PESHAWAR: While seasoned politicians and former nazims are busy preparing for local government elections, so are the youth. In fact, they have a chance of winning at least one seat in every village and neighbourhood council of the province.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, a total of 3,339 seats have been reserved for the youth at village and neighbourhood council level, which is 5% of overall local government berths. The maximum age to contest a youth seat is 25 years.
Data showed that 14,224 candidates would contest elections on reserved youth seats and majority of these candidates are either from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or contesting independently.
Talking to The Express Tribune, PTI Youth Wing General Secretary Syed Qasim Shah said party tickets have been issued for all seats and 3,339 PTI candidates will contest for them.
Elaborating on the basic criteria for a youth ticket, the general secretary said the candidate should be a PTI worker and at least a graduate.
He said the party did not get involved in student politics for these elections, but added that university and college goers do take part in campaigning to motivate the people, especially the youth, to vote for “honest candidates”.
About the basic responsibilities of elected representatives, the general secretary said they will motivate the youth to obtain an education and try and create job opportunities. “He [or she] will educate young people on using modern equipment like the computer, mobile and internet, apart from helping them search for jobs through social media.
Qasim said their workers also run campaigns on social media to motivate the youth for elections.
He said this was the first time youngsters were taking such an active interest in elections and this will boost their political awareness.
Pakhtun Student Federation (PkSF) University of Peshawar chapter General Secretary Mukarab Khan said that according to the party’s constitution, not one of its office bearers can participate in elections or mainstream politics. He said students may be running campaigns for their relatives or party candidates in their own areas, but they do not play politics in universities.
He said the students were busy with studies and were not made part of the electoral process.
Mukarab added their old party colleagues were contesting elections in their respective areas for different seats, but now do not have any affiliation with the PSF. He said university students are also contesting elections on various party tickets or independently.
A PTI youth candidate from Mardan, Shahid Khan, said he never got involved in student politics, but his ambition is to join the big league. “I am unaware of the local government setup and will learn further when elected,” he assured.
Another youth candidate, Salih Hussain, a student of UoP, said he was unaware of his role and responsibilities if elected. He said a family member convinced him to contest election so he submitted his papers. “I have no idea about the local government setup, but I will learn when elected,” he claimed.
UoP Islami Jamiat Talba General Secretary Mian Sohaib said all those contesting for youth seats are unaware of politics and their responsibilities should they secure a seat. He criticised the government for not allowing student politics in universities as they can learn a great deal at this level.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2015.