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Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday addressed at a seminar on the role of youth in fighting terrorism and extremism organised by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

On the occasion the army chief spoke at length about the country’s recent gains against militant groups, impending challenges as well as the way forward.

“Pakistan is a young nation, both in history and demographically. Demographically, over 50 per cent of our population is projected to be less than 25 years of age. The future of our country literally lies with the direction that our youth take over the next few years,” he explained.

“We are standing at a crossroads; ten years down the line, we will either be enjoying the fruits of a youth dividend or suffering at the hands of a youth bulge, especially with the youth which remains vulnerable to extremism.”

“Extremism is a relative term. It is relative to our perception of what is normal. Therefore, we will only have a clear concept of extremism if we have a clear concept of our own identity and values.”

“A youth driven towards extremism is a youth without a clear idea of its values and identity,” the army chief argued.

He maintained that most important stimulus driving a young adult, was to find purpose and meaning in life.

“It is during this stage that one is ready to commit to professions, to relationships, to causes and to ideologies. It is a wonderful stage in life; but it is also the most vulnerable.”

“Extremism is also related to the environment and the time we live in. From that perspective, we must admit that Pakistani youth is being exploited due to poor governance and lack of justice in society,” the army chief added.

Talking about the Pakistani gains against terrorism, Gen Qamar said as a nation, Pakistan had fought the menace of terrorism most valiantly, giving unparalleled sacrifices.

“Our armed forces have set an example for the whole world in cleansing these barbarians from their potholes. Our success is acknowledged the world over,” he added.

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