PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has launched the Minority Youth Exposure Programme (MYEP) to provide opportunities for young male and female members of different minorities to interact with each other and build their capabilities.
The programme began on April 8 with a first batch of 26 members from different minorities, including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ismailis and Bahais. Since then, another two groups have taken part.
More participants will be inducted in the coming months, according to officials.
"The focus is on well-educated youth who have been studying at local educational institutions to provide them exposure and arrange interactive sessions, motivational speeches and... meetings with political figures, businessmen and academics," Amina Khan, spokesperson for the programme, said in an interview.
The programme was launched by the KP Ministry of Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs with the goal of capacity building of minority youth, she said.
Memorable trips to Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi
"The first batch visited Islamabad and held meetings at the office of the prime minister, the Pakistani parliament, the Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the National Institute of Health," Khan said.
The minority youth also participated in cleaning up the footpaths of F-7 Islamabad to improve their sense of civic responsibility and volunteerism, she added.
Meanwhile, a second group of 45 young men and women returned from Lahore on April 17.
"The group had a remarkable experience of visiting the Punjab Assembly, historical buildings, cultural sites and literary places in Lahore," said Khan, adding that the programme provided exceptional opportunities for the young participants to learn about different ethnicities, politics, business and more.
The group, while meeting with Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs Ijaz Alam, discussed the Minorities' Empowerment Package, new legislation and the implementation of existing laws that help marginalised religious communities, she said.
The third group of the MYEP visited Karachi, including the Shri Swaminarayan temple, Shri Varun Dev temple and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
At the Sindh Assembly house, the 30-member group also held meetings with lawmakers including Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Khurram Sher Zaman and Ramesh Kumar.
'A good experience'
Many of the programme's students said they were happy to discover new places.
"The programme was a good experience that provided exposure to the youth from minorities and boosted their confidence," said Jateesh Kumar, a member of the delegation.
"I didn't know much about the Parliament House, but after visiting the place I came to know how it works and why it is important for the country," said Zunaira Michael, a member of the Christian community.
Saranjeet Kaur of the Sikh community said she believes the programme helped her learn how to be positive in life, live with peace and respect other religions.
"The exposure programme showed us the colours of diversity and interfaith harmony during the one-week interaction," she said.