Being Youngest State Guest at Baku Forum

Monday, November 11th, 2013 10:26:42 by

From 31st October to 1st November 2013, 794 participants including 7 former Presidents, 13 Nobel Prize laureates, 7 Emeritus Professors, 107 world-famous public and prominent political figures were gathered together at one venue for the 3rd Baku International Humanitarian Forum. Fortunately, I was selected as participant of the conference this year, and fate worked out for me making me the youngest state guest amongst all the experienced pool of professionals from every field.

Certainly it’s worth sharing what the conference is about? How it went? How were we treated as State Guest? What was the outcome? Why it’s important to organize such events along with mentioning some observations and analysis of differences and similarities between Azerbaijan and Pakistan that I have figured out.

Introducing Baku International Humanitarian Forum, What it’s about? The Forum is an annual event that brings together famous representatives from political, scientific and cultural elite of the world community with an aim to hold dialogues, discussions and exchange views on wider range of topics of global concern in order to serve the interests of humanity.

The forum was founded in 2010 by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and his colleague the President of Russian Federation Dmitriy Medvedev. The Forum is effectively working on its goal of building a dialogue through round tables providing every single person a chance to be listened and heard in the arenas they belong to. It is also accomplishing its task of formation of ground for constructive debates and discussions and for the exchange of ideas, theoretical and practical knowledge.

3rd Baku International Humanitarian Forum 2013: Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan opened the forum with a comprehensive speech touching every aspect of national and international topic of global concern. Messages of greetings of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon to the Forum participants were read out. A video address by Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova was featured. Other speakers on the first day included ISESCO Director General Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, 9th President of Turkey Suleyman Demirel, former Presidents of Baltic states, 13 Nobel Prize laureates and presentation by Chairmen of the roundtables.

On the second day, the forum featured roundtable meetings on multiple diverse topics that includes Converging Technologies and Outlines of the Future: Landmark Challenges of the 21st Century; Humanitarian Aspects of Economic Development; Scientific Innovations and their Transfer into Education; Multiculturalism and Originality: in Search of Value Consensus in Society; National Identity in the Postmodern Era; Sustainable Development and Ecological Civilization; Achievements in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: from Theory to Practice and The Topical Issues of Mass Media in the Globalizing Information Network.

I was one of the speakers in the third panel of the roundtable discussing the topical issues of mass media, in which I gave a presentation on the topic ‘Don’t let the media fool us: Analyzing Trends to Understand the Confusion’. The forum closed with vote of consent of the delegates accepting the final declaration of the Forum for practical implementation.
For the next two days, excursion tours to five of the regions of Azerbaijan i.e. Nakhchivan, Gabala, Ganja, Lankaran and Guba were arranged, during which the delegates were taken to historical sites and museums, state universities, theatres, Sarayis, mosques, shrines, temples and place of pilgrimage i.e. Ashab-e-Kahf in order to get them acquainted with Azeri culture, history and traditions.

Sharing the experience of being a State Guest: For the 6 days, we were hosted as the Guests of the President of Azerbaijan. The hospitality of the Organizing Committee, Azeri people, and officials from state departments, media, universities and multiple organizations stays unmatched. The management, organization and arrangement of such a huge event are undoubtedly a tiresome task but each one of us was attended with equal respect and care.

Why such events are important? Before being part of such event, I used to think why states spend huge money on such events; rather they should use it for some constructive purpose. But after attending the forum I’ve realized that it’s not something as spending without thinking, instead it can be called as a step of being smart on diplomacy. Calling on prominent figures from every professional field and from around the world that are being followed as ideals by majority not only in their home country but globally too is but an investment for better future. In a globally connected world, when these figures share their experiences of being at the conference and being introduced to Azeri culture; what impact does it leave?

Firstly, many come to know about Azerbaijan which otherwise they would not have known consequently making Azerbaijan stand prominent among other countries situated in the same region. Secondly, on one platform prominent professional figures from multiple sectors of Azerbaijan also hold meetings with their counterparts and on the sidelines of Conference many MOUs are signed, in addition prominent students get to meet their professional epitomes which not only motivates them but they also get informed about new innovations in their respective areas that on else would have cost much if talking about individual visits of all of them individually to other states around the world. Subsequently, it leads to more political, diplomatic, academic, economic, cultural exchanges and more interaction of Azeri nation with other parts of the world and with much respect to return same cordiality as received.

Analyzing Similarities and Differences between Azerbaijan and Pakistan: Though only one article will not suffice to mention similarities and differences between these two countries but broadly I’ll try to mention. Talking about the similarities first, people of both the nations are hospitable; many dishes in the cuisine are similar, lifestyle of families is simple, the landscapes and weather is somewhat same, the traffic jam in Baku was same as we have in Karachi, and our airlines performance is on same scale.

Talking about differences, the foremost is the trust and respect Azeri people owe to their Government unlike us. Though they have hereditary rulers but their vision has guided their nation towards progress. Secondly, there is no differentiation between civilian and army sectors, they are situated together and cleanliness is ensured at its best. Third is the level of development, in just 22 years after independence, they have made commendable progress. As President Aliyev mentioned that the poverty level has been brought down from 55% to 5.5%. Impressively, Baku has turned into city of lights, using technology at its best to illuminate many of the buildings. Fourth is the importance given to the attainment of education, for example only in the city of Nakhchivan with a population of 75,000 there are 32 universities plus colleges. Fifth is the difference in worth of currencies, Azeri manats holds much more worth and one manat equals one euro. Sixth is the attachment of Azeri people with their past history, the way they have preserved it in every region is praiseworthy. Seventh, is the connection with the outer world, 70% of Azeri population are internet users and students are given special training on how to use social media in an effective way to gain benefits.

There is much more which can be mentioned about experience gained at the conference, but summing it up I want to mention that wearing my flag everywhere there was a source of pride for me, majority including President Aliyev and the first lady noticed and commended it; which makes me see it as my mission accomplished. Moreover, those who asked me about which courses we are taught lauded that we have better course composition.

Everyone whom I met greeted me with much respect on being the youngest participant at the Forum and on representing a softer image of Pakistan and Muslim women. I ensured them all that we have a huge resource of talented individuals, just need to utilize them in a better way. I wish to see my state at a higher place in near future and of getting a reciprocal chance to become host and making them our state guest sometime soon.

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