Youth Engagement can build Soft Power of Pakistan
Mian Majid Ali Afzal
A big chunk of the world population consists of young people who are regarded, especially in the developing world, as critical and crucial agents for social change and economic progress. At present, approximately 60 percent of the world’s population is under age 30 with more than half of this bracket having ages between 16 and 29 years. Therefore, it is important to draw up better policies channel the talents and skills of young people in the right direction and to prepare and encourage them to play their due role in the development of the society.
In developing countries, youth populations are the largest. Some countries of South Asia would see a continuous increase in that especially until the 2030s. According to recent estimates, Pakistan’s youth population stands at around 55.7 million, representing over 30% of the country’s total population. According to the World Bank Report (2007), Pakistan’s youth population will peak in 2039, with an average annual growth rate of 1.3% by 2015 and 9% from 2025 to 2035, as predicted by the United Nations Medium Variant Projections. Hence, it is very important for the policymakers to bring some changes to their research styles so as to get more accurate results and understand youth issues in the real sense. Instead of focusing solely on structured and formal research methods, local and meaningful youth participation should be responded to on a daily basis.
Currently, about 3 million skilled Pakistani youth are at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic> this is the time for the government to engage them in more than 90 freelancing informal youth fields, e.g. e-commerce, mobile development, Email and marketing automation strategy, content writing, SEO SMM experts, Audio-video experts, Accountants and Consultants, Support and Assistant, Designers and Creatives, IT and Networking, Data Science and Analytics, Translation, Engineering and Architecture, Legal and Corporate fields, to name a few. The government should urgently develop a website and register all the skilled youth on it and provide them a state-sponsored platform. Pakistani young people are very energetic and willing to do anything for the country’s development. They are optimistic about their role in bringing peace and prosperity to society. Keeping in view the rising youth bulge and emergence of new resources for youth development, it is very easy to engage skilled youth at a state-sponsored platform and link this platform to the main server of Google with effective and practicable youth policy and strategy for Pakistani youth. Even a national youth policy or provincial youth policies should be made and implemented with coordination among the provinces under centre’s supervision. In addition, policymakers must realize that youth empowerment can be achieved by engaging youth in the civil decision-making process and considering them stakeholders while pursuing youth-related policies. The government should consider youth as future and must prioritize youth empowerment by increasing the share of the budget spent on youth development activities. There is also a dire need of conducting research to find out innovative ways to engage young people in a way that also leads to social development at large.
The writer is a member of Anti-Drug Task Force Punjab.