Youth, they say, is wasted on the young. They being old-timers who’ve realised the possibility of youth, that ephemeral commodity that they had squandered off themselves. Wistful comments on our disaffected youth can be heard throughout the year but it is national holidays, the 14th of August in particular, when the entire commentariat gangs up on the youth on motorbikes, the sort with a particular penchant for “one-wheeling.”
It’s not as if they shouldn’t. These youngsters are a menace on the roads, endangering not only their lives but also – and this is infinitely worse – the lives of others. Motorbike related shenanigans have claimed a number of lives across the country on Independence Day. The state has to intervene in these situations and bring them to book. Having said that, there has to be some thought put into why the youth take to such things. Is it some ill-defined sense of deprivation? Is it some deep rooted desire to somehow prove oneself?
Truth be told, Pakistan is not a good country to be young in. There are just not enough avenues for entertainment here. There aren’t any sporting facilities. There is an abject dearth of cinemas; Islamabad, in particular, being perhaps the only capital city in the region which doesn’t have a single cinema. There aren’t any community centres that could encourage other skills as well. Whatever little opportunities there are, exist only for the boys; the suffocating environment that young girls are brought up in is even worse. Counterintuitively, some of the rural areas of the country accord girls more freedom than the stifling small towns.
Celebrated former mayor of Bogota Enrique Penalosa put public parks and hospitals in the same category of importance. Without recreation, he said, there’ll be crime, domestic violence and a generally unhappy populace.
True, the state can do only so much; there are serious fiscal constraints. But at least identifying the problem would be a start.