People below 35 years of age, or the youth, make up almost half of the registered voters in the country. These people can play a decisive role in the upcoming general elections.
The present day youth is more informed and is engaged in political debates through media than the past’s rather pessimistic youth.
These views were expressed at a roundtable conference organised by Jinnah Institute (JI) here on Thursday to solicit the views of young Pakistanis on the upcoming democratic transition.
The participating youth from both rural and urban constituencies however differed over the possibility of young people’s interest in politics translating into actual participation in politics or even votes on the election day.
Youth from urban areas noted a dearth of information on voting procedures among urban youth, which might contribute to a low turnout. Rural youth from Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) said traditional allegiances and biradri (tribal) affiliations will continue to play a decisive role in the voting patterns of the rural youth.
JI Policy and Programmes Director Raza Rumi concluded the session by saying, “There is a dire need for political parties, federal and provincial governments as well as civil society to work towards a more meaningful engagement strategy with young men and women in Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.