Consultative Session on the Importance of Youth Participation in the Electoral Processes of Pakistan at Quaid-e Azam University Islamabad


October 09: A consultative session with the students and faculty of the Quaid-e Azam University (QAU) Islamabad was held at their central library. Mr. Haroon Shinwari, Additional Director General Monitoring, Media Coordination and Outreach and Ms. Nighat Siddiqui, Additional Director General, Gender and Social Inclusion represented the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) at the consultative session.

Dr. Amanat Ali, Director Student Affairs welcomed the participants and thanked PILDAT and UNDP for organizing the session on the Importance of youth’s participation in the electoral processes of Pakistan. He highlighted how youth can act as agents of change and can strengthen the democratic norms in the country by participating in the electoral processes of Pakistan.

Mr. Faheem Ahmed Khan, Senior Projects Manager PILDAT, welcomed the participants and introduced the panel members. The panel members included Ms. Rimsha Rehman, Youth Representative, Mr. Naveed Akhtar, Youth Representative, Dr. Amanat Ali, Director Student Affairs QAU, Mr. Haroon Shinwari Additional Director General Monitoring, Media Coordination and Outreach ECP and Ms. Nighat Siddiqui, Additional Director General, Gender and Social Inclusion ECP

During his presentation, Mr. Faheem Ahmed Khan discussed the demographic distribution of registered voters in Pakistan, highlighting that 45% of the total registered voters belong to the age group of 18-35 years. Additionally, he provided a comparative analysis of the voting behaviors shown by the young populations of Pakistan and India. Notably, the youth voter participation in India surpassed the overall voter turnout seen in the most recent Indian elections. The panelists agreed that low youth voter participation was a genuine problem, not a myth. They gave explanations for the low voter participation, one of which was that young voters did not trust the electoral system and hence did not participate in the election. Concerns were raised about the lack of confidence among young voters in the voting system. In addition, they emphasized the fact that young individuals had little knowledge of the procedures involved in registering to vote or casting a ballot.

Ms. Rimsha Rehman, the Youth Representative, expressed concern that youth in Pakistan do not see voting as a fundamental civic duty. She urged all the young people present to use their democratic right to vote. Mr. Naveed Akhtar, a Student of International Relations stressed that dynastic politics is driving youth away from the electoral processes of Pakistan.

Mr. Haroon Shinwari, Regional Director General ECP, in his remarks, elaborated on the efforts the election commission was making for voter awareness, especially for the youth. He mentioned that awareness workshops are being held in every district of Pakistan to motivate the voters with a key focus on youth. He shared that 1750 awareness workshops have so far been conducted by ECP.

Ms. Nighat Siddiqui, Additional Director General of the Election Commission of Pakistan, emphasized in her comments the significance of voting in order to bring about the change that youth want to see.

The session was attended by a total of 67 students out of which 25 (37%) were young women and 43 (63%) were young men.

Following the panel discussion, students enthusiastically participated in a mock polling exercise and cast their votes. The students were eager to experience the democratic process firsthand and engage in meaningful discussions about the topics presented during the panel discussion. The mock polling exercise allowed them to actively participate in shaping their opinions and understanding the importance of voting in a democratic society.