Despite being active on social media platforms, the youth’s electoral participation is abysmally low compared to international democracies. Unless ways to increase their turnout are devised and implemented, democracy is at the threat of being unrepresentative.
These concerns were raised at a Dialogue organized in Lahore by PILDAT and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Pakistan, titled ‘Missing Young Voters of Pakistan’. Director Protocol ECP Qurat-ul-Ain Fatima highlighted the ECP’s continuous efforts to engage and educate Pakistan’s youth about the significance of their vote.
She highlighted the ECP’s SVEEP programme, which focuses on educating new voters and has completed 443 sessions in schools, colleges and universities across Pakistan. To actively pursue the younger, tech-savvy generation, they collaborate with YouTubers and vloggers attending seminars and workshops, to further the message of voting to their audience.
In 2018, the ECP Protocol Wing launched an internship programme in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, offering students an opportunity to directly learn about the election process.
Qurat-ul-Ain suggested reserving seats for young representatives in the Senate and National and Provincial Assemblies and introducing elections and democracy as a compulsory part of the education syllabus.
President PILDAT Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said that if the youth is not led on democratic paths, they are at risk of developing extremist and radical tendencies, which will threaten the existence of democracy within the country.
A comparison of India and Pakistan’s youth voting trends was made by Mehboob, after which he presented examples of democracies from around the world and highlighted their innovative efforts to increase young voter turnout.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2022.
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