Dr Irfan Raja
A twenty two years long struggle of dreaming, changing and building a new Pakistan has come true. Yeah the Dawn of a new Pakistan- a prosperous and just Pakistan where everyone will be an equal-we wish! Austerity, reforms and Rule of law, was the key ingredients of Imran Khan’s maiden speech that is well received at home and in abroad- He is right to say that changing our mindset will change Pakistan because that is our way of life. For many critics, the #change or #tabdeeli discourse is debatable and contested one but for several others it has brought a beacon of light for millions of Pakistanis at home and in abroad.
Fairly speaking it is too early to speculate that whether or not Imran Khan will supervise his team to deliver his gigantic promises? So far it seems not less then to conquer K-2 in extreme weather conditions. The big question is that whether or not Khan will be able to do justice and foster equality in a society that is heavily influenced under the strong grip of feudalism and industrialism. This comes to mind when you think of cabinet ministers mostly old faces, rich and privileged. We can ask the question that where are the youth, unprivileged and minorities’ in this new government? For example, will there be a youth affairs ministry? for that we will have to wait and see!
For many years, Imran Khan had wowed to bring change and being impressed by the Medina model that guarantees justice, equality and humanity. The world waits with eagernessto see how Khan delivers hispledgewhat he described as, “I want to see… look, my inspiration is the Prophet Muhammad, the city of Medina that he founded, how it was based on humanity”. Agreed! It’s a full package that assures the rights of women and children, minorities’ protection and freedom to follow their religion, equality, justice and peace. Looking at present day UK or the Canadian model it makes no surprise to many like Imran Khan that the system of governance resembles with early Muslims periods that were based on Medina model.
Evidently, long before the creation of present day Canada there are now more Sikhs at the highest levels of government (Canada has now has the world’s most Sikh cabinet,) the Umayyad Muslim rulers of Spain, the Ottomans Sultans of three continents and the Mughals Emperors in the Indian sub-continent had appointed Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus on high ranks in their governments. A successfully tried and tested practice that could enhance confidence among minority groups and alsobinds our society together- Shouldn’t we have a Sikh or a Christian deputy foreign minister and how about a non-Muslim trade or a cultural minister in the cabinet? Go for change go for it.
Next, think of the Pakistani youth and think of PTI- Junoon or say passion is a word that describes millions of young people of Pakistan. Yeah that’s right- Of all the total 16.8 million votes held by the PTI in 2018 elections that is almost double than its 7.6 million in 2013 elections majority votes are of youth age between 18-30. The Sun newspaper memorable front page headline It’s The Sun Wot Won It(11 April 1992) that marked the victory of the Conservatives in 1992 general elections perfectly fits in case of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insafvictory in 2018 as if by a little modification as: “It’s The Youth Wot Won It” (No Offense to The Sun).
Today many leading European countries are struggling to raise their young population by offering various incentives to their masses, Pakistan is fortunate to have more than half of its total population that is 63% consists of youth under the age of 25. Of course these young individuals are our national potential. According to the World Bank report Pakistan is now the 6th most populous country on Earth, with half of population younger than 24. What about female population that is more than half of the males? The real challenge ahead for the PTI’s government is to reach out those unprivileged, uneducated and unemployed youths in remote areas.
As a popular slogan says Give Change a Chance-So remember your slogan #tabdeelipti #changepti so go for it give a chance to young people and put some restrictions on after retirement jobs. This may sounds unpleasant but it’s the only answer to put thousands of unemployed young people in jobs. Another challenge for the PTI’s government is to bridge the gap between foreign born Pakistani youth and those born and bred in Pakistan. This is critical because at any stage if those living abroad may choose to come back probably if the government offers them comparative incentives that will boost our social, economic and political standing in the world. Pakistan can learn from the experiences of Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad government in Malaysia that made the best use of its foreign based experts and professional force under Returning Expert Programme in five major sectors including oil, gas and energy, healthcare, financial and professional services. On youth affairs policies recently enacted by Turkey is another best example to follow.
At present many young PhD’s are interested to return to Pakistan taking benefit of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan’s scheme Interim Place of Fresh PhDs but that should be revisited to eradicate any unnecessary hurdles and delays in processing applications. It would be beneficial to extend this offer to all those foreign born Pakistanis whether British, Americans or elsewhere. This would also foster social integration among Pakistani at home and abroad and help minimize the social and cultural gap between youths. Last year, I attended a seminar organised by Common Purpose that aimed to train Pakistani diaspora leaders, to build their capacity to contribute to Pakistan and to the diaspora community in the UK. Organisations like Common Purpose are there to engage and work with to utilise Pakistani youth potential both at home and in abroad.
– The writer is a visiting lecturer at the NUST Media Department and an affiliated researcher at the University of Huddersfield, UK.