Pakistan has a large youth population. An estimated 103 million or 63 per cent of the population fall under the age of 25 years. Due to endemic poverty, the majority of youth in Pakistan do not have the opportunity to experience a childhood. Male youth literacy rate is estimated to be 53 per cent and female youth literacy rate is even lower at 42 per cent, while 15 per cent of the youth is unemployed.
Despite constituting a major chunk of our population, our youth are lagging behind in every field. They have a major role to play in country’s progress but due to lack of support they are facing many new challenges in today’s society: they are afflicted by an identity crisis, lack of self-confidence, a sense of hopelessness and confusion, and ambiguity concerning about moral issues and the future. They have been trapped in a culture marked by guns, violence and drugs. All this has resulted in an unstable economy, a shattered confidence of foreign investors, lawlessness and a break-up of the social fabric. Let’s see what major problems are faced by our youth.
The most profound problem our youth is facing at present is frustration. This monster is eating up our youth slowly and gradually. The youth in Pakistan don’t have jobs, means of healthy entertainment, health resources and awareness. The frustration as a result of multitude problems is increasing day by day.
Education is the most powerful weapon of the youth. With it they could lead their country towards progress. Unfortunately, quality and skill based education is still a dream for our youth, especially for the poor. There is no formal guidance for students in logical selection of a specific course of study. There is no unified education system. Our universities and colleges have become degree distributing machines. Education does not mean only degrees but in its true sense it is the future of the youth.
Another major problem faced by our youth is unemployment. After completing their education, they find no job to utilize their skills to serve their country. This is the result of government’s inability to utilize youth in a proper manner. Deteriorating conditions are also responsible for low investment in the country, resulting in fewer job opportunities. Unemployment is a multi-dimensional and complex issue which starts a vicious circle of associated problems like involvement of youth in radical politics, bank and household burglaries, social insecurity, lawlessness, and use of drugs.
Poverty is another major problem of our youth. Due to lack of resources they are unable to get quality education and pursue their field of interest. Poverty is a sort of disease which is weakening our youth. They are unable to fully use their talent and serve their country.
Owing to poverty and unemployment, parents prefer sending their children to labour instead of to school. They make them do so to support their family and use them as earning hands from the early age. Child labour is a sort of deluge that is draining away our precious talent. Child labour can push young ones into bad company and immoral activities such as use of drugs and crime.
Some youth in a grim situation find no other consolation and resort to the use of drugs. Growing use of narcotics is becoming a major problem of our youth. They find it the cheapest source to fight their miseries. But they never realize that this habit of theirs wastes their priceless capabilities and drags them to the brink of death.
Saddest of all our youth – in sheer disappointment – are committing suicide. They waste their life without knowing their worth. Use of drugs, poverty, unemployment and failure in life are the major reasons behind this curse.
Furthermore, pressure from parents and a rigid system is also a bolt from blue to our youth. Social taboos hinder our youth from freely deciding about their future. They cannot follow their dreams. This leads them to escape from their responsibilities towards their parents and their country.
Last but not least, the role of media in upbringing our youth has been minimal. Most of the youth find our TV programmes non-entertaining and unattractive. Everybody is interested in watching other South Asian and Western channels. As a consequence of cultural invasion, our youth’s role in promoting our country has been dismal.
Despite the multiplicity of problems, it is still a right time for government to take some pragmatic steps. Of the 15 largest countries in the world in terms of population, Pakistan has by far the youngest population. Government should not regard the young population as a burden but an asset. We need to bear in mind that “the destiny of nations is in the hands of youth”.