The political engagement of youth in educational institutes

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Although the current government in Pakistan is based on a parliamentary system, the country has never had a static government system with democracy being threatened by martial laws and the tumultuous politics of Pakistan. The country initially had a parliamentary form of government (a type of democracy where the party with most seats in Parliament forms the government), and then shifted to Presidential system (a system whereby people directly elect the President who is the head of government) with the 1962 constitution. The parliamentary system was once again adopted according to the 1973 constitution, which holds to date.

Be it Parliamentary or Presidential system, political participation by citizens is the cornerstone of all successful democratic societies. This is particularly important in countries with a large youth population, the major asset of any country, as they are the future. Young people stepping forward and being involved in the democratic process is instrumental for creating a peaceful environment and a responsive political structure, which is important for the betterment of the country.

However, it is observed that the involvement of the young generation does not match up into effective youth participation. Reason being that instead of complementing the activism by young people or to provide the youth with a constructive status and a platform to participate in the democratic process of the country, Pakistan has been more inclined towards the disintegration of political space for youth. Young people should be provided with a platform from where they can become politicians or present their demands before democratically elected representatives because youth can demonstrate issues of the country as well as demand for the rights of other citizens by their relation to educational environment and learning process.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of the Aligarh Movement who was ranked among the greatest Muslim of the reformers of the 19th century, played a significant role for the education of Muslims. The Aligarh Movement was made a weighty and lasting contribution to the political emancipation of Indian Muslims when after the war of independence the condition of the Muslims of India was very miserable as the British fell more on the Muslims and tried to manipulate the rights of Muslims. Observing such conditions, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan came forward and tried to help the Muslims to come out from such deplorable and miserable conditions. He did so by guiding the Muslims towards the right path and attempted to draw out the Muslims from such helpless conditions. His emphasis was on raising the young Muslims into well-educated, politically aware and active members of the society. He also encouraged the young Muslims to sit for civil service examinations etc.

Consequently, the student power left its footprint in Islamia College Peshawar, established in 1913, where the students played a key role in the completion of the challenging mission towards education, by following the dream of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent. This dream was fulfilled in the shape of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, and on students’ demand. Quaid stated that the establishment of a quality university in Peshawar city was a dream to his heart, which would be great center of highlighting Muslims ethics, culture and learning from where the rays of knowledge and culture can spread throughout the nation.

In recent years, Pakistan has seen an exponential increase in the engagement of young people in politics. The young people who are politically conscious and increasingly expressive about their rights and needs have been increasing in number and it is estimated that almost 46% of Pakistan’s total electorate comprises of youth. While the transition towards permanent representative bodies, to formally channelize the energy and dynamism of young people, is still underway in the political system, the political system has largely started to attract younger voters through traditional (membership drives) and non-traditional (social media) means to match up with the mentality of young generation or gain more followers.

In the educational institutes of the country, each individual is independent to stand for the country’s issues and for the participation of the youth in political affairs of the existing system of education by providing them with enough opportunities to pay their involvement in political engagement. Education system prepares the youth with a vision and equips them with the skills needed to handle real-life situations, including issues related to communities, governance, volunteerism and human rights while giving them a direction as to how they can play a role in the issues faced by their developing country. The issues such as poverty, water crisis, uneducated rural areas, etc.

Educational institutions of the country are the main platform towards a bright future of youth as well as for the country. Initially, when a student gets into an educational system, he/she would be automatically enrolled in political affairs and their first step towards it would be to stand up for a good quality of education.

Pakistan is a democratic state where every youth has a right towards education, to a reasonable standard of living, and to choose and influence the political leadership because they are entitled to an equal right of political participation just as any other age group of the country.

In Pakistan, according to the census of 2019, youth represents 60 percent of the total population which cannot be neglected, but their voice is largely unrepresented in the political system. The population of youth is not only a dynamic source of innovation and creativity but has a contribution in several fields like highlighting many extracurricular activities where youth perform better than our politicians.

It is must that the youth has to be offered to participate in politics and their thoughts should be respected and represented for a country’s bright future. Neglecting the youth means leaving them with nothing but misleading ideas about what the state is, what a citizen’s rights and responsibilities are and what the responsibilities of an individual towards the state are.

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