With over 44 percent of new voters between the ages of 18 and 35, Pakistan’s youth will play an important role in the upcoming elections and influence the future of the country’s democracy. To harness the power of Pakistan’s youth, a recent UNDP Human Development Report argues for a national focus on youth empowerment through education, employment, and meaningful engagement. Failing to do so could lead to youth anger and dissent, spelling disaster for the future of Pakistan.
The Pakistani state is already facing grievance-fueled movements. Ring-wing extremist groups have gained political strength, notably staging a 21-day sit-in in Pakistan’s capital in November of last year, while more secular mobilization pressing human rights claims also gained momentum. According to the report, youth will prove to be a dividend or a serious challenge to the country, depending on how Pakistan invests in their development. To positively impact that policy, youth must be empowered and engaged.
On July 18th, the U.S. Institute of Peace held a panel discussion to examine the state of Pakistan’s youth and their potential impact on upcoming elections and democracy. Take part in the conversation on Twitter with #PakYouth.
Visiting Research Fellow, CATO Institute
Dr. Adil Najam
Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University and
Author, UNDP Pakistan National Human Development Report
Pir Zubair Shah
Jumaina Siddiqui, Moderator
Senior Program Officer, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace