PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government had established youth centres in seven districts of the province in 2013 to empower the youth, however, the centres have become dysfunctional owing to lack of funds.
While the government states new policies are being implemented, the youth is dissatisfied with the current situation.
The state of affairs
The provincial government in its budget for 2013-14 allocated Rs10 million for each centre established, however, after utilisation of these funds in the first year, money ceased to come through.
Sumaira Shams, a member of Peshawar’s youth centres advisory board, told The Express Tribune they have arranged activities for the city’s youth under the banner of the centres but when the bodies became dysfunctional, it only irked the youth.
“No funds have been released in the last two years despite the fact proposals have been submitted to the department regarding their release,” she said. The work of these centres was taking place in the offices of district departments, including the ones of deputy commissioner and sports department.
“The youth of the province is in severe need of extra-curricular activities to mellow the effects of frequent terror activities,” Shams added.
An amount of Rs50 million was allocated by the government in the budget of 2015-16 for construction of 76 youth centres in all districts of K-P. However, the budget of the 2016-17 shows no amount was allocated in 2015-16.
While talking to The Express Tribune, a youth activist Shafiq Gigyani said, “The PTI government has bagged votes from K-P’s youth by making hollow promises – even the existing centres are not functioning properly.”
He said youth activities should be promoted in the province with special focus on youth entrepreneurship programmes so the youth can acquire skills and knowledge required for starting small businesses.
He added activities of the centres in the province should be sustained at any cost. “The government should also involve the talented young people in running government departments so that the officials are helped.”
Besides the establishment and operations of youth centres, Gigyani said, there should also be a policy on national and provincial levels to engage the young people in activities as according to the Youth Bulge Theory high population of people leads to unrest.
The other side
Adviser to Chief Minister on Information and Public Relations Mushtaq Ghani said the funds were provided to centres in the past but the government was now striving to formulate a youth policy to streamline the entire process. Ghani told The Express Tribune that as soon as the policy was unveiled by the government, various steps will be taken to empower the youth.
“Besides youth centres, the K-P government has started various projects, including those for skills development for youth, construction of playgrounds in various districts and provision of loans to young people.”
When asked about funds that have not been released for the construction of 76 youth centres, Ghani said this was because of absence of a proper youth policy, which was under way.
The issue stands despite the fact that youth empowerment was the major clause in PTI’s election manifesto, which was much emphasised by PTI Chairperson Imran Khan in his speeches before the general elections of 2013 in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2016.