Gujranwala, Pakistan: “Gujranwala Division which hugely contributes to the national economy being the largest rice-growing land and popular for large-scale, medium scale and cottage industries lacks basic civic facilities and politicians are yet to address the problems of the common man.
Politicians have miserably failed to address problems being faced by the public and elections were always held by offering a promising future to the public but practically nothing was offered to the common man who had been used just as currency to get power by politicians”.
These were observations of participants during the Annual workshop conducted by the International Relations and Political Science program of GIFT University Gujranwala. The two-session workshop focused on local issues of Gujranwala in the first sitting while the second sitting was assigned to discussing the foreign affairs of Pakistan.
The workshop held on January 17, 2024, was attended by a large number of students of the university and was addressed by local and national experts.
The topic of the first session of the workshop was “Local issues, elections, and solutions”.
Keynote speaker Agha Iqrar Haroon (research journalist and political analyst) shed light on the vital role of people in society and public awareness.
Dr Javed Iqbal (Chief Executive of Dunya News Gujranwala) was of the view that the local language which is Punjabi must be promoted and documented because the role of the local language in society was incredibly important. He thought that local languages were not just a means of communication but also carried the rich cultural heritage and identity of a community.
Regional and health problems were discussed by Dr Sarfraz (CEO and founder of Al Shifa Future Hospital). He focused on self-assessment for the people to resolve issues. Health and climate change were also highlighted as pressing concerns, focusing on finding sustainable solutions to protect our environment and promote public health.
Economic issues were addressed by Dr Hafiz M. Abubakar (Assistant Professor at the Department of Business and Commerce, GIFT University Gujranwala). He discussed the major economic concerns and stated that 40% of the economy was undocumented and informal. As a result, the working class suffered a lot.
He emphasized that businesses must be registered so that the rights of laborers could be ensured. He was of the view that Pakistan was an agrarian economy and the Gujranwala region had been a major supplier of it. However rapid urbanization had destroyed agrarian land and it was crucial to find a balance between urban development and preserving agricultural land. He added that horizontal construction was eating out agrarian lands, resulting in a sharp decrease in the production of white rice in the Gujranwala Division. He feared that the situation was so alarming that it was hampering the food security of the country because Gujranwala was a food basket of the country. He said that the state was not looking into this grave and serious issue and rules were flouted to please real estate developers at the cost of national food security-related issues. He stated that vertical civic development must be promoted for sustainable urbanization by utilizing vertical space efficiently, allowing for more housing options without encroaching on precious agricultural land. Talking about the issue of unemployment, he informed participants that GIFT University had started a program by the name of “Entrepreneurship”, in which students got practical experience in business development, marketing, and finance.
“A person must not hesitate to start his work from zero. Lack of vocational education is one of our economic declines. There are only 3,634 vocational institutes in Pakistan. And this is not enough for a population of 250 million people. We need more vocational institutes in our country to produce skilled labor”, he concluded.
Agha Iqrar Haroon raised a point that there was a time when the demand for Pakistani male and female nurses in the Gulf was very high but now the demand drastically declined because our institutions offered simple diplomas in nursing while the demand of the world was with specialization in derma, cardio, and pediatrics. Haroon was of the view that Pakistan had worked on the vocational training of youth so youth could meet the standards of the world.
Recommendations suggested by the students
The main aim of organizing this session is the student’s direct interaction with the guests. Students had raised many questions regarding the Gujranwala region. Hereunder are some of them:
Gujranwala is a city known for its fertile land, primarily used for agriculture. Establishing an agricultural university in Gujranwala is crucial in this context, and it is highly needed to address the agricultural needs of Gujranwala and the surrounding areas.
A number of students study in different institutes in Gujranwala. In which girls and women are also included. There must be a public transport system for Gujranwala city. So that students may easily travel.
Local transport authorities increase the fare of local transportation arbitrarily, citing the rise in petroleum prices as a reason for the hike. However, when petroleum prices decrease, they do not reduce the transportation fares accordingly
Build an overhead bridge in front of GIFT University to potentially reduce traffic and allow people to cross the road more easily.
A large number of students from Gujranwala moved to Lahore, Islamabad. As there are public sector universities there. There must be a public-sector university in Gujranwala.
Autos produce Chloroform which results in the form of climate change. Authorities put ban on these autos and must ensure them to use filters.