“I am that generation who is perhaps witnessing a trans-cultural evolution of technology shifting global political dynamics”, was the revelation that occurred to me while sitting in a huge tightly packed hall, filled with eager curiosity to learn more from panelists. Audience of “Global Peace Summit” on June 15, 2016 couldn’t be any more diverse, as I had a global financial investor on chair next to me and an international non-profit expert sitting right opposite with people representing half a dozen different sectors alone at my table. As it happens in this age of speed and rapidity of information, media, and smart phones, more than aware audience of any global summits are there not to seek new information but to put together puzzle pieces so it may make more sense to what they know or verify what they already know or add a fresher perspective to what they may have learned from mainstream media.
In today’s time, when we, residents of global village are pulled back to still intact reality of sovereignty of states by a queue in a visa office, when global connectivity and accessibility make us believe that we know all cultures, all laws, all challenges across latitudes and longitudes of earth and only possible barrier between us and sea of information appears to be “English Illiteracy” and when intelligent eyes of millennials make us wonder about fifth dimension of reality, yet we are far away from peace and serenity. Boundaries of countries may seem blurred but humans are being confined more and more in factions. New century has brought new and interesting labels without any standard definitions or thesaurus, for example let alone for the follower of the same religion there are categories of believer, practitioner, extremist, radical, fundamental, liberal and conservatives to fall in with or without consent, yet anaconda of terrorism is beyond control. This furious anaconda of terrorism does not only adapt rapid molting in socio-political microclimates but, at times, masquerades itself as a victim puzzling smartest of experts on this modern hybrid reptile. In such challenging times governments seem determined to be the first to decipher mantra of eternal global peace and to beat the others to the draw.
Partnerships and technology are perhaps preamble of rituals necessary to defeat Loa of terrorism and death. Peace advocates today strongly believe that strategic partnerships and financial investments along with meaningful and controlled use of technology can help us overcome many challenges. Even at this particular summit where some peace advocates spoke about using bilateral relationships to overcome predisposed ethnic and cultural bias, others talked about creating strong synergies between corporates and civil societies to promote social enterprises under patronage of governments. A very powerful example of virtual student exchange program was discussed where students from Afghanistan were able to interact with students in United States due to internet based technology and were able to learn about culture, music, arts and challenges over the year.
In this summit, forum on “Innovating for Peace” was especially unique for combining Michelle Bresslauer, Director, America’s Program, Institute for Economics and Peace, Thomas Debass, Deputy Special Representative for Global Partnerships, US Department of State, Shannon Green, Director and Senior Fellow, Human Rights Initiative, CSIS, Christopher Schroeder, Author, Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East and Frances Holuba, Director of Social Enterprise, POLITICO. This panel offered unique inter-dialogue among the individuals bringing US perspective on global partnerships, global human rights lens, mind of a social enterprise and insights of Middle East revolution. It was interesting to note that understanding technology, using it appropriately and putting up technological guards for safety and surveillance did not only dominate most of the ideas but presented itself even as subtext when references to various coalitions were made to promote global peace.
It was the moment when I realized that I am actually part of a generation who has witnessed huge desktops transforming into apple watch and air-light laptops, dial up internet to 4G, landlines into smartphones and expansive international audio only calls to free facetime and viber in period of last 15 years. And I am also a generation who witnessed heroic story telling of WWII and “never war again” sentiments melt into global war on terrorism, race for nuclear power and ocean of refugees. I am the generation which read diaries of Anne Frank by waiting for delivery over a week and then story of 11 years old Syrian boy dead in middle of ocean by scrolling down with my thumb. And I felt empowered and powerless at the same time; empowered that I know so much and powerless that demons that I face are as much powerful.
I am also a Pakistani, from that part of world where words like social enterprise, public-private partnership and strategic economic ties to eradicate terrorism have non-existent to very complex meanings. It was no surprise when I found out that my country is lowest on a Global Peace Index launched on the same day, a high price paid for its complex affinity with Middle East and ideology of global Muslim brotherhood. Nonetheless it makes me wonder, does peace talk mean “understanding among, of and for people who know meaning of emerging global trends and new world order dictionary to lead people who can’t understand even fraction of it” or does it mean “people who know talking to people who don’t know to understand challenge they face today”? Whatever the answer is, none is either right or wrong or an easier way out than other.
I believe landing on mantra of creating partnerships and using technology may be a spot-on but what will affect success of coalitions for peace is not mantra itself but international policies and sentiments that will govern it. Governments need to understand that it is time not only to align their foreign policies with sovereign interests but also with interest of corporates and technology leaders which are much global, wider, powerful and at times neutral actors on international stage as compare to any government worldwide. Challenge of terrorism we face today cannot be dealt with power led strategy; Hercules is long gone. It is a challenge that can be conquered by combining minds and experts. It is time to believe that people outside of bureaucracy, armies, public office and flagged cars have a major and may be decisive role to play. It is time of innovative strategy to promote peace and execute inclusive leadership to drop the penny. Advocacy and such global platforms to exchange ideas are tools to re think every way that we believed is a best way for so long and so hard.