Consultative Session on the Importance of Youth Participation in the Electoral Processes of Pakistan at the Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar


October 12: A consultative session with the students and faculty of the Institute of Management Sciences (IM Sciences) Peshawar was held at their Research & Seminar Block. Mr. Saeed Khan, Regional Election Commissioner Peshawar and Mr. Shoaib Khan, Election Officer represented the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) at the consultative session.

Mr. Faheem Ahmed Khan, Senior Projects Manager PILDAT, welcomed the participants and introduced the panel members. The panel members included Dr. Amer Taj Coordinator and Professor of Public Policy at, the Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar, Mr. Saeed Khan Regional Election Commissioner Peshawar, Mr. Shoaib Khan, Election Officer, Election Commission of Pakistan,Mr. Sameer Rasool, Youth Representative and Ms. Hafsa Hameed, Youth Representative.

During his presentation, Mr. Faheem Ahmed Khan, Senior Projects Manager PILDAT 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 electoral processes. 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.

The Youth Representative, Mr. Sameer Rasool, said that young people lack faith in the democratic process. Despite being heavily involved in the campaigns, youth say they have no plans to actually vote. He advocated that ECP provide incentives for voting.  

Ms. Hafsa Hameed, Youth Representative, in her comments, suggested that we should move towards compulsory voting and legislation should be done to make casting of vote mandatory.  

Mr. Saeed Khan, Regional Election Commissioner Peshawar, addressing the participants explained the efforts made by the Election Commission of Pakistan in order to create awareness amongst the youth about their voting rights and the importance of their vote. He explained the voting process in detail and explained how the whole process is kept transparent and fairness is ensured. Furthermore, he expressed that ECP is giving equal opportunities to everyone to participate in the electoral process of Pakistan.

Mr. Amer Taj, an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Coordinator at the Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar, emphasized the significance of youth engagement in politics. He noted that while young individuals possess ample opportunities to actively participate in political affairs, a prevailing challenge lies in their limited understanding and awareness regarding their civic responsibilities and entitlements. He emphasized the need to foster knowledge among young people about the principles of democracy and the significance of participating in the electoral process. Mr. Taj expressed the opinion that it is essential for youth to have a personal interest in electoral processes as a means to instigate transformative change.

The session was attended by a total of 261 students out of which 76 (29%) were young women and 185 (79%) 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.