Quetta, Nov 07: What is the future of the Youth of Balochistan in the midst of growing extremism in educational institutions, lack of employment opportunities and an upsetting state of education across the province? With the objective of prioritising the future of the young people of Balochistan, PILDAT and UNDP Pakistan jointly organised and conducted a Youth Dialogue on Democratic, Peaceful Governance and Sustainable Development in Quetta.
Representatives of the provincial government of Balochistan as well as members of opposition political parties in the Balochistan Assembly sat down together to engage with youth representatives belonging to the province.
Acting as Speaker of the House, Mr. Jan Mohammad Jamali MPA, former Speaker Balochistan Assembly, former Deputy Chairman Senate, and former Chief Minister Balochistan, led a forthright and healthy debate on key concerns of the Youth.
In their questions to representatives of the Provincial Government and Opposition, Youth Speakers highlighted issues on unemployment and under-employment, allocation of resources for construction of schools and hiring of human resource, general lack of focus on various aspects of quality education, on-merit selection and appointment of eligible teachers in educational institutions, provision of more effective aid in betterment of co-curricular activities for students, need for effective law enforcement strategies to use in monitoring radicalising of youth, presentation of Balochistan’s unique history and identity in the school curriculums, lack of information on the number and type of job opportunities CPEC may be creating for the youth, lack of promotion of sports and government support, resistance to formation of Student Unions, no encouragement to entrepreneurship so as to counter unemployment and lack of participation of youth in governance and development to combat extremism.
Members of Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, whether from the Government or Opposition, agreed with the issues highlighted by the youth and that it is a need of the hour to invest in the youth development of Pakistan, most importantly Balochistan. It was agreed across the board that the top-most agenda of the current Balochistan Government should be to work on educational reforms at all levels.
Representatives of the Balochistan Government, Opposition and Political Parties who joined the Dialogue included Mr. Jan Muhammad Buledi of National Party, Mr. Nasrullah Zehri MPA of PMAP, Ms. Bushra Rind MPA of BAP, Mr. Sana Baloch MPA of BNP, Mr. Akbar Mengal, MPA of BNP, Mr. Raza Wakeel of HDP, Mr. Shahid Babar MPA of BNP-A, Mr. Malik Sikander Khan, MPA of MMA and Mr. Zahoor Buledi MPA of BAP, Balochistan Provincial Minister for Higher Education.
Youth speakers included Ms. Saima Khan, Masters Psychology at SBK Women’s University Quetta, Ms. Safia Ibrahim, Student at Balochistan University of I.T., Engineering and Management Sciences, Mr. Kanaan Asif, MPhil Student and Lecturer at University of Balochistan, Mr. Goharam Aslam, Youth Activist and Chairman Baloch Student Organisation, Mir Balach, Masters in Development Studies, York University Canada, Member of Board of Directors of Balochistan Institute for Development and CEO/Founder of Gold Coast Fisheries, Mr. Idrees Khan, Student of Tameer-i-Nau Public College, Quetta, Mr. Yaseen Ali, Student at University of Balochistan, Mr. Rafi Kakar, Double Masters from Oxford University, Young Political Analyst advising the Government of Balochistan on CPEC,and Ms. Farida Tareen, Young Assistant Commissioner with Government of Balochistan and former Member Youth Parliament .
In his welcome address, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT said Pakistan is currently one of the youngest countries in the world, and the second youngest in the South Asian region. He highlighted the 3Es summarized by the UNDP Youth Report recently launched that will mark the difference between a youth boom or bust: quality Education, gainful Employment and meaningful Engagement. To address the third E, that is Engagement, PILDAT and UNDP organised this platform, to express their views on state policies and matters of their concern, in an informed and structured manner, and to help them learn how to engage in civilized dialogue on contentious issues.
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Yusra Qadir, Youth Engagement Specialist from UNDP appreciated the enthusiasm and energy of the Baloch youth and urged the participants to use the UN Human Development Report as an advocacy and policy tool. She thanked the political leadership, audience and PILDAT for their efforts in making the event such a success.