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12 reasons why the Pakistani youth desperately needs real change

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By: Wasay Ibrahim

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For a population as ‘traditional’ as that of Pakistan, it is quite a young country. Currently, 52.5 percent of the population is 24 years old or younger. Strangely enough, despite constituting the majority of the population – we young Pakistanis rarely have things our way. This can be a very frustrating country for a young person, and here’s why!

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You’re not considered a mature person until you’re married

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It won’t matter if you’ve ended world hunger or cured cancer – in this country, you are not considered a mature, capable adult until you’re married. Older people, who are often in positions of authority like to assume that everyone on the face of the planet wants to get married in their early 20’s. If you don’t do this, you are treated like a child until you do tie the knot with someone.

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Sexism

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From the social media uproar over something as mundane as Mahira Khan smoking a cigarette to the vicious Twitter comments criticizing Malala Yousafzai for wearing jeans in Oxford University, Pakistanis expose the level of animus that they have against women quite regularly. But you don’t need to go on the internet to see this nation’s misogyny on display. It can be seen first-hand in public spaces by the lack of women in them, as well as the regular reports of honour killings in the headlines.

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Ridiculous rules in institutes of higher education

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Call me crazy, but I thought colleges and universities were supposed to be places where young adults could go to gain exposure to new ideas, different perspectives and practice a degree of freedom that readies them for practical life. Many educational institutions in this country, however, are bent on regimenting their students’ lives as if they were still in primary school. Dress codes and rules about interactions between genders should have no role in university life, because university students are not children. Sadly, in Pakistani universities they are all too common.

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Nobody cares about the environment

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Switch on the news in this country and what do you see? Politics, terrorism, crime… maybe even a thing or two about the economy. What you never see is our news anchors telling you about how vulnerable this country is to climate change, and how polluted our atmosphere is. In 2016, Pakistan was ranked the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change in the world. Apart from this, we also have a serious air pollution problem in our big cities. You want young people to take more interest in current affairs? Stop covering Imran Khan’s latest diatribe against Nawaz Sharif, and talk about the environment.

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Driving has become an ordeal

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If you just turned 18 and are excited to get a driving license, trust me, you shouldn’t be. Driving in any one of this country’s big cities has now become a harrowing experience. Our roads are not built to cater to cities as densely packed as ours, and the result is total chaos. The experience is made worse by traffic being stopped for VIP motorcades, the many undisciplined drivers plaguing this country and speed breakers that try to launch you into space.

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Employment

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Unemployment in Pakistan is one of the gravest problems facing people in this country, and it affects young people the most. The high rates of joblessness in this country are made more dangerous economically and socially by the fact that we have so many young people in this country, and it is predicted that our median age will only become younger in the years to come. Arguably we’re sitting on a powder keg, and such potential for outpourings of anger never ends well.

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Our enmity with India is ridiculous

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Can anyone tell me how it will help Kashmiris if India and Pakistan destroy each other with nuclear weapons? Because if I remember correctly, that’s why we got into this mess in the first place. The conflict between these two countries has only made it harder for the Subcontinent to bring itself out of poverty – which in turn has kept or societies regressive and backward. It’s time the political and military leadership on both sides did the right thing and took solid measures to improve relations.

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Our education system is too regressive

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Getting an education should be about developing critical thinking skills, grasping and applying technical concepts and learning how to solve problems. While examinations may be a valuable educational tool, the entire system shouldn’t be about training students to pass exams. This country already suffers from a low literacy rate – the few private and public schools that we have should do what they can to provide quality education, instead of focusing on rote learning.

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Religious repression is tearing our society apart

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There is immense pressure to behave with sufficient religiosity in this country, and the government espouses this anxiety as well. This has turned religion into a tool for social control, creating a suffocating environment in public spaces across the country. Room for secular voices is shrinking day by day – especially online. The effect this is having on our society can be seen through the numerous cases of vigilante killings of persons accused of blasphemy.
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There is hardly any entertainment in this country

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Cultural constraints and an uncertain security situation have left little room for events or venues where people can let their hair down. There’s not much to do in most of the country on a night out except eat. The only sport anyone is interested in is cricket, and that too has just started making a comeback in this country. It’s no wonder you see so many young men standing idly outside khokhas in the evenings, they have nowhere else to go!

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Security concerns have made life tedious

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Though the situation has improved in recent years, frequent and inconvenient security checks are still one of the most frustrating things about Pakistan. You can’t go anywhere these days without having to stop your car, roll down your window and having a policeman or soldier check your CNIC. Then when you get out of your car you have to get frisked and walk through metal detectors. These checks have made getting around a chore.

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Loadshedding has sent stress levels through the roof

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It’s annoying enough when the power goes out just when you wanted to charge your cell phone or watch TV, but there are worse consequences as well. Loadshedding has sent the overhead costs of running a business through the roof, hospital generators fail and patients die and alternate power sources like generators and UPS batteries pollute the environment. The government has claimed that it has ended the loadshedding problem, but we won’t know for certain until the summer. Past experience, of course, teaches us to be very skeptical of such a claim.

 

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