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Published Date: Feb 24, 2015

Political participation of youth necessary for democratic development

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar attributed the general lack of trust in political systems and political parties among young people to the ban on student unions and absence of local government systems.

The seminar titled ‘Youth and Democratic Development in Pakistan’ was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

Experts speaking at the seminar said various political parties had failed to develop a system which would allow young people to participate in their affairs which is why democracy does not flourish at the grassroots level.

“The youth has been active in politics since partition but their meaningful role is missing,” said Awami National Party (ANP) Women Wing Vice-president Bushra Gohar.

She said she disagreed with the idea that young people are not engaged in politics but added that the unfortunate ban on students’ politics during the Zia regime caste out young people from politics.

“This is why today, young leadership is not emerging,” she said.

Stressing the importance of student politics, she gave the examples of Afrasiab Khattak and Mian Ifthikhar Hussain of ANP who emerged as national leaders after success in student politics.

Some speakers argued that violence in the country can also be attributed to the lack of forums where young people can express themselves.

PPP-P Senator Osman Saifullah, said that his is the only party, which follows through on its promises regarding youth participation. “We are criticised on many forums for having Bilawal Bhutto, a young person, as our chairman”

He said that it is unfortunate that the government is being run by people in their 60s and 70s. “Young people must be involved in decision making as they have to face the consequences of decisions made,” he said.

“We need a development agenda by the youth,” he added.

MQM MNA Dr Fauzia Hameed said that 43 per cent of the country’s population was young and young people needed encouragement to participate in politics for a prosperous Pakistan.

She said the MQM was the only party which was born through its student wing and later social and political wings were created.

Meanwhile, in his introductory remarks, Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, Senior Research Associate of SDPI, said lack of confidence among youth was a hurdle in the way of sustainable development.

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