November 23; In a Youth Parliament Pakistan organised online symposium titled Why Young People Don’t Vote in Pakistan? participants held an enlightening discussion on how young people are reluctant to participate in the electoral processes, especially casting votes in the previous general elections.
Mr. Bilal Gilani, Executive Director Gallup Pakistan spoke on the topic of Youth Voter Turnout in the General Elections of Pakistan and stressed on the important fact that ¼th of the youth normally cast their votes in Pakistan and not the remaining ¾th. He highlighted that young women normally do not cast votes due to numerous factors such as their mobility constraints and household responsibilities. He further provided an overview of the statistical analysis of youth voter turnout in the past General Elections in Pakistan. Mr. Gilani said that the current eligible youth had witnessed the downfall of the country’s economy and the peak of terrorist activities which had made them resilient but still skeptical about the electoral system.
Ms. Nighat Siddique, Additional Director General, Gender and Social Inclusion Wing ECP spoke on Young Voters in Electoral Rolls and Initiatives to Improve Youth Voter Turnout and highlighted the voter turn-out and the lack of political participation of youth in Pakistan. She provided a comprehensive overview of the pilot projects to assess youth voter turnout in KP and how ECP is trying to extend it towards other universities. She shed light on the research wing which is constantly engaging the youth in training them about the significance of electoral process in Pakistan. She said that ECP is trying its best to reach out to the grassroots level community and to encourage their participation in the elections of Pakistan. She shed light on how ECP has made the electoral process inclusive in Pakistan for people with disabilities, marginalized youth and women.
The symposium was opened by Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT who welcomed the participants and speakers. He also shed light on the topic of the symposium and the significance of youth voters in Pakistan. Ms. Amna Kausar, Projects Manager PILDAT & Coordinator Youth Parliament Pakistan delivered a brief presentation and an overview of the 17th Youth Parliament Pakistan which is in the process of receiving EoIs and selecting 300-900 of the brightest young individuals belonging to 272 National Assembly constituencies, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Overseas Pakistanis.
Mr. Mehboob, in his concluding remarks, highlighted the stark difference of youth voter turnout in Pakistan and India. He emphasized that youth voter turnout in India had exceeded the overall voter turnout in 2014 Lok Sabha election but in Pakistan, Youth Voter turnout is about 15 percentage points behind overall voter turnout. He thanked both the speakers and the participants who made the entire session engaging and interactive.
Participants for the course included civil society actors, academic researchers, businessmen and students from all regions of Pakistan.