The Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year 2017 is ‘youthquake’; Defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’. Given youth having a dominant share in the population, growing politicization of society, increasing sensitization of growing basic needs, and besides many other factors, the role played by political parties and media – print, electronic and digital – there are bright prospects of a society being led by a more socially and politically aware youth.
A recent United Nations Population Fund report makes the claim that out of 200 million people, 63 percent of Pakistan’s population comprises of youth. Of these, 58.5 million are 20-to-24-year olds while 69 million are aged under 15. Although, exact figures are yet to be published in detailed census report, but, these figures could be relied on to be of close proximity.
These figures solidify the assertion that youth is a segment of society which has the potential to transform the society for its betterment, owing to the huge presence in the demography.
In cognizance of the role due to them, youth never shrugged off the responsibility and shouldered equally to live up to the expectations posed in them. On the political front, from Pakistan movement, till the restoration of democracy, till the rise of urbanized protest movements, youth has been the cornerstone of the struggle. While, on the other hand, the youth has transformed the society by taking part in different NGO’s for awareness-raising campaign, in rehabilitation following natural disasters, for helping the destitute and neglected populace – an overwhelming majority living below poverty line, and in other countless occasions rising above the ethnic, sectarian, gender and class differences.
With the growing realization of education’s crucial role in society, youth-led from the front and has accomplished wonders in their respective fields. Despite the constraints imposed by the educational sector, in particular, and society in general, they left no stone unturned in being better equipped to face a uncertain, intricate and hostile future, considering the state of collapsing system and trajectory of growth indicators. This refined product got the opportunity to further improvise themselves by acquiring required skills for information based industry, which has replaced the manufacturing sector world wide.
Easy access to information, better facilities for mobilization, free-of-cost availabity of digital media – social media- and a growing urge to reform has resulted in the multitude of movements around the country. Political grouping at campuses, study circles, public spaces for issues-oriented discussions and a vibrant media, providing the topic for the discussion, are among the essentials for the initiation of dialouge. An encouraging aspect of this process is that women, broke the shakles of the contradictory values, to took the center-stage at these activities.
After connecting with like-minded people, issues are discussed and gatherings are planned to commemorate the related events. Amidst the killing of Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud, an aspiring model, in Karachi, in a fake encounter alleged to have carried by SSP Malir, Rao Anwar, the infuriated youth led the long march and shook the foundations of the status quo forces. Another glaring example is the ‘Girls at Dhaba’ movement. The motive is to reclaim the public spaces for the women, by the women and ofcourse, of the women. This is a perfect democratic idea to begin with.
Its high time that youth realizes its true potential, envisage the role that could be played for having a more inclusive, tolerant and peacful place to live and to start connecting with the like minded people to form movements. Though, there could be specific-issue centeric movements, catering to the divergent intersts, but, in the wake of a situtation presenting collective threats, all such mini-movements can turn together, in a loosely structured movements, to build a mass-movement. The enviromentalists, artists, rights-activists, feminists, professionals- doctors, professors, engineers, service-providers, traders, etc. – and students, besides so many other’s intricate sub-divisions, obviously, breath in same air, face the heightened bigotry, bear the growing expense and get traumatised by terror attacks, all collectively. By joining hands, breaking walls and building bridges, we can make a difference. But for that, tolerating others and contentedly living with the differences, is a prerequisite.
A collective struggle, guided by the constitutionalists, can surmount daunting problems being faced today, as long as it remain within the constitutional framework and respects the constitutional institutions of Pakistan.