Lahore, July 17: PILDAT and UNDP Pakistan organized a ‘Youth Dialogue on Democratic and Peaceful Governance and Sustainable Development’ in which representatives of five major political parties of Pakistan engaged with youth representatives in a robust discussion on how to bring together a cross-section of Pakistan’s youth to interact with key political parties, decision makers including Governments, elected representatives, think tanks, citizens groups and media on a number of themes.
Senior parliamentarians, political leaders, academics, and media analysts who joined the dialogue included Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt, PML-N; Ms. Faiza Malik, PPP; Mian Usman Javed, JI; Mr. Walid Iqbal, PTI, and Mr. Rizwan Mumtaz Ali, PML. Youth speakers included Ms. Anoosha Shaigan, VP Courting the Law/Former Member Youth Parliament Pakistan (YPP), Ms. Waiza Rafique, Advocate/Former Member Youth Provincial Assembly Pakistan (YPAP), Mr. Osama Rizvi, Writer/Editor, Ms. Maryam Hayat, Barrister/Activist, Mr. Usman Jatoi, Lawyer, Mr. Abdul Ahad, Former Member YPAP, Mr. Abdullah Mustafa, Coordinator National Entrepreneurship Program, Ms. Mariam Hassan Naqvi, Former Member YPAP and Ms. Anum Tariq Khan, Former Member YPAP and Ms. Rimmel Mohydin.
Ms. Aasiya Riaz, PILDAT Joint Director moderated the dialogue. In his welcome address, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT said Pakistan has one of the highest proportion of youth population in the world. He said it is the need of the day to inspire youth to constructively engage in national affairs including political participation through informed voting based on objective review of party pledges.
Youth representatives highlighted issues in implementation of manifestoes, demanded quality education and employment, more sports facilities, madrassa reforms, entrepreneurship opportunities and lifting the ban on student unions. They talked of access to fair trail for disabled, rights of non-Muslims and of transgender communities. They also highlighted greater representation opportunities for youth, the ticking time bomb of population, juvenile justice and sexual violence.
Responding on behalf of PML-N, Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt said that PML-N manifesto shared party’s track record from 2013-2018 before highlighting promises and pledges for next term. PML-N had created 2 million jobs and aimed to create 3 million more jobs in the coming term, increased proportion of female students and faculty and allocated three billion rupees to support 1300 PhD students. He also claimed that PML-N had promoted entrepreneurship to support youth jobs in the country.
Ms. Faiza Malik of PPP said PPP focused on eradicating ghost schools from Sindh and party’s aim in the future is to improve quality of education, creation of employment and youth development. She reiterated PPP’s promise to introduce vocational training centers to cater to unemployed youth. She also vowed to bring Youth to bring recognition to youth through talent hunts.
Mr. Walid Iqbal from PTI said the party had delivered on the 2013 promises in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including reforms in education, health, police and local government. Going forward, PTI plans to replicate these reforms across Pakistan.
Mian Usman Javed of JI stressed on the importance of having gender specific courses which can better cater to youth and empower youth through promoting social entrepreneurship programmes, among others.
Mr. Rizwan Mumtaz Ali from PML talked about party’s governance performance from 2002-2007 and said party would reconnect its efforts for creation of jobs, youth development and other national issues.
An interactive discussion ensued following main presentation in which young students, academics, media and civil society representatives stressed on the youth voting and the need for continued monitoring of implementation of manifestoes.
Concluding the dialogue, Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami said that the dialogue provided an important opportunity of interaction, such forums should also be facilitated with top leadership of each political party and youth in the future.