“A dynamic National Youth Policy will be implemented,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised while announcing PML-N’s manifesto 2013 before general elections. The promise is in the party’s election manifesto on page 44.
Sharing his plan at a press conference, Nawaz said that the youth policy would be implemented through a skills development program which would create one million positions for apprenticeship. Self-employment loans would be given to the youth. He further said that his government would hire the services of youth for a national literacy program. He also promised to involve youth in governance at the local level through special seats reserved for them in Union and District councils.
According to the Ministry of Youth Affairs, youth comprise 27 percent of the country’s population. Despite this fact, Pakistan to date does not have any comprehensive National Youth Policy. It is unfortunate that the elected democratic governments never formulated any youth policy, whereas Military dictators always made efforts in that regard. The first youth policy was introduced during the military dictator Ayub Khan’s era in the 1960s. Then, former President Pervez Musharraf announced a youth policy during his tenure. But after his departure, there has been no youth policy. Various ministries and departments have some programs dealing with various facets of the lives of youth, but the country still lacks an integrated, well-synchronized and forward-looking youth policy.
In a telephone interview with Truth Tracker , PML-N Spokesman Siddique Al-Farooq said that the government was planning to announce a youth policy. He said, “We are consulting all stakeholders in this regard and we will announce the policy in October as promised by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation. The policy is being prepared keeping in view the PML-N manifesto. This policy will give momentum to youth.”
While talking to Truth Tracker, PTI Punjab Spokesperson Andaleeb Abbas said that the PML-N did not outline any youth policy during their last tenure (2008 to 2013). She also said PML-N did not have the vision to form any youth policy at the national level during their present term either. She added, “If PML-N frames such policies, it will only be on papers but will never be implemented.” She pointed out examples such as the Laptop Scheme for the Youth, a plan for Daanish Schools, and a Yellow-Cab Scheme etc. that she said had no real impact on youth. “How can we expect that PML-N will now be able to frame any such policy?” she asked.
Dr. Baela Raza Jamil, director of programs for Idara-e-Taleem- o-Aagahi (ITA) (Centre of Education and Consciousness), while talking to Truth Tracker by phone, said that for sustainable economic growth, Pakistan needed to exploit its youth bulge, which was 60 percent of the total population. But, he said, things mentioned for the youth in the manifesto of PML-N were narrow.
“We have to prepare our youth for governance and 21st century requirements,” she said. ” The government should hold young leaders summits, bring active citizen programs and focus on rural youth which really needs young leaders.” She opined that youth should be well-equipped with education and technology and, to that end, there should be a comprehensive youth-focused policy with mandatory implementation.
“Right now, our youth is like a time ticking bomb, which could explode at any time if not given proper direction,” Dr. Jamil said. She urged higher budgetary allocations for the youth programs.
While talking to Truth Tracker, Dr. Mehdi Hasan, professor at Beaconhouse National University said, “Primarily Pakistan needs to outline a national ideology/philosophy for giving direction to the youth.” He further said, “Military dictators always frame youth policies because they need a support base in the country. On the other hand, elected governments in Pakistan do not feel need to form any youth policy since they enjoy popularity among the masses.” He added, “However PML-N is trying to woo the youth to counter PTI because they consider Imran Khan as their leader.”
Hassan said that the country badly needed a youth policy as the majority of its population was youth.
Truth Tracker will keep tracking the progress of the fulfillment of this promise.