Peace Conference makes Pakistani News

The upcoming Peace Conference has made the news in Pakistani media.

Peace Conference on Geo News (Urdu)

Peace Conference on Daily Jang

Peace Conference on Geo News (English)

DALLAS: Prominent scholars, diplomats and activists will be coming to the Middle East Peace Conference at the University of North Texas (UNT), “The Middle East: A New Era?”.

The two-day conference on March 22-23 will focus on the economic, political, social and education transformations in Middle Eastern nations after the Arab Spring.

Jonathan A.C. Brown, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, will speak on “The Middle East in Transition: What’s Next?” as Keynote Speaker on March 23.

Joe W. “Chip” Pitts III, a law professor at Stanford University and Meir Shlomo, Consul General of Israel in Houston will be the two Distinguished Speakers on the first day of the conference.

Pitts will discuss “Human Rights in the Middle East in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring.” In addition to teaching at Stanford Law School, he is a former chairman of Amnesty International USA and a former board president of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a national nonprofit organization with a mission of defending the rule of law and rights and liberties challenged by national security and counter-terrorism polices.

Shlomo will discuss “The Middle East Road Map.” With more than 29 years of experience in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs he worked on several diplomatic assignments around the world as head of mission at the Consulate General of Israel to New England in Boston for four years in addition to his postings in other countries.

 

Conference to Focus on Peace Efforts

Peace Conf Logo

Ben Payton – Staff Writer North Texas Daily, March, 20 2013.
Continuing from a 2011 peace conference on South Asia, UNT will have guest lecturers that include the Consul General of Israel during the Middle East Peace Conference, “The Middle East: A New Era?” from March 22 to 23 at the Gateway Conference Center.

The Conference will focus on student participation and the opportunity for researchers and community organizations to share their fields of study with one another on the Middle East after the uprising of the Arab Spring, said Qaisar Abbas, assistant dean of research and grant developments and conference chairman.

The conference also will feature an art show, a keynote luncheon and dinner and 16 scholarly sessions.

“This conference will have some people who were involved in the Arab Spring and the uprisings in Egypt and different places who will talk directly about their experiences with that,” said Mary Beth Butler, Director of Communications of UNT-International.

Some of the guest speakers include Stanford Law School Professor and former Chairman of Amnesty International, Joe W. “Chip” Pitts III as well as Ambassador and Consul General of Israel to the Southwest Meir Shlomo.

Both guests will speak of contemporary peace issues in the region. “I think it’s very important to have it, especially with what’s going on in the Middle East these days,” Abbas said.

Community partners, such as the Dallas Peace Center and Texas Women’s University, are also participating with an estimated 15 to 20 booths being set up for the public to visit, Abbas said.

Out of a student enrollment of nearly 36,000 students, UNT has close to 500 students from 19 countries in the Middle East region and a number of faculty members with experience in and research with Middle East issues, according to a UNT International press release.

“It’s becoming more important to provide a platform to diplomats, political leaders, and activists to come up and discuss these issues and conflicts they have,” Abbas said.

A number of departments also came together during the 18-month planning process for the peace conference such as UNT international studies and the primary supporter, The Castleberry Peace Institute which is housed in the department of Political Science and lead by Director and Peace Conference Committee member David Mason.

Abbas said the UNT administration has shown its support for the peace conferences and he hopes to have one once a year and vary the location of the topic each time.

“It’s kind of niche for UNT to have a peace conference every year or every two years,” he said. “I think peace is becoming very significant, not only in the Middle East.”

The contents of the conference will eventually be gathered into a book with the 2011 peace conference, which is expected to be released this year.

For additional information and a schedule of events visit international.unt.edu/unt-peace-conference. Below is a video from last year’s conference.

Qaisar Abbas interviewed by UNT

The University of North Texas posted an interview with Dr. Abbas in recognition of his work at 2011’s South Asian Peace Conference at UNT and for the upcoming UNT Peace Conference on March 22-23 at UNT’s Gateway Center.

Portrait Gallery: Qaisar Abbas, assistant dean for research and grant development

QA pic 015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qaisar Abbasassistant dean for research and grant development in the Division of Student Affairs, brought diplomats from Pakistan and Afghanistan to UNT in 2011 for an international peace conference. This year’s conference brings another group of international scholars to the university.

  • Learn more about the 2013 conference, which features keynote speakers Meir Shlomo, consul general of Israel to the Southwest, and Joe W. Pitts III, lecturer at Stanford University School of Law.
  • Register online.

You worked in television in Pakistan. What brought you to the United States?

I worked for Pakistan TV as news producer. There I worked on reporting assignments and produced talk shows and documentaries. Prior to that I was Information Officer attached to the Minister of Education in the province of Punjab after completing my masters in journalism from University of the Punjab, Lahore.

In those days, TV and radio were state-owned media in Pakistan. Although entertainment programs were free, our News Division was the target of strict government control which I did not like. I was extremely frustrated by the unwritten censorship imposed on my reports. That was one reason why I left TV and came to the United States for further education.

Initially I came to the United States for a master’s degree which I did from Iowa State University. But then one of my professors advised me to apply for doctoral programs and that’s how I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my doctorate in mass communication. I completed my doctoral degree with a specialty in international communication. Since then I have been teaching and working as administrator for several universities and colleges in the United States.

How has Pakistan changed since you were there?

When I was growing up in Pakistan it was a very peaceful society, as most Pakistanis are moderate and peace loving people. The society has increasingly become intolerant mostly as a result of political changes in neighboring Afghanistan.

Whenever I go back to see my family and friends in Pakistan, I feel a kind of reverse culture shock. It looks like altogether a new society to me which I am not entirely familiar with. I guess, after living half of your life in one culture and half in another, you lose your cultural identify and become bicultural. I am still connected with my culture intellectually and regularly write on political and sociocultural issues, but sadly, I somehow feel alienated from my own cultural norms.

What prompted you to plan a conference and bring diplomats and researchers to UNT?

Peace and communal harmony is my passion. South Asia, with two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, has become a highly vulnerable region with all kinds of intra- and interstate conflicts. This also is a region with lots of potential which is being wasted with the ongoing and unnecessary arms race between India and Pakistan.

In 2011, I discussed the idea of organizing a peace conference focused on South Asia with a team of professors at UNT who whole heartedly supported it. With internal funding from several departments and institutes, we were able to offer this successful conference in November 2011 with a limited budget.

A book manuscript, The Paradox of Peace and Conflict in South Asia, based on the 2011 conference papers, is also being reviewed by the Oxford University Press and we hope it will be published this year.

Realizing that peace is the most significant need of the day, UNT, after this successful experience, has decided to hold peace conferences on a regular basis on different themes and regions.

UNT-International has now branded it as the UNT Peace Conference and this year we are offering another conference on the Middle East on March 22- 23. Speakers from the region and scholars in Middle East studies will be coming to campus to discuss peace and harmony in North Africa, Arab countries, Iran and Turkey, through 16 sessions on different topics. A cultural show, an art exhibit and a book display also will be part of the conference.

You are a published poet, both in English and Urdu. How did you become interested in poetry?

Poetry is a popular literary form in my culture and I have been writing poetry since my college days in my native language of Urdu. I published an anthology of my poems in 2008 entitled Keep Holding the Sun. Poetry is a mode of catharsis for my sensitivities to what’s going on in my outer world. Through it I express myself on my surroundings and make sense of my political, social and cultural environment.

Do you have a favorite Pakistani restaurant in North Texas?

With a large South Asian community, there are over 70 Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Nepali restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and some of them have quality food.

What do you do when away from the university?

We are a UNT family in a true sense. My wife Saleha Suleman works for UNT-International as assistant vice provost for international affairs, and my twin boys, Shahryar Ali and Shahrzad Ali, recently completed their master’s degrees from UNT.

I like to read new books on literature, media and politics, I love to watch art movies and listen to music. I also try to walk for about one mile every day, mostly in summer.

 

Middle East Peace Conference at UNT March 22-23rd

A series of street demonstrations began in the North African country of Tunisia in 2010, against unemployment, food inflation, corruption from government officials, poor living conditions and curbs on freedom of speech and human rights. A month later, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted after 23 years in power, and youth movements widely spread to Bahrain, Egypt,Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen in what would be called the Arab Spring.

University of North Texas (UNT) in the US is discussing impacts of youth movements and the future of Middle East in an international conference on March 22-23 on its campus. Prominent scholars, diplomats and activists will be coming to the UNT Peace Conference, “The Middle East: A New Era?” to discuss contemporary issues in the region. The two-day conference will focus on the economic, political, social and education transformations in Middle Eastern nations after the Arab Spring.

Jonathan A.C. Brown, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian
Understanding at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, will speak on “The
Middle East in Transition: What’s Next?” as Keynote Speaker on March 23.

Joe W. “Chip” Pitts III, a law professor at Stanford University andMeir Shlomo, Consul General of Israel in Houston will be the two Distinguished Speakers on the first day of the conference.

Pitts will discuss “Human Rights in the Middle East in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring.” In
addition to teaching at Stanford Law School, he is a former chairman of Amnesty International USA and a former board president of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a national nonprofit organization with a mission of defending the rule of law and rights and liberties challenged by national security and counter-terrorism polices.

Shlomo will discuss “The Middle East Road Map.” With more than 29 years of experience in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs he worked on several diplomatic assignments around the world as head of mission at the Consulate General of Israel to New England in Boston for four years in addition to his postings in other countries.

Dr. Qaisar Abbas, Conference Chair and Assistant Dean at UNT, said after the award winning South Asia Peace Conference in 2011, we are now focusing on another strategically significant region this year.

“Middle East is one of the most strategically located regions in the world, with religious,
political and economic challenges and opportunities. Because whatever goes on here is felt everywhere else in the world, it is highly important to engage diplomats, leaders and scholars in a dialogue for peace and harmony in this region” he said.

The Conference will offer 16 research panels, research papers and panel discussions on regime transitions, women’s rights, human rights and social justice for Palestinians, Palestinian-Israeli peace prospects, and collaborative arts among nations in conflict, among other topics.

Panels will also focus on the ongoing movements in Syria and Egypt, drone attacks in Muslim countries, poetic resistance and youth, and conflicts and peace efforts in North Africa, Iran and Turkey.

Other activities will include cultural events, including an art exhibit and “Celebrating Peace:
Middle Eastern Music and Dance,” a showcase of the talents of UNT’s international students. Two simultaneous book displays on the Middle East will be featured on campus in conjunction with the Conference.The conference is being sponsored by the University of North Texas departments including

the Office of Provost, UNT-International, the Castleberry Peace Institute, Student Affairs,
and the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute. Community partners of
the Conference include Dallas Peace Center, Texas Woman’s University, Fun Asia Radio and Muslim Community Center for Human Services.

A complete conference schedule is posted on the website: international.unt.edu/untpc.
Registration is available online through March 20 and is free for the conference research
presentations and panel discussions and most other activities. The keynote dinner and luncheon on March 22 and 23 will require fees of $20 each.