By: Prof. Abdul Shakoor Shah
“Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students who have always been at the forefront in the hour of trial and need. You are the nation’s leaders of tomorrow and you must fully equip yourself by discipline, education and training for the arduous task lying ahead of you. You should realize the magnitude of your responsibility and be ready to bear it.” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Youth between ages 15-24 exceed 1.1 billion comprising 18% of global population and together with the one below age 24 amounts to 40%.
Approximately 133 million youth remain illiterate and 41% are unemployed worldwide. Roughly, 238 million youth live on less than 1 US dollar and 7000 young people get infected daily.
Almost 54 % of South Asian youth leave school without the necessary skills to get a decent job. South Asia with half of its population of 1.8 billion is below the age of 24.
South Asia will have the largest youth labour force in the world until 2040. The region has greater prospects of economic development if it succeeds in harnessing the potential of youths.
The core reasons for unemployment in Asian youths include lack of experience 26% insufficient support services 23% and illegal practices 44% even after their graduation.
In 2018 elections in Pakistan, 27% of electoral was youth aging between 26-35 and 20% between ages 18-25.
More than 60% of Pakistanis are youths and they have the potential to bring prosperity and good governance. But their voice is unheard and unrepresented in the political system.
Currently Pakistan has the largest number of youths ever in history. Two thirds of our population is under 30 and the children under 15 who are going to be leaders of tomorrow. Our youth has the potential of molding national destiny by participating in political and economic dynamics. Annually, 4 million youth step into the working age.
We are in dire need of creating 1.3 million new jobs annually. Youth and Politics are sparking affairs that should be catered with care and planning. Just integration of youth in politics is the only sure way to success.
Our political system is pushing the youth out of mainstream politics and we do not have any institutions for political training of the youth. Politics should be introduced as a subject after middle school level.
We must focus on strategic planning about Student Unions. Age factor for parliamentarians and national politics should be revised. E-Democracy should be introduced. Youth institutes should be constituted like youth Parliament and Youth Senate. Youth must be given parliamentarian quota as per their population ratio.
The Ministry for youth affairs should be empowered. We must ponder seriously over the workshops and seminars regarding youth training to promote political culture. Youth must be given inter-provincial and international exposure. Youths should be encouraged to represent the parties and national affairs in Talk-Shows to get rid of monotonous faces. The young blood should fight and come on the top to revolutionize the existence of a fraudulent realm of political affairs in Pakistan.
There is great discrimination against youth in every field in the country. The ruling elites have imposed their imperialistic political colonialism on the youth. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer day by day. The youth of middle or lower middle classes are facing indescribable problems when they try to come upward on the ladder of stratification in the society.
These youths face severe difficulties when they want to join mainstream politics. The hereditary, capital and feudalistic politics has no room for a middle class youth. The system is designed only for elitists who rule from cradle to grave by narrowing down the paths for the youths of the middle and lower middle class.
The government and private sector should ensure sponsorships for the rising middle class leaders. Fair and just intera party elections should be ensured and monitored by Election Commission of Pakistan. The Political parties must be made bound to reserve seats for middle and lower middle class youth.
No party should ever be registered on individual names. The political parties must revise their party manifestos. Local Body Elections should be ensured so that youth can grow themselves. Meetings of political parties should be open to the public so that masses come to know what is happening and in this way the youth will get a chance to learn and improve. Proceedings of the National Assembly should be open to the public with ease. Youth must be provided a chance to get interacted with MNAs and MPAs.
Media should regulate more productive shows for youth for political maturity. Government and political parties must mutually organize rural political awareness workshops and training for youth and masses. The government and political parties must establish political training units in all the areas for clear political insight. The politics of money, influence and rest of corrupt practices should be constitutionally hammered. Election tickets should not be given on money, influence and hereditary bases. The party and state should ensure funds for the youths that do not cater an elite background.
Our youths have been used as political instruments by our politicians. They use them for their vested interests. The youth policies have never been drafted in favor of youth. Our educational institutions must prescribe a day in a week as “Politicians for a Day.” We are not educating our future generation politically and we are lamenting and mourning over the political system. We are just crying for improvement without taking any initiative.
The policies, decisions and constitutional amendments for youth are made by aged politicians which is utterly illogical. Our youths are directionless, perturbed and confused. If they get inspiration from seasoned politicians, they have failed to put the country on track. All the political parties have youth in their manifestos, youth political wings but they don’t have youth as per their population ratio on party designations, Assembly and Senate. It is undemocratic democracy or democratic dictatorship.
The writer is a professor in English and freelance columnist, based in Lahore, Pakistan