KARACHI: The youth policy draft bill of 2012 is more or less a cut-and-paste version of Punjab’s bill and fails to address the peculiar circumstances of Sindh.
Aurat Foundation regional coordinator Malka Khan said this while addressing a consultation meeting on ‘Youth Policy, Sindh’, organised by Aurat Foundation and attended by members of civil society at Marriott Hotel on Monday. According to her, the youth in small districts of Sindh face immense issues. “The issues are many, from girls who can’t travel long distances to lack of colleges for students,” she said.
The foundation’s regional director, Mehnaz Rehman, talked about the need to work upon the bill. She said that youth policy strategies need to be part of the framework and the bill should include knowledge-based programmes and an outline for the work towards the development of positive and creative attitudes. “The spirit of volunteerism needs to be inculcated among the youth,” she said.
“Young people should be more empathetic towards others and should not be concerned about their careers and jobs alone.” Discussing jobs, she added that the department of youth affairs lacks a central planning policy. “There should be more events in universities and colleges that guarantee jobs to young people before graduation, as used to happen in the past.”
Civil Society Support Program executive director Noor Bajeer reiterated that Sindh’s youth policy draft has been copied from Punjab’s document despite the fact that both the provinces differ on so many levels. He emphasised a number of baselines that should be part of the youth policy. “Suicide and employment figures should be taken into account as well as the involvement of youth in criminal activity,” he said. He further added that the youth policy should not be restricted to the youth department and all the stakeholders should be taken on board. “Character-building and human rights components are missing in the draft bill,” he pointed out.
Speakers also claimed that more than half of the youth do not have access to schools or any sort of vocational training. Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) executive director Karamat Ali stressed the need to have more critical thinkers with the potential to engage in politics.
Sana Rubab from Piler was of the view that youth policy should be participatory. She said that student unions should be restored as they will provide young people with an opportunity to engage in social dialogue. Youth Parliament’s Rizwan Jaffar seconded her by saying that the people of Sindh should be made part of the policy-making.
Pakistan Muslim League-Functional lawmaker Nusrat Seher Abbasi said that in the seven years that she has been part of the Parliament, youth affairs have never been given much importance. “I have submitted a lot of questions regarding policy but have never received a response from the parliament on this.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2015.