islamabad - The disengagement of Pakistan’s youth in the national politics is a collective failure of all stakeholders.
This was the assertion made at a policy dialogue organised yesterday by Jinnah Institute in collaboration with SZABIST University Islamabad titled ‘Democracy 3.0: Youth and the Future of Our Politics.’
Speaking on the occasion, Marvi Sirmed asserted that developments between elections are more important than events during an election. She added that in order to engage the youth in democracy, political parties and governance structures should incorporate youth into decision-making mechanisms. “For example, the age of representation in parliament should be brought down to 18 and aligned with the minimum age for voting,” she said.
Ammara Durrani was of the opinion that the criminalisation of student politics in the 1980s created a disconnect between youth and democracy and a lack of understanding between policymakers and the younger generation of Pakistan. While the 2013 elections saw an increase in youth engagement, the government and political parties had failed to institute youth inclusive policies in democratic structures. She added that restoration of student unions in Pakistan is essential for re-establishing the nurseries of politics and may allow for a robust engagement of youth in electoral processes and governance. The policy dialogue was followed by an interactive Q and A session. The SZABIST students questioned the electoral procedures currently in place.
They showed concern that most youth are told who to vote for. They noted that society and family play an influential role in determining party allegiances. Such an arrangement moves Pakistan away from democratic tendencies.
Another concern amongst students was the structural lack of representation in government even after leaders are voted for and consequently elected, and the absence of service delivery, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.