The percentage of youth in Pakistan’s population is a significant demographic feature of Pakistan. Rising militancy and violence in the country, deteriorating socio-economic conditions and a decrease in employment opportunities have caused disenchantment among the youth.
The youth in conflict-hit areas are the most affected because of discontinuity of education due to a combination of militant and security forces’ operations and political violence at university campuses particularly in Karachi.
Students hailing from conflict areas, studying in Islamabad, show symptoms of major psychological problems. Further, incidents of harassment and violence in the country’s leading universities present worrying signs of possible radical tendencies among the educated youth.
However, despite grave implications, not a single study has been conducted so far to focus on radicalisation among the educated youth of Pakistan. The present study is an effort to assess the general perceptions of the educated youth in Pakistan on specific social, political and religious issues in order to identify factors that enhance radical sentiments among them. The scope of the study is limited to students of post-graduate colleges and universities in Pakistan.
The youth potential if properly harnessed can bring a socio-economic revolution in Pakistan. On the contrary, if youth issues, perceptions, ideas, are not assessed and subsequently addressed in a timely manner it may turn into a ‘nightmare on street to prosperity.’
The aforementioned scenarios have implications for public policy, which is considered important not only in the context of growing security challenges in the region, but also in the realm of global knowledge based economies.
All over the world the youth is given prime importance in policy making due to the rapidly evolving knowledge base, new and emerging technologies, ever growing potential of social and economic networking in modern times, and livelihood challenges. In order to underscore the need for youth focused policy making, the United Nations has declared August 2010 to 2011 as the International year of youth.
If youth issues are not addressed in new growth initiatives at national as well as provincial level, it may have serious repercussions. Increasing spells of joblessness, among educated and uneducated youth will have far reaching impacts on the economic and social life of young people. For a majority of workers entering into labour market, it is not easy to find work after completing general education as they lack life and occupational skills. Youth unemployment results in social disintegration, discord and disagreement. Hence, the lack of proper employment opportunities for young people can have negative consequences for poverty alleviation strategies as well. There is a need to formulate inclusive growth strategy.
Pakistan’s slide towards radicalisation is not a foregone conclusion. In fact, a positive change in the current environment could produce a scenario highly amenable to progress. That being said, proactive and well-placed policy responses are required to undermine the present risks posed by poor educational quality, the stratified nature of the education system, and disparate economic opportunities, and further exacerbated by constricted migration options, a negative role of the state, and misplaced policies.
Recent developments in the Pakistan-US relationship do not bode well for a permanent multifaceted partnership. The stern US diplomatic signals in response to peace overtures by the newly elected democratic government in Pakistan and now unilateral cross-border strikes from Afghanistan are creating a bilateral rift. Both sides need to be careful not to allow concerns on the War on Terror front to hijack their broader relationship.
It is necessary for policy makers to avoid considering youth in Pakistan as a homogenous group. Various types of labour market outcomes within and between different regions of Pakistan show the difference in needs of young people to provide better employment opportunities.
Employment policies cannot be truly effective if youth is not considered as an asset to the society. The needs of youth must be addressed in a comprehensive manner keeping in view the educational, social and labour market requirements in different regions of the country. To create youth employment opportunities; there is a need for integrated approach comprising supportive economic policies that take into account issues pertaining to both labour demand and supply.
Such policies should be integrated into the overall job creation policies of the country. The authorities concerned should design and implement enterprise based youth employment policies according to their regional demand and supply conditions and type of the industry existing there.
All provinces of the country should formulate and implement policies and programmes for promoting youth and female employment in their respective provinces. In order to boost employment growth in the country, the government should finance short-term contracts for young researcher at universities and subsidize the posting of researchers to small and medium size firms and institutions.
This article was originally published at: The Express Tribune
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.