Balkh Youth Conference | Think Big

The Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO), in cooperation with the Culture and Information Director of Balkh Province, the White Social Organization (The White Assembly) and other prominent national and international organizations, successfully organized the Balkh Youth Conference (Think Big) focusing on human rights, freedom, democracy and prosperity with the participation of more than 200 youths coming from Balkh & surrounding provinces on February 18, 2021 in Balkh province.

Participants of the conference honoring the National Anthem of Afghanistan…

In this one-day conference, in addition to the presence of local officials of Balkh province; people’s representatives in the Provincial Council, university lecturers, civil and human rights activists, and dozens of young people and students came together and learned about the values of democracy, freedom, human rights, prosperity, mutual acceptance and the fight against extremism. The participants also shared their plans through group work they had in the second half of the conference for institutionalizing the values of human rights, democracy, peace, and freedom in the country.

The speakers of the conference called the institutionalization of mutual acceptance, values of human rights, prosperity and freedom the bases of peace and prosperity in the country and stressed on the need to promote these values through youths in Afghanistan. One the other hand, the conference participants expressed their support for the values of peace, freedom and mutual acceptance, calling these components civil and social forces against extremism and terrorism.

Abdul Latif Barekzai while opening the conference…

The conference was inaugurated by Abdul Qaher Beheshti, head of research department and board member of the AELSO. In his speech, he stated that the Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO) in its nearly two decades of continuous efforts for promoting free society values in accordance with the teachings of the holy religion of Islam in the country has gone through many ups and downs as the result of what now it is operating voluntarily in 28 provinces and cities of Afghanistan.

Abdul Qaher Beheshti presenting his opening remarks…

The head of AELSO’s research department stated that justice between values ​​and the promotion of human values ​​in compatibility with the values ​​of the holy religion of Islam and the fight against extremism through empowering the youths with democratic and free society values are the main goals of the Balkh Youth Conference.

Beheshti said:

“The main vision and goal of the Balkh Youth Conference is to educate the participants about human rights, democracy, freedom, prosperity and mutual acceptance, and gather their ideas and thoughts on how to better promote and institutionalize these values in the country. The result of all these discussions will be published in a research based booklet which will serve as a policy guide for good governance, institutionalizing human values and fighting against extremism in the country.”

Mr. Beheshti

The head of research department of AELSO while addressing the different authorities sent specific message to them via the conference tribune and said:

“Our message to the government is to take the maximum benefit out of every opportunity, especially the existing ones, to ensure peace and prosperity, and to give a fundamental role to the youth. Our message to world society is not to allow Afghanistan to once again become safe haven for extremist groups and to remain a partner with the Afghan people. Our message to the dear youth is to stop baseless criticism and to contribute to the development and progress of the country by presenting their practical plans and programs, and to use their youthful energy for mutual acceptance, freedom, prosperity and institutionalization of human rights values ​​in Afghanistan. .

Hujjatul Islam Mohammad Javad Sarabi while addressing the participants…

Hujjatul Islam Mohammad Javad Sarabi spoke about the role of Ulema (religious scholars) in promoting the ideas of tolerance, and added:

“The fundamental mission of the scholars is to promote the ideas of prosperity and peace according to the teachings of the Qur’an and the prophetic hadiths among the communities, and I’m calling on all the religious scholars in the country to play their parts in creating a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan through promoting democratic and free society values among the people through mosques.”

Mati-ur-Rahman Karimi, Information and Culture Directorate of Balkh Province while addressing the audience…

Mati-ur-Rahman Karimi, Information and Culture Directorate of Balkh Province, welcomed the participants and thanked the Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO) for organizing Balkh Youth Conference. He called the presence and role of youth in all social and political fields important and encouraged their participation in the country’s social and political matters.

Karimi said:

“Given the percentage of young people in the country, they are the most influential part of the society in terms of collective destiny. With unity and mutual acceptance, young people can offer new solutions to many social and cultural challenges, and be a role model for positive change towards enlightenment in the country.”

Ms. Shahla Hadid, Director of Women’s Affairs in Balkh Province…

Continuing the program, Ms. Shahla Hadid, Director of Women’s Affairs in Balkh Province spoke about the role of women in promoting and protecting human rights values and said:

Bearing the social and religious responsibility, our actions should be in the path of enlightenment and humanity so the human right is ensured in the country. Follow the righteous people and make the future free of discrimination and extremism for ourselves and our future generations. The essential part of an individual’s personality is influenced by mother’s upbringing which means the women have the influential role on individual’s personality who can make a valuable contribution to promoting and protecting human rights values ​​in the family and society.”

Ms. Shahla Hadid, Director of Women’s Affairs in Balkh Province…

In the second part of the program; an expert panel was moderated by Najibullah Sulaimankhil, AELSO’s board member. The panel members who were comprised of university lecturers, social and women’s rights activists, talked about the components of human right, fight against extremism, tolerance, prosperity, the current challenges, opportunities and threats toward promoting democratic and free society values in the country followed the questions raised by the participants and answers given by the panel members.

Panel of experts…

The third part of the conference was group work. In this part, the participants were divided into four groups to discuss the causes of extremism, its consequences, and strategies for effectively tackling it in Afghanistan. At the end of the group work, one member from every group has been given sufficient time to present the result of the group work. The results of these group work and ideas shared in all these conferences and symposiums will be published in a research booklet.

Participants during group work…

In this program, more than 200 youths of Balkh province collectively called the spread of extremism worrying and considered this phenomenon as one of the main reasons for the continuation of war and violence in the country. According to these youths, the intelligence circles of number of neighboring countries, with the cooperation of some extremist religious institutions in the region, are leading the Afghan youth toward extremism and violence.

Participants while raising their questions…

These young people say that the Balkh Youth Conference provides a unique opportunity for young people to fight against extremism through promoting the values of peace, prosperity and human rights in society.

Lutfur Rahman Rahmani, University lecturer and one of the participants of the conference...
Lutfur Rahman Rahmani, University lecturer and one of the participants of the conference…

Fawzia Ahmadi one of the participants of the conference said:

“Extremism has increased immensely, people suffer from extremism, and it has hindered prosperity, mutual acceptance and peace in many ways in society. It has even prevented girls from going to school.

Fawzia Ahmadi one of the participants of the conference…

Mr. Motahar Pishwa, another participant of the conference said:

“Extremism is one of the major problems facing young people, which leads them toward joining extremist groups. Therefore, organizing such programs in this critical condition by the AELSO‌ and its dedicated team will surely contribute to preventing the youths from joining the extremist groups and guide them toward living together in harmony and peace.

Motahar Pishwa one of the participants of the conference…

The conference was concluded by Mr. Abdul Qaher Beheshti, head of research department of AELSO who summarized the conference and the next steps to be taken by the AELSO for conveying the ideas and thoughts shared by youths to the authorities and international community.

Beheshti reminded to the participants that the National Youth Conference – 2021 (NYC – 2021) is going to be organized in one of the major cities of the country. Considering the level of interest of Balkh youths in this conference, we will surely consider Balkh province as one of the cities for organizing NYC -2021 and we will also prefer selecting the participants of today’s conference for the NYC -2021 as well.

Beheshti while concluding the conference…

Also in this conference, the book “Islamic Foundations of a Free Society”, “Peace, Love, & Liberty” and other valuable books written in the field of Market economy, Democracy and Liberty, have been introduced to the participants as the main references for better understanding of the compatibility of free society values with the teachings of the holy religion of Islam. As a side event of the conference, there was a book fair as well where the AELSO team exhibited & introduced well-known literature’s written by famous writers and translated by the AELSO to the participants of the conference.

Bookfair as a side event of the conference…

The Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO) is determined to organize such conferences in different provinces of Afghanistan in order to promote the ideas of Peace, Prosperity & Liberty, and the fight against extremism in the country. Those interested in promoting peace, human rights, liberty, Prosperity, and fight against extremism, can join the Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO) and proudly contribute to creating a democratic & peaceful Afghanistan through our different initiative such as Liberty Club & AELSO Academy.

Sayed Ghani Maqsoodyar AELSO’s provincial fellow…

For more details about the conference, you can watch Paikan TV’s report produced on Balkh Youth Conference here.

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