Youth and change

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Change is a slow process, sometimes painfully slow

Addressing the Punjabi Muslim Students Federation at Lahore on October 31, 1947, Jinnah said: “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.”

It is clear from Jinnah’s statement that youth is an integral part of the state as they are the leaders of tomorrow. However, in today’s world, leadership is not the only trait one should look for in the youth, another closely related quality is also of great import: the aptitude to bring change in society.

Youth today has whatever it wants at its disposal and our laws provide them the rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association, but using law for personal petty interests is not good. Instead, they should be used to create pathways for the sake of national interests. By doing this, they sure will create a window of opportunity not only for themselves but also for other people.

Youth also needs to come forward to voice their opinion and not be afraid of learning from experiences of others. One of the ways where they can put their collective efforts is on how to improve the education system because it is they who are going through it and they know well what they need. If it doesn’t bring any change, it will at least lay down ground work for this debate to become mainstream and national.

Youth is often attributed to change and change is good. Without change there would only be stagnation and then decay will take over. Change is not an event that can happen overnight, it’s a process, a slow and steady process. If people expected the youth to change the future of Pakistan in the elections, they were in for a surprise. Youth brings change through their fresh intellectual fervor and the results can differ from region to region and context to context. However, in Pakistan’s case, what they have done is that they have opened up for discussion the very possibility of change in the country. People should not fall prey to the utopian ideals of change; they should know that it is a slow, sometimes painfully slow, process.

Answering that all too important question as to how youth can utilise their abilities to bring change is simple and complex at the same time. They need an ideology to initiate the process of change and awareness level about any initiative they might take needs to be increased. Educating the masses of Pakistan will be equivalent to achieving a milestone in itself. It is here the youth can play an important role, by educating people. For example, informing people about the importance of vote, why to vote and who to vote for was a challenging task, still they did it and with such huge success.

More important than all, a process of dialogue should be initiated as dialogue has the power to change things upside down. The youth of Pakistan has the potential to work as one of the agents for change; they can prove to be an important part of this dialogue.

Apart from bringing a change in the system, the issue of conflict resolution also needs to be addressed. Pakistan is in a state of constant conflicts with its neighbours and a number of internal ones. In this age of globalisation, one should address the conflicts and indentify the problems. Our problem is that we start the process of conflict resolution without even identifying the problem. Bangladesh, once our part, seceded from us in 1971 but no effort was made to stop this secession nor was the conflict addressed in a proper manner. For closure, Bangladesh wants our apology which is not too outlandish to ask for from their perspective. If the government is not up for an apology, at least a dialogue process can be started. Here the youth can also work better than most of the others. If someone has to take initiative for a dialogue, why not youth? Let’s keep politics out of this matter and see the results. Our youth can get in touch with the youth of Bangladesh and get to know their perception and then after having a dialogue, the issue should be taken on the state level. Things might actually turn up positively after this attempt.

Youth has an opportunity to prove their worth, and not just the one they had in elections. If they work hard, their agenda is positive and they have a vision, a positive change should not be out of reach. Not all is black and white, so to speak. Much is grey still, and that’s where the youth has a chance to prove their worth.

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