By Zafar Iqbal
Child rights activists and chairman Milky Way Youth Movement, Mr. Shah Zaman is awarded with N-Peace Award in Thailand, Bangkok. This Award is an initiative of United Nations through UNDP to bring into light the stories of courageous individuals seeking to create peace in their communities. Zaman was nominated in May 2014 along with more than 100 peace activists from 6 countries of Asia-Pacific Region and won the award in the category of “young men and women generating peace” in July 2014. He is the first and youngest Pakistani to have the honor and shared his award with another brave activist Wai Wai from Myanmar, who spent 7 years in jail for working actively on human rights. He dedicated his award to two martyred child rights activists of Pakistan; Iqbal Masih and Aitezaz Hussan, and hundreds of Milky Way activists and scholars across Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral regions. He said that he is very inspired of Iqbal Masih and Aitezaz Hussan and consider them activists in the real sense who sacrificed their lives to create a better tomorrow for their fellow human beings. In his short speech he thanked all the people who encouraged him at difficult times and helped him take up the cause of Milky Way. He considered his meeting with another social worker and chairperson of Hashoo Foundation, Sarah Haswani as the turning point of his life and said that “she is my inspiration for serving humanity” he further added that he will continue to serve the people of Gilgit Baltistan with his fellow youth and make it a place for the world to see. He told the audience he and his team will make Gilgit Baltistan a hub of peace so that they could come and see the wonders of nature that it offers to them only in GB.
Zaman belongs to Yasin Valley, village Thoi Kunnow in district Ghizer of Gilgit Baltistan. H is given this award for his activism of 5 years for the promotion of education, for children across GB and Chitral. Zaman is a Beaconite , a Rootsian and is now currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Sociology at Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. He is also the regional Ambassador of International Girls Rising Movement for Gilgit Baltistan and has recently represented Pakistan in Indonesia, Bali in a Youth Training and Global Media Forum Organized by UNESCO.
He founded “Milky Way” a youth led education movement in 2010 and since then working actively for promoting education. Currently Milky Way is supporting over 100 students including 61 students in all the 6 AKESP driven Agha Khan Higher Secondary School system across GBC and 4 students in Gilgit College of Commerce and Economics (GCCE). Zaman has also opened an academy in his home back in Yasin valley which is nurturing around 50 future leaders of his village. Apart from supporting students Milky Way also run advocacy campaigns through its network of university ambassadors in above 40 universities of Pakistan which include carrier counseling, motivational talks and resolving key issues of the region’s youth.
Milky Way in order to promote civic engagement among the youth raised the slogan of “today’s youth for tomorrow’s youth” and is preparing a new generation of youth in GBC by promoting education along with the sense of civic engagement. More than 60 scholars of Milky Way carry out social project “I love and serve my village” twice a year in their summer and winter college vacations. They try to advocate and take practical steps to bring solutions to the burning issues of their villages.
Milky Way is voluntarily run by more than 50 youth of GBC and is a unique example of youth activism for their communities in the world through advocacy and taking practical steps.