Thursday December 08, 2022

Youth: The future lies in their hands

August 14, 2021

“Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students who have always been in the forefront in the hour of trial and need. You are the nation’s leaders of tomorrow and you must fully equip yourself by discipline, education and training for the arduous task lying ahead of you. You should realise the magnitude of your responsibility and be ready to bear it.” (Jinnah, October, 31,1947)

The above visionary words from the Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah highlight the importance of youth who are the most valuable asset for any nation. Undoubtedly, youngsters play a vital role in building a country. They have served as a revolutionary force across the world throughout the human history. If a country’s youth is properly utilised, trained, educated, and informed, they can accomplish great things for their country.

Over 64% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30, which makes Pakistan one of the youngest countries of the world. From the time of independence till now, our beloved homeland has faced many difficult situations. Amid such chaos, there is still a great deal of optimism, expectation, and possibilities for success and triumph. From the mountains of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the coastal line of Karachi, youngsters are playing their part in making Pakistan a better place to live. There are some significant contributions made by our youth who are the change agents of our country and give us hope for a better tomorrow.

Junaid Iqbal is one such youth who is a peace ambassador of Neelum valley. He is working as a trainer and advocate of education in Azad Jammu and Kashmir for the last couple of years to achieve targets under Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for his country.

“Being a resident of an underprivileged and vulnerable society, I always had the dream to bring a positive change in the society by motivating people to do something for the betterment of our community. For this, I launched Youth-Centric Society-YCS with a vision to engage and empower youth for the benefit of people around us. We have conducted different seminars, workshops, and humanitarian activities regarding youth and women empowerment, peace building and democracy. Gradually we are changing the mindsets of people around us. I believe that our leaders have made us like robots that follow the commands of their masters. They have taken our creative and innovative thinking capabilities from us. I believe we can only achieve an independent homeland if the youth has a chance to think and act freely. We have to start our journey by taking smaller steps towards change. We have to make a chain of passionate and zealous youth who find positive routes while facing hardships and difficulties,” he maintianed.

With the passage of time, young generation is breaking the stereotypes. Not only boys but girls are also coming forward and are contributing for the prosperity of their homeland. A proud daughter of Balochistan, Hazaran Rahim is a young artist who is highlighting the issues of the Baloch community through her writings. She is working as the Vice-President of Lyari Literary Forum where she promotes art and literature by conducting weekly study programs. While emphasising the importance of youth she said: “Youth play an integral part in shaping a country’s future. They are full of brilliant ideas. Their thoughts can open up the new paths of growth for the country. Youngsters can start their journey with very minor yet inevitable steps that will lead to great improvement and eventually shape Pakistan’s future as a progressive nation,” she said in a committed tone.

We have often heard that God helps those who help themselves and Abdul Rehman proved this by working hard in pursuing his dreams and making his country proud. From working as a cleaner at a restaurant to achieving UGRAD Scholarship on his own he became a source of motivation for the students around him. Sharing his thoughts, Abdul Rehman says:.

“I won the UGRAD Scholarship in 2018. The reason to apply was to expand my horizon and to gain international exposure. Under the program, I was sent to the University of Central Missouri, USA where I attended a six month Intensive English Course. During this, I also participated in twenty hours of community service activities and represented the positive image of Pakistan.” To him, hard work and consistency are the keys to achieve goal. His advice to youth is: “The future of our families, communities and country lies in our hands. While living in our cultures, we can bring change in our society by being tolerant towards others and giving respect to difference of opinions.”

Nowadays, intolerant extremist behaviour is observed in our society among various religious groups but youngsters like Lal Rai believe that people of all caste, creed, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation can co-exist peacefully without any discrimination. Lal belongs to Umerkot, Sindh where majority of Hindu population resides.

As a young peace maker, Lal has been working to eliminate prejudice among people of different ethnicities by promoting dialogues and communication. He designed and led multiple capacity-building workshops and peace campaigns with diverse youth groups and trained more than 7000 youth from different areas of Pakistan. While sharing his thoughts Lal said: “Pakistan is the fifth largest young country in the world. It reflects the importance and power that lies in the hands of young people. Youngsters of the country will be leading the nation tomorrow so the different stakeholders and policymakers need to understand the power of youth, they should create such spaces where they can polish their skills, and bring them into the decision making process so they can also play their part in creating a progressive and peaceful Pakistan.”

Many youngsters are working as activists but there is a great need for such individuals who can bring grassroots changes, like teachers. A young teacher from Karachi Aqsa Razzak who is currently teaching the primary school children at NJV School, advises all youngsters to make their profession as their passion.

“I’ve always seen myself at a position where my profession should be equal to my passion. We are meant to do a lot more than just getting a degree and work from 9 to 5. I am not working in my actual field but helping primary champions at a school level to learn new things. This gives me more satisfaction than anything else around me. Being a youth, what I am seeing in today’s Pakistan that now we don’t have leaders anywhere. There are some selfish and corrupt politicians. Our youth need to understand the principles, ideals, values and vision of our founding father, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and work selflessly for Jinnah’s Pakistan”.

The above stories of change are a clear sign that the youth of Pakistan are full of potential, energy and ideas. What they need is an enabling environment that will allow them to take risks, innovate and engage productively. We also need to develop such institutions which promote youth and give them a chance to share their ideas and aims with their elders, because a country’s development only depends on its youth.