Kaptan’s Promises And Disappointed Youth
In the backdrop of a global decline in population growth rates, Pakistan stands out as a country with a youthful demographic profile. With more than 65 million young people between 10 and 24 years old, Pakistan has one of the largest young populations in South Asia.
Adolescents and youth represent the economic future of Pakistan and research shows how critical it is to continue investing in them so they can achieve their full potential. We need to take advantage of the youth dividend to support economic and social growth, close the gender gap, and reduce exclusion and inequalities.
According to the Census 2017, the total population of Pakistan is 208 million of which 49 percent are women; an estimated 29 percent of the total population in the age group 15-29 years, half of which are women. Currently with 63 percent of Pakistan’s population in rural areas, the majority is of female youth. While all youth needs to be mobilized and provided opportunities for a robust, dynamic, and progressive Pakistan, there is an urgency to focus on young women.
Meanwhile, the country is experiencing the phenomenon of unemployed educated people, particularly jobless graduates. The unemployment rate among degree-holders is almost three times higher than the other overall unemployed people. The reason given for this is a mismatch between the education being imparted and the need of the economy to sufficiently absorb fresh graduates.
Additionally, Pakistan’s economy has badly suffered from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. This adverse economic impact of the pandemic has translated through various channels, including the decline of domestic demand, decrease in business activities, a decline in import and export, and reduction in production due to supply chain disruption. One of the very obvious effects is a decrease in employment, particularly among youth.
Given the above situation, it would be very disappointing to look at the current government’s youth policy. If it is said, PTI used the youth and did not take any significant steps for them after coming into power.
The PTI is the same party, which fully relied on the young population of the country before the 2018 elections. Simultaneously, the youth also supported the PTI with the hope that it was going to prove itself to be a better alternative to the PPP and the PML-N.
The previous confidence of the youth has now started to shake because of both the public ridicule of their choices as well as the failure of the PTI to deliver on its promises. Now there lies a real danger that the political participation of the youth may start to dwindle even if the democratic transition continues in the country.
It is important to mention here that in such a situation, the Pakistani youth will not believe in any political party or leader in the future. It is unfortunate that despite having such a large number of young people, country is unable to take advantage of youth bulge due to incompetency of the rulers.
Therefore due to the youth bulge, approximately 1.5 to 2 million youth are annually being added to the job market in Pakistan, and providing jobs to such a huge number every year is the most challenging task in such an unstable economy of the country. However, this is also alarming that still; the PTI government has not taken any serious measure to provide job opportunities to the youth. Contrarily, the government had cut 40 percent educational budget, and a huge number of employed persons were kicked off from their jobs due to such a miserable economic condition of the country which shows a complete failure of the incumbent government in terms of what promises it had made with the youth before elections.
It is vital to listen to young people’s needs and offer them tangible opportunities to contribute to peace, progress, and prosperity. The road ahead will be challenging, given Pakistan’s limited fiscal space and governance systems that have historically struggled to ensure efficient spending.