ISLAMABAD: Politicians and youth held a dialogue on inclusion of issues affecting young people in the election manifestos.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) had organised the Youth Dialogue with Political Parties on Inclusion of Youth Issues in Political Manifestos for 2018 Elections.
The dialogue was attended by senior parliamentarians and political leaders, including PML-N (women) Central Information Secretary Sadia Sharif, PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bukhari, PTI MNA Shafqat Mahmood, Leader of the Opposition in Balochistan Assembly Maulana Abdul Wasay, and JUI-F MNA Shahida Akhtar Ali, JI Deputy Ameer Farid Paracha and National Party Senior Vice President Dr Ishaque Baloch.
Youth speakers included former members of Youth Parliament including Waleed Bizenjo, Sadia Sadullaj Khan, Mehrunisa Malik and Muhammad Mustafa besides Saaf Suthra Sheher Chief Operating Officer Shaheer Niazi, scientist Ejaz Abbasi, Pakistan Workers Federation Youth Wing head Advocate Saad Chaudhry, trade union activist Daniyal Hassan and IT entrepreneur Basil Nabi Malik.
PILDAT President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said that youth constitute 31% of Pakistan’s more than 207 million population, while approximately 46% of the country’s total electorate today comprises youth. “Effective political and civic participation by youth is a pre-requisite for sustainable democracy in Pakistan,” he said.
UNDP Country Director Ignacio Artaza, said: “Pakistan has the largest generation of young people ever recorded in its history.
This dialogue is taking place as the nation prepares for its third consecutive general election this year.
Youth representatives identified issues of revival of students’ unions, lack of quality of education homelessness and sexual exploitation of children, lack of availability of clean drinking water across Pakistan, madaaris to introduce standard curriculum alongside religious education, requirement of development focus on peri-urban and rural youth, career counselling services in educational institutions, counter-terrorism, entrepreneurship opportunities as well as investments in scientific education, business and investment. Youth representatives also emphasised that youth bulge should not just be addressed in the sense of economic dividend but also as a democratic dividend which requires that parties promote, strengthen and defend the fundamental right of citizens to right to information and media.
Party representatives appreciated the candid review and input by youth representatives on their respective 2013 manifesto pledges and underscored the need for youth to hold the parties to account on the implementation of their manifesto pledges using their right to vote in the upcoming General Election. Each party agreed that youth holds the key to the future of democratic governance in Pakistan and therefore investments in human and youth development, education and vocational training and facilitation for entrepreneurship and employment must be made in their respective upcoming manifestoes for 2018 General Election. Party representatives, however, cautioned that the issues of youth cannot be delinked from the national scenario of reducing fiscal space for human development. Among the participating political parties, PPP, JI and PML-Q unveiled specific commitments for youth in their upcoming 2018 election manifestoes.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2018.