Three days Vice Chancellors (VCs) Conference on Peaceful and Tolerant University Campuses concluded with a resolution to undertake collaborative practical steps to promote values of peace, tolerance, harmony, respect for diversity, and co-existence at the university campuses through ensuring the effective engagement of students and student-centric approach. They pledged full support for various initiatives aimed at promoting peace, inclusivity, harmony, and tolerance in society.

The conference was organized by Community Resilience Activity-North (CRA-North) in collaboration with the Inter-University Consortium (IUCPSS) and other organizations. The conference witnessed active participation from over 60 esteemed delegates, including 45 Vice Chancellors and senior representatives representing universities across the country including the Newly Merged Districts of KP, Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh and Islamabad. Under the theme of “Unity through Diversity: Embracing Differences,” the conference addressed critical issues pertaining to campus environments and student interactions. The event emphasized the significance of peaceful coexistence, understanding, and mutual respect among students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds.

Distinguished speakers, including renowned educationists and experts, delivered thought-provoking keynote address and participated in the panel discussions. They highlighted the importance of creating safe and friendly spaces and promoting dialogue to bridge gaps among individuals with varying perspectives, capacity development of the faculty, updating curriculum on peacebuilding and tolerance, investment in science and technology to produce skilled youth, strengthening the link between the administration and students, development of peace societies, use campus radios for community awareness, and promote academic exchange between the students from newly merged district and rest of the country. The Vice Chancellors from various universities shared their experiences, and successful strategies implemented in their respective institutes.

Four working groups were formed, each representing major stakeholders, including government, civil society and media, university administration and faculty, and students. These groups came together in a collaborative role-play exercise, proposing recommendations that focused on fostering inclusivity and tolerance on university campuses.

In the concluding session, a robust follow-up and implementation mechanism were proposed. A working group of experts was suggested for effective follow-up on the implementation of recommendations of the conference and to formulate policies and procedures for countering violence and extremism. Moreover, the same group would organize capacity-building workshops to train university administration and faculty. As part of this initiative, a course on Social and Religious Tolerance will be introduced at university campuses, dedicated to promoting an environment of acceptance and understanding.

Speaking on the occasion as guest of honour, Chief Economist of the Planning and Development Department, KPK, Mr Ali Asghar, expressed the Department’s commitment to supporting the innovative ideas of university students. He highlighted the importance of empowering the youth to contribute to Pakistan’s development by providing financial support for their initiatives.

Syed Ali Musa Gilani, President of the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) National Assembly of Pakistan was the chief guest on the occasion. He appreciated the efforts of the conference participants in designing a comprehensive roadmap and set of recommendations to promote peace and tolerance on university campuses. He assured unwavering support to help implement the roadmap and set of recommendations generated through this conference. Ms Jannat Durrani Deputy Chief of Party UN-IOM CRA North extended a vote of thanks to the participants and partner organizations for making this important activity a successful and productive one.

Earlier Ms Mio Sato, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Pakistan, expressed her gratitude to all the Vice Chancellors, speakers, and attendees for their active participation and invaluable contributions to the conference. She stated, “It is our shared responsibility to ensure that these young minds are prepared to embrace the qualities of empathy, respect, and open-mindedness. We want to support our partners in their effort to cement Universities as beacons of inclusion, understanding, acceptance, and learning; so that we can inspire critical thinking, broaden horizons, and bridge divisions.”

The conference served as a platform for academic leaders to exchange insights on fostering inclusive and harmonious campus environments, emphasizing open intercultural dialogue and mutual respect among students and faculty from diverse backgrounds.

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