The youth factor in Pakistan

Pakistan is reputed to be the country of youth and could well be said that it is a young country. The presence of youth is what makes Pakistan an exceptionally viable venue for change.

Youth actually represents change because the traditions filter through young minds and often their essential attributes are altered. The change of perception enables the sociological matrix to adapt to the altered variables and usher in a modulated perspective about everything a society stands for.

It is estimated that almost 63% of Pakistani population comprises of youth out of which 58.5 million are 20-to-24-yearolds while 69 million are aged under 15.

The trouble with the youth bulge of Pakistan is that it is the most stressed-out segment of the population of Pakistan.

Though Pakistan is rated as the fifth largest country having a young population but its citizens between the ages of 18 to 33 years are under tremendous socio-economic strain.

There is no denying the fact that if the millennials of youth are exposed to stress it will be very harmful for the future of the country. In addition, there are around 30% youth that is illiterate whereas almost 9% suffers from unemployment as it possesses no vocational training and technical skills.

It is estimated that 55 per cent of the youth live in Punjab, 23 per cent in Sindh, 14 per cent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and four per cent in Balochistan. The remaining four per cent inhabit Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and FATA.

Despite negativity surrounding all over, the youth of Pakistan has not given up and they are boldly expressing their aspirations. They have taken full advantage of the technological advancements that have trickled into Pakistan and are making their best use.

Well over one-half of the youth possess mobile telephones and though only 14 per cent have access to the internet, they are able to connect to the world by using the social media. The intense activity on social media is indicative of the urge of Pakistani young men and women to be heard in the Pakistani mainstream.

The youth is already impacting the political process of Pakistan with all major political groupings trying to woo them to their side. Their rising presence in political rallies point out to their political awareness and this faculty considerably changed political fortunes in 2018 general elections with the youth decisively favoured a new political party to come to power.

Out of a voter count of between 135 and 140 million eligible to vote in the forthcoming elections, it is expected that voters between the ages of 18 to 30 years will constitute almost 50 million or 35% of the total voters.

The involvement of Pakistani youth in national affairs is such that an estimated 90% male and 55% female young voters will vote in elections.

The UN Development Programme prescribes three expectations for youth and that also hold true for Pakistani youth. They expect quality education, gainful employment and meaningful engagement.

Any governance set up can no longer neglect the expectations of young people of Pakistan and it has become mandatory to accord them due priority.

Education has been a major drawback for the youth of Pakistan that has kept them behind in all spheres of activity. Pakistan’s experience of imparting education through state-led apparatus has not been successful and resultantly private enterprise has come into it. It is expected that private sector will keep on catering for providing quality education to Pakistani youth.

Pakistani youth has shown a marked tendency for acquiring education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Unfortunately, the youth has not shown any interest in making careers in agriculture, retail commerce, transport and construction as these fields are considered rather backward forms of gaining employment.

The lure of making prosperous careers in relatively modern sectors of the economy
matters more.

It is noted that the youth is quite interested in the employment opportunities inherent in CPEC as it is full of modern technological skills particularly computerised operations.

The range of CPEC is vast and will enable youth inhabiting both urban and rural areas to take advantage of it. The Chinese assistance in this respect will be indeed fruitful as they have acquired an expertise in generating employment in modern sectors and they are already bringing these skills to Pakistan.

The Pakistani youth desperately expects to be recognised as a part of the governance matrix. It expects that it will be given a deserving role to play in the affairs of the state. They expect political inclusiveness and would be greatly disappointed if they are denied that.

It is a foregone conclusion that it will be the youth of Pakistan that will be in control of the destiny of the country and if it is not encouraged to participate in national affairs then it will not only be frustrated but will also become prone to agitation.


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