Mr. Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi is a 22 year old man, who lives in Islamabad, Pakistan. Very recently, he, along with his friends, started a youth movement, that by the looks of it is all set to change the course of our country. With planned and organized rallies being held throughout the country, the Pakistan Youth Alliance is serving its purpose well by providing a platform for the youth of today.
The PYA, although only initiated a few months back, has already shown its potential, and will hopefully lead Pakistan forward! I got a chance to talk to Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi about the PYA, the difficulties he had to face, and his achievements and the future of Pakistan, and his commitment to his cause is a force to reckon with.
VP- Tell me about your movement, the Pakistan Youth Alliance. What is it about?
PYA- PYA is silent revolution; it is by no means a rebellious initiative. We don’t like to point, we aim to change! We don’t mean to burn, we aim to spark! PYA is a youth motivated, youth run, and youth centered non-political/ indigenous movement which aims to wake the youth of Pakistan from the sleep of apathy. We have had it with the flaws, we have had it with injustice and we have had it being quiet. The anger in us all boils our inside so much that we wish to scream, but if we come out on streets in an unorganized manner, no one would listen.
We are educated, we are enlightened and we wish to change the mindsets! We start from self-accountability and self realization (Khudi – Iqbal) and then wish to spread the vibes in our schools, universities and neighborhoods. We want to realize the dream of Iqbal and make it Quaid’s Pakistan. We want to change the attitude “this is Pakistan, everything works!”. We want to make the kids realize that they would have to lead this country, in whatever capacity they would be, so they must be mentally prepared to put their country’s interest before personal gains and lusts. We wish to nourish their souls, so that 160 million souls coincide to form such a strong bond, that it won’t be broken and no one would dare challenge our sovereignty and eye our land!
We started as three people, we are getting hundreds of e-mails and calls every day of youth wanting to join us. From Bajaur (non-Talibanized youth) to Toronto, Pakistan, the youth yearns to be noticed and we will provide a stable platform for them, so that they are heard! And they have the courage to challenge what is wrong, even if it is a small matter in their vicinities. From individual to a collective level – that is how we aim to live the change we want to see in this country
VP- What motivated or inspired you to start this?
PYA- I was like everyone else. I was sitting at Hotspot with some friends, who were here from Harvard and some who were just angry at what drama had unfolded in the country, I am talking about the time of emergency, when the only emergency seemed to be in President’s House. The moment emergency was announced, we started roaming around in the capital to see where the emergency was at, but we couldn’t find it anywhere.
When some people thought that keeping us in the dark and blocking media and outside world contact might help us absorb what they were doing, we had this sudden revelation that we have to stand up. If we won’t, who will? This anger in us, when channelized properly, gave us the strength and courage to stand up and make ourselves heard, and by the grace of God, we are at least trying.
VP- What difficulties have you had to/still face with regard to the development of the PYA?
PYA- Difficulties! The more precious the thing is, the harder it is to get. Nature teaches us that. The more the struggle, the greater the rift and the in the end, the greater the prize! We are facing pressures from everyone, families to intelligence to big shot political parties, this has never happened in the history of this country. We are being stopped in every step. They try to malign what is so needed, you can’t ignore it! You have to fight and remain true, like a soldier in war, we won’t give up, even if it takes everything away from us.
VP- What would you call your success milestones over the years?
PYA- I got a call from Bajaur agency, a young passionate Pakistani who loved Pakistan to the core, his village was bombed, 42 members of his family died and he still had the purity to love his country! He called and wanted to join us, I met him and he melted my heart.
I did an event that got postponed to another date due to weather conditions, a woman in green Vitz with a Pakistan flag souring high from her window came with her little kids, I stood there and it melted my heart.
I get e-mails and calls daily from America to Japan, passionate Pakistani youth wanting to join us. That is my milestone, and that is what gives me hope and instills in me, greater faith! We are good people, Pakistanis, we just need to learn from our past and wake up. Like Iqbal says, “God hasn’t changed the state of that nation, that which in itself does not want to change!” We need to understand Iqbal; his words are enough to guide us and show us light.
VP- What reaction did you get from your family and peers when you told them your plans regarding the PYA?
PYA- Initially, my family didn’t support me. They had issues with me being a “kid” and “trying to be a hero” but with time they realized that a person has to do what he has to do. They realized that if they, the educated lot would stop me from trying to wake people up, imagine what would happen to the rest 70 % of the uneducated?
I request every parent/guardian/teacher reading this, that it is your responsibility more than mine to try and change the mind sets of the strayed youth of this country. We are 60% of the total population. We are the future of this country, you did a terrible job and brought us here, at least realize it now and prepare little soldiers in your houses. If you would discourage them, we would cease to be. The whole world is after us!
VP- To what extent is the media influential in enhancing the mental development of the youth?
PYA- Media can play the role of the catalyst to reform our society, it needs to be more responsible and create the right “hype “. All this negativity won’t help! How many programs have you seen on these 30 odd TV channels with good looking women being the newscasters and reporting that Shahrukh Khan’s new movie has been released? They need to set their priorities straight and play the role of a catalyst rather than making fuss all the time!
VP-Can the PYA ever serve as a foundation for a political career in the future for you?
PYA- I am already being contacted by big shot political personalities asking to join them. But the seeds that I have sown will take time to grow, let it grow and if this dream transforms into reality, you will see us running this country.
VP- What does the youth of today mean to you?
PYA- Youth of today is a dark house. Youth of today is the light at the end of the tunnel. Youth of today would define who we would be in 2020. Youth of today can lead us. They are the ONLY HOPE!
Very few people at such a young age actually take the initiative to work towards such causes, and I, like many other people my age, was thoroughly impressed with what the PYA has planned in the near future. Such movements have potential, and will hopefully, go a long way!