham 

The group was dispersed into ten teams and handed arts and craft supplies, which included paint, paint- brushes, and individual metal boards. Participants were encouraged to write messages or words of wisdom on the boards for onlookers to read. The boards were then nailed along the trees of the forest surrounding Jheel Saifullah.

Participants were encouraged to write messages or words of wisdom

After lunch participants headed back towards Mohadand Lake, were they had the opportunity to snap photos, go horse back riding, and participate in a cleanliness activity.

Local horse breeders offer horse rides along Mohadand Lake

GoZest provided participants with cleaning supplies and initiated a community service project at Muhadand Lake which was greatly appreciated by the local municipality.

Participants were heartened to GOGREEN at Mohadand Lake

Participants headed back to the State Continental Hotel in Kalam where participants took part in a cultural exhibition. Participants displayed their Sindhi, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Balochi, Balti (Gilgit), and Pashtun ethnic attire and performed their traditional folk dances.

GoZest Cultural Cat Walk

Day 5: GO GO HOME

The closing ceremony of #GoZest2017, awarded certificates of appreciation and shields among the management, partners and participants.

GoZest2017 was a joint effort sponsored by several local and national organizations whose purpose is to educate people and change negative perceptions associated with Khyber Pukhtunkhwa 

Participants were sent off to Mingora’s Daewoo Bus Terminal…and said goodbye till #GOZESTRETURNSAGAIN

The event helped wash away the stigma of Swat Valley being affiliated with terrorism and the Taliban

The event allowed an opportunity for youth within Pakistan to remove negative stereotypes associated with Pashtuns and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province. It also helped wash away the stigma of Swat Valley being affiliated with terrorism and the Taliban. The tourism initiative by GoZest not only helped the local economy but it allowed participants that are not affiliated with the province to gain a level of comfort and familiarity with the region.

GoZest2017 also served as a leading networking event in which participants engaged with individuals from various fields throughout Pakistan and established life-long connections.

Participants that are not affiliated with Khyber Pukhtunkhwa gained a level of comfort and familiarity with the province and its people 

More information about GoZest can be found on their official Facebook page, or simply look up trending hashtags on social media – #GoZest #GoZestReturns or #GoZest17 to catch a glimpse of the epic adventure.

The initiative was cheered by Ziauddin Yusafzai, Reham Khan, Ali Muhammad Khan, Nazia Parveen, Maya Khan, and other internationally known personalities. 

 

Photo Credits: Concept Corporation, Fayyaz Shots by Fayyaz Ali, Neeky’s Photography by Naima, AJ Studios, Saad Khan Photography, and GoZest2017 participants. 

KP Declares Dengue Health Emergency

Posted September 7th, 2017 at 8:20 pm (UTC+0)
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Written by Niala Mohammad

Dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti. (Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Seventeen- year old Shahabuddin died of Dengue Virus in Sherpao Hospital in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa today, he is the 18th person in the province to have died from the mosquito borne virus since July this year.

The Health Ministry of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa has declared a public health emergency and has been aggressively tackling the issue by setting up screening wards within major hospitals and Basic Health Units (BHU’s) to catch and curb Dengue Virus, free of cost to patients.

VOA Deewa’s Dr. Saima Asghar said that there is no cure for Dengue Virus, but the side effects of the virus can prove deadly if not treated with care. Currently doctors can only screen for the disease and provide patients with relief from the side effects caused by the virus such as severe dehydration, loss of blood, and fever.

Till date over 13,000 people have been screened for the virus, with over 2,000 testing positive for Dengue. The provincial health ministry, quoted  over 300 suspected cases of Dengue Virus were admitted to the hospital just within the last 24 hours.

KP Provincial Minster of Health Shahram Khan Tarakai says that the issue is being taken very seriously and efforts are being made to create awareness about the severity the disease. Health Minister Shahram Khan told VOA Deewa, “our goal is to make people aware of the seriousness of this virus and show our commitment to eradicate it.”.

Shahram Khan stated that, World Health Organization (WHO) international standards are being applied to counter the spread of the virus.

The WHO country office in Pakistan is said to be providing technical support to the Government of Pakistan in its response to the epidemic of dengue fever. WHO stated that they are committed to providing-“technical support, guidelines and capacity-building for planning and implementation in all three areas of prevention and control of dengue fever: vector control, case management and community awareness.” WHO is providing support to three provinces in Pakistan facing the epidemic, namely Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh.

Dr. Mujib ur Rehman who works with a Dengue Awareness Unit in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa told VOA Deewa that locals should take preventative measures by keeping artificial water containers covered, using mosquito nets, and applying bug repellent sprays to body. He also suyggested wearing covered clothing to help prevent getting bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Currently there are 1,797 suspected cases in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province being treated at Khyber Teaching Hospital (also referred to as Sherpao Hospital), Lady Reading Hospital, and Hayatabad Medical Complex for the Dengue virus.

 

 

 

Contributors:  Dr. Saima Asghar (VOA Deewa Health Reporter), Ibrahim Shinwari (VOA Deewa Reporter-FATA), Hameedullah Khan (VOA Deewa Reporter-Peshawar), Hashim Ali (VOA Deewa Cameraman), Dawood Jabarkhel (VOA Deewa Reporter-Peshawar)

 

 

Pakistan’s Population Doubles-2017 Preliminary Census Results

Posted August 26th, 2017 at 11:21 pm (UTC+0)
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Written by Niala Mohammad

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) carried out its sixth population census earlier this year after a 19 year long gap. According to the preliminary results Pakistan has had an overall 57% population increase since its last census conducted in 1998.

The 2017 preliminary census results show Pakistan’s population at 207.7 million; 106.45m males, 101.31m females and 10,418 transgenders.

According to the preliminary statistics, men outnumber women in Pakistan, there are 105 men for 100 women.

This was for the first time in the country’s history that the transgender community was counted separately in a nation-wide census. With the majority of the transgender population living in Punjab Province (Punjab 6,709, Sindh 2,527, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa 913, Islamabad 133 , Baluchistan 109 and 27 in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

 

With an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent, Pakistan’s population has more than doubled. The new data reveals an acceleration in the population growth rate of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), while growth in Punjab and Sindh has declined.

However, Punjab (110m) and Sindh (47m) still show as being the most populated provinces within Pakistan. Khyber Pukhtunkhwa  is the third most populated province estimated to have at 30m people, Baluchistan 12m, and FATA at roughly 5 million.

 

**Written by Niala Mohammad https://twitter.com/nialakhalil

**Information attained from Pakistan Bureau of Statistics <http://www.pbs.gov.pk> Read the rest of this entry »

General John Allen Applauds President Trump’s Strategy on Afghanistan

Posted August 24th, 2017 at 7:53 pm (UTC+0)
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Retired General John Allen, who commanded US and coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2011 until 2013, and Michael O’Hanlon, director of research and foreign policy program at Brookings Institution applauded President Trump’s new strategy on Afghanistan in their recent Op-Ed for USA Today, “Donald Trump Makes Right Moves In Afghanistan”. Brookings Institute recently held a seminar discussing President Trump’s policy in which General Allen answered VOA Deewa’s questions regarding Pakistan’s part within this new policy on helping fight the war on terrorism in the region.

VOA Deewa’s Iftikhar Hussain asked General John Allen a two prong question in which the general responded:

Iftikhar Hussain: “General John Allen, thank you very much for your perspective, my first question is, will President Trump’s policy that he announced last night, will change Pakistan behavior, I mean is it the right time because Pakistan has now moved itself to the China camp, and sort of things that were discussed, and there might be a temporary change, so the whole question comes down to one point, will it change the Pakistan behavior?”

“In addition, my second question is, again from John Allen, will it shift the momentum against the Taliban? You know the conditions on the ground, you being on the ground, what makes you believe that it will shift the momentum against the Taliban?”

General John Allen: “Well the comment that Pakistan has shifted to the China camp, that’s not a new revelation. The Chinese and the Pakistanis have been a very close partnership for a very long time, and I don’t know that it’ll change Pakistan’s behavior, but the President sought to make a case that he’s willing to work with Pakistan to see if we can find a new way forward, given the long term American commitment, ultimately, to Afghanistan’s future. To see if there is a possibility that way we can find a way forward with the Pakistanis. Either to deal with the issue of the safe-havens, I’m a bit skeptical about that, even under the conditions where a had nearly a hundred and fifty thousand troops in Afghanistan, and worked closely with the Pakistanis for cross-border operations, they were usually lukewarm at best in their efforts to do that.

That being a reality then, the conditions in Afghanistan have to go forward, recognizing that Pakistan may not change, but the President is right to try to seek a change in Pakistan’s behavior, to see if they can be both helpful on that issue of the safe-haven, but also be helpful in the process of the peace process.

Nothing happens fast in Afghanistan. Nothing is going to happen fast in this process as it goes forward, but I have been an adviser in a number of places. I know what advisors do for organizations and units, and the intent, of course, is to provide a broader contact with the Afghan national security forces, both in terms of our capacity to train them, and also our capacity ultimately to advise them as they move forward.

I don’t want to get into the political issues associated with Iraq, but when the time came ultimately for us to reinsert our forces into Iraq, and when we began to support the Iraqis in their offensive operations, it wasn’t until we made the decision to move advisers well forward, and the offensive operations, that we began to see real momentum occur. So that’s going to be the case here, I think, with roughly thirty-nine hundred troops, which is what we think that this number will be, many of them advisers, some of them advising down as low potentially as the battalion level, combat level, with American firepower in support, I think we can see some changes here. But once again we shouldn’t, we’ve got to all be realistic here, and I think for those of you that have been covering Afghanistan for some period of time, this is not going to change at a short order.

But it can begin the process of A, giving the national security forces confidence and begin, in those areas where the Afghans can make progress, to recover lost ground to recover control of population areas and key pieces of terrain in Afghanistan, we have the possibility here of beginning to do that.

And Roger, I get the point that this is the least-bad option of all the options, but the option of pulling out was certainly the worst of all the options, and when we were considering the departure from Afghanistan when I was a commander, my recommendation was thirteen thousand, six hundred troops plus another six thousand non-US NATO and partner forces, about twenty thousand. This helps, this gets our number back towards where we might have had the right number of US troops. I don’t suppose necessarily that we’re attempting to mimic that plan, but the President was also clear in going back to the Europeans and to NATO to get more forces as well.

So the idea, I think, for him as he expressed, and the one point about his speech is that it was long on aspiration but not long on detail, but I do know that there is some sufficient detail behind this plan. The intent would be to expand our capacity to touch the Afghan forces as much as we can, as broadly as we can, and as deep in their formation as we can. In those key areas where we need to recover ground and where we need to make progress.

So this isn’t a perfect solution and if we were looking for a perfect solution then we were going to be disappointed, but the President, and this is the key point I think, is that the President considered his way through this process and has made a decision. We’ve got good commanders on the ground, we’ve got a great commander in Afghanistan. These were numbers roughly that he asked for, we have a Secretary of Defense who’s prepared to go back to the President if necessary, and I think the strategy is going to be helpful.

To the issue of other aspects of the strategy. While the President today was talking about the military strategy, there are still significant consideration with respect to the military strategy providing the basis for stability within which the US and other partners can work with the Afghan government to improve its governance capacity, to include the issue of corruption but also, at the same time, provide the basis with stable governance to try to improve the economic conditions in Afghanistan as well. Those three issues, stability, governance, and economic progress, those are all inextricably linked, and we can’t have a conversation about the military dimension of what’s happening in Afghanistan without considering those other two legs of that triangle.

If you envisage that the security platform is the bottom of the triangle and the upper two legs are governance and economics, prospects of economic progress, all of those things are related and we have to think in those terms. The President’s speech today was much more about how we’re going to stabilize the security situation in order to create progress in those other two areas.”

 

 

**Contributing Editor-Niala Mohammad

**Transcript of verbatim question and response were provided by The Brookings Institute.

Syrian Refugees and the International Immigration Crisis

Posted August 16th, 2017 at 8:13 pm (UTC+0)
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Written by Niala Mohammad 

Dr. Henna Qureshi recently returned from Zaatari Camp, the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world located in Jordan, where she volunteered her pediatric services with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). To her astonishment, she found that the majority of refugees in the camp (60%-65%) were orphaned children. The UNHCR reported that Syria is now the world’s biggest producer of both internally displaced people and refugees (refugee estimates range from 4-5 million). Neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq have absorbed the majority of Syrian refugees fleeing from conflict over the past six years. But many countries including America remain reluctant to welcome Syrian refugees, further adding complexities to this international immigration crisis.

Although the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data indicates that the majority of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria are women and children, many fear the conflict will allow extremist individuals to migrate and spread their ideology. During his presidential campaign President Trump stated, “We have no idea who these people are, we are the worst when it comes to paperwork. This could be one of the great Trojan horses. We cannot let them into this country, period. Our country has tremendous problems. We can’t have another problem.”

This perception has created an atmosphere of fear, Dr. Qureshi stated, “[in regards to the Syrian refugees crisis] there seems to be a focus in the media on the ‘bad guys’ or the ‘terrorists’, but the people that are being most effected are the children and the single mothers that are trying to protect them.” UNICEF estimates that 2.5 million of the Syrian refugees are children, which makes up half of the refugee population.

Dr. Qureshi stated, “on a normal day, I would see anywhere from 70 to 75 children’, suffering from treatable diseases that became chronic due to lack of treatment, poor facilities, and subhuman living conditions.” She added that many of the children were suffering from psychological disorders like PTSD due to trauma from the war.

While some individuals like Dr. Henna Qureshi remain empathetic to the refugees, many remain reluctant to embrace refugees fleeing the war in Syria. A retired Veteran from Iraq & Afghanistan who asked to remain anonymous candidly stated, “They are going to grow up and bring that stuff here with them, next thing you know we have terrorists floating around America. Why aren’t Arab countries like Saudi Arabia taking them in? They are not our responsibility.” Many Americans are in agreement with this view and sentiment, in fact a study done by the PEW Center for Research suggests, 54% of American voters feel the U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept refugees from Syria into the country, while 41% say the U.S. does have such a responsibility.

Despite these opinions, the United States has accepted a fair amount of refugees, particularly from predominately Muslim countries which includes Syria. In fact, the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) interactive data indicates over 20,000 individuals from Syria have entered the United States from the onset of the conflict in 2011, with a sharp increase over the past year.

However, this pattern is likely to drastically decrease given President Trump’s proposed executive order that bans immigration from 6 (previously 7) majority Muslim countries including Syria. President Trump’s initial executive order issued in January specifically mentioned Syrian refugees, stating “the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.

While questions regarding President Trump’s immigration policy remain an issue of debate, Syrian refugees who have already taken up residence in America face a different set of questions and issues.

Raghad Bushnaq, the founder and executive manager of Mozaic, a nonprofit organization that provides support to the Syrian refugee community in the DMV area. “We have about 180 families that are only Syrian refugees. Of course we help other Afghan and Iraqi refugees but the number of Syrian refugees are big. Many of the families are widowed women with their kids…[the refugees] face psychological difficulties and a good number of them have disabilities.”

Raghad added that many of the Syrian refugees love it in America and want to remain here because of better educational opportunities for their children. However she also mentioned that “many of them are thinking seriously to go back whenever everything is peaceful in Syria again.” Raghad said that the refugees that are looking forward to returning are the ones that are having the most difficult time transitioning to life in America.

Ranaa arrived in Virginia three years ago, “I had a good life in Syria, but my family and I had to leave everything because the situation was so bad. We feared our lives.” When I asked her if she would return to Syria if the conflict resolved she stated, “I am not here on vacation, look at my life here! My husband can’t find work, we live in a rented apartment, and we have no car. And we are running out of our savings. My children are unhappy, we miss our family, our friends, and we miss our house. I think we cannot wait to return to Syria InshAllah.”

Dr. Qureshi recalled that she heard similar sentiments from her Syrian refugee patients. She stated, “People don’t realize that the refugees don’t want to be here. We think of the American Dream, but they were living the Syrian dream before… They are fleeing from a place that is at war. They are just trying to protect their family and children. I think we [as Americans] are so proud of where we come from that we forget that others are also proud of where they come from.”

iGem Peshawar Wins Bronze Medal

Posted November 16th, 2016 at 7:13 pm (UTC+0)
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by Niala Mohammad

A group of 7 biotechnology undergraduate students from Peshawar nabbed the Bronze medal at MIT’s  annual “iGem Competition”. The iGEM, or the international genetically engineered machines competition, is an annual flagship student contest hosted by MIT. This year iGem had 301 competitors from across the globe. iGem Peshawar was the sole representation of Pakistan, whereas India had 8 different teams that made it to the iGem competition. Dr Faisal Khan, the lead of the iGem Peshawar team, as well as the director of the Institute of Integrative Bio-sciences at CECOS University, Peshawar proudly stated, “Our lab in Peshawar is the only one in the country! That is why top biotechnology students from all over Pakistan flock to it. This is something we are really proud of!”

Dr Faisal Khan said that the iGem Peshawar team is a group of 12 mostly Pashtun students that were selected out of hundreds of applicants throughout Pakistan. However, due to funding only seven of twelve students could travel to Boston to take part in the final stages of the competition. Dr. Faisal Khan told VOA Deewa, “all of the girls in our iGem Peshawar team are Pashtun, hailing from Waziristan, Mardan, Swat, and Peshawar.”

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The iGem Peshawar team created a biosensor for the detection of levels of CO and NOx (Carbon Monoxide and Oxide of Nitrogen) in vehicle emissions. The sensor invented by the iGem Peshawar team is a cost effective, time efficient, easy to use, and compact. The strip technology can help improve air quality by detecting CO and NOx.

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The inhalation of these lethal gases are hazardous to human health. In Fact, the Global Atmospheric Pollution Forum states that Carbon Monoxide, “at higher concentrations, exposure can cause impaired vision and coordination; headaches; dizziness; confusion; nausea. Acute effects are due to the formation of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood, which inhibits oxygen intake. Exposure to CO at moderate concentrations, angina attacks, impaired vision, and reduced brain function may result. At very high concentrations, CO exposure can be fatal.” And, “Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) are a family of gases that can cause a number of serious health effects. One form of NOx, nitrogen dioxide, is unhealthy to breathe, especially for children, the elderly, asthmatics and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. NOx is also a key component to the formation of ozone and photochemical oxidants. Breathing low levels of ozone, for example, can trigger asthma attacks and other problems for people with preexisting respiratory problems.”

The new sensor developed by the iGem Peshawar team can be used for more than just testing vehicle emissions, it can also be used to test space heaters and portable gas stoves used by the majority of households in Pakistan. Although cars are a major contributor to air pollution in the world, inhalation of poisonous gaseous material from household heaters and cookers is a more imminent threat in Pakistan where a number of people die each year due to its inhalation.

The iGem Peshawar team not only devised a solution to curb air pollution world-wide but addressed a pertinent domestic issue. Congrats Team iGem Peshawar – Rabia Gul Dawar (South Waziristan), Sarah Farooq (Mardan), Sidra Usman (Peshawar), Maleeha Mashkoor (Peshawar), Abdul Hadi Abro (Hyderabad), Sami Ullah (Swat), Muhammad Ali (Karachi), Rayyan Khan (Lahore), Masoom Hossein (Peshawar), Asif Hanif (Kalat), Mansoor Saleem (Swat), Muhammad Ismail (Karachi), Dr. Faisal Khan (Mardan)

Learn more about iGem here: http://igem.org/Main_Page

iGem Peshawar Team Official site: http://2016.igem.org/Team:Peshawar

iGem Peshawar Team Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/igempeshawar/

 

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#RediscoverKP

Posted October 11th, 2016 at 8:38 pm (UTC+0)
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#RediscoverKP #GoZest Initiative aims at bringing tourism back to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and changing the negative stereotypes associated with the province and its people.

 

A group of young men and women who were sick of being synonymous with negative connotations, took it upon themselves to change the perception of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Pashtuns. Under the banner of #GoZest, these youngsters invited the rest of Pakistan to #RediscoverKP. Traditionally known as “the land of hospitality”, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa is now commonly associated with extremism, terrorism, insecurity, and intolerance. Pakistan, and in particular Khyber Pukhtunkhwa is perceived as one of the most dangerous places in the world, adversely affecting the tourism industry in the region. The #GoZest Initiative aims at bringing tourism back to KP, and changing the negative stereotypes associated with the province and its people.

#GoZest

GOZEST was Pakistan’s very first 5-day cultural retreat. The event attracted more one hundred and seventy participants ranging from ages 20 to 30 from all over Pakistan. GoZest gave participants a taste of Pashtun hospitality and allowed them to experience the hidden beauty of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Partakers in the excursions viewed five different scenic areas within Abbottabad District including Naththia Gali, Khanaspur, Donga Gali, Bara Gali, and Ayubia.

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Participants explored Naththia Gali, Khanaspur, Donga Gali, Bara Gali, and Ayubia

Apart from daily excursions, participants took part in interactive sessions, question/answer panel discussions, and networking activities. Because the event attracted leading young personalities from the world of business development, politics, media, civil society, and academia participants were provided with a platform to discuss national challenges towards democracy, education, and peace. Overall the experience enabled inter-cultural dialogue and promoted national integrity. Participants left with a unified vision of peace and harmony for Pakistan and a positive impression of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.

Day 1: Arrival Day

The opening ceremony of #GoZest was held in Abbottabad with British-Pakistani journalist and film producer Reham Khan as the Chief Guest. After a series of motivational speeches by guest speakers and event coordinators, participants were registered and assigned to their hotel rooms in Nathiagali.

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“It is up to the youth of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, to change the image of their province. No one else will do it for you.” –Reham Khan

 

 

 

Day 2: Promoting Tourism to #RediscoverKP: 

Delegates were divided into groups of 15 with a designated guide as they embarked a series of activities which included a friendly cricket match at the historic Khanaspur Cricket Ground located in Ayubia. The cricket ground is at an altitude of about 2250 meters (7500 feet) above sea level. Next the participants trekked the 4km Pipeline from Ayubia to Donga Gali. Participants took chair lifts to Ayubia National Park, where they planted 1500 plants donated by the Galiyath Development Authority as #gogreen initiative.

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Khanaspur Cricket Ground located in Ayubia. The cricket ground is at an altitude of about 2250 meters (7500 feet) above sea level.

 Day 3: Cultural Exchange:

The third day involved a visit from young political activist Sardar Sami from Azad Jammu Kashmir and Senator Javed Abbassi of Murree. The day progressed with a visit to Lalazar Safari Park located on Lalazar mountaintop in Nathiagali.

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Sardar Sami of Azad Jammu Kashmir a addresses #GoZest participants. 

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Senator Javed Abbassi of Murree speaks to #GoZest participants about the need for youth to partake in the Democratic system. 

That evening guests participated in a celebration of cultural exchange. Participants were encouraged to wear their traditional ethnic dress and introduce the group to their respective cultures via mini-presentations.  Meanwhile, the hosts of #GoZest entertained the participants with traditional food, music and entertainment of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province. Pashtun folk singer Fayaz Kheshgi wooed crowds with his patriotic tunes.

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The hosts of #GoZest entertained participants with traditional food, music and entertainment of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province. 

 

 

Day 4: Exploring Khyber Pukhtunkhwa:

Day four of #GoZest2016 began with in interactive dialogue amongst participants themed, “peace and harmony”. This was followed by a hiking excursion to Mushkpuri Trek. Mushkpuri Top is a 4 kilometers (2.5 mile) trek located 9,400 feet above sea level in Nathiagali, Abottabad. Once participants reached the magnificent hilltop, they took part in an interactive training session conducted by renowned psychologist and a life coach Ibrahim Siawash. The evening ended with musical entertainment.

 

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Mushkpuri Top is a 4 kilometers (2.5 mile) trek located 9,400 feet above sea level in Nathiagali, Abottabad.

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Nazia Parveen-FATA’s first female athlete with fellow participants at #GoZest2016

Day 5: #GoHome:

The closing included keynote speeches by the Guests of Honor including government officials. Final thoughts on how the young generation of Pakistan can contribute to promoting peace and harmony in the country through promoting tourism and culture. Guests were presented with certificates of honor and shield awards for their participation and valuable contribution to #GoZest.

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The closing ceremony was conducted at the Abbottabad Press Club. Guests of Honor included; Shamun Yar Khan Abbasi, Omer Sher Khan, Shahzeb Anwer Hazarywal, Asad Javed Khan, Sardar Shafiq, Arshad Hussain (Director Youth Affairs KP),  Kashif Rehman Khalil (SPO) and Abid Atozai (PYA).

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“It is the younger generation’s responsibility to change the negative perception of Pashtuns and their land. Promoting tourism will not only help promote the image of KP but also boost the economy, and employment sectors.  By promoting tourism, #RediscoverKP is trying to break the link that is often automatically associated between Pashtuns and terrorism.”-Abid Atozai

Trends and Impact:

#Gozest was an extremely successful event and took to social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat) like wildfire. #RediscoverKP and  #GoZest reached more than 30 million people on Twitter and Facebook. In fact these hashtags reached first position on Twitter’s “Pakistan trends panel”.

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Written by Niala Mohammad 

Photos courtesy of #GoZest 

“Jaanan” Shatters Stereotypes Associated with Pashtuns

Posted September 17th, 2016 at 7:24 pm (UTC+0)
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By: Niala Mohammad Khalil 

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“Jaanan” is a 2016 Pakistani romantic comedy film which revolves around a Pashtun family from Swat.

The film was directed by Azfar Jafri, written by Osman Khalid Butt, and co-produced by Hareem Farooq, Reham Khan, Munir Hussain and Imran Raza Kazmi. The film stars Armeena Khan, Bilal Ashraf, and Ali Rehman Khan in lead roles. It also stars seasoned Pashtun cinema actors such as Ajab Gul and Nausaaba.

The movie shattered several negative stereotypes associated with Pashtuns and was perhaps the first movie in Pakistani cinema that depicts Pashtuns in a positive and progressive light. The movie shows Pashtuns as educated, non-violent, modern, and classy. This is a refreshing change considering Pashtuns have continuously been depicted as uneducated, aggressive, and backwards in Lollywood.

Although the movie is light-hearted, the script-writer touched upon heavy social issues such as education, and child sexual abuse. The female characters in the storyline are showed as strong and independent not oppressed.

Critics of Reham Khan and the film claim that the movie “doesn’t paint an accurate picture of Swat” and have referred to the movie as a “waste”. However others consider it “a must see film”. Rozina Khan, an audience member, told VOA Deewa, “Jaanan, finally shows Pashtuns in a proper manner. I brought my daughter with me to show her the softer side of Pashtun culture.”

The visuals and aesthetics were beautiful and the costume design was impeccable. Another audience member Esha said, “I want to go to Swat after seeing this movie.”

Although the main characters were not fluent in Pashto they tried their very best to incorporate Pashto words in their dialogue. You have to appreciate the use of the extensive Pashto language, the comedy and the incorporation of Ghani Khan’s poetry used in the song “Reidi Gul”.

Ali Rehman Khan, undoubtedly takes the cake for his role in “Jaanan”. But for Pashtuns, the highlight of the movie was Naushaaba, who plays the “grandmother” of the Khan family. Her comedic disdain for her granddaughter’s Punjabi fiancé is an epic twist on the usual dig against Pashtuns.

Eid ul Adha-Across the Durand

Posted September 14th, 2016 at 5:47 pm (UTC+0)
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Although Eid ul Adha heavily revolves around the concept of sacrifice, Pashtuns in the region associate this holiday with fashion and of course food.

Children in Charsadda & Khost wearing their most colorful and sparkly outfits

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Young men wearing traditional hand embroidered “jama’ clothing in Paktika and Khost. %d9%be%da%a9%d8%aa%db%8c%da%a9%d8%a7-%d9%88%d9%84%d8%a7%db%8c%d8%aa14349214_1022471984545151_1960841955_n

Elder men dressed in traditional clothes, polished shoes, fashionable vests, and traditional head-wear in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khost.

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Young men sporting the newest trends in Charsadda and Khost.

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Picnics in Kabul and Barbecues Peshawar.

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Pictures Courtesy of Voice of America Deewa Reporters Arshad Mohmand (KP & FATA) and Haqmal Rawan (Kabul)

Write-up: Niala Mohammad

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