Which Way Pakistan Youth?

A recent report commissioned by the British Council reveals an alarming possibility in the coming decades as Pakistan witnesses its population increase by about 85 million. The result will be a society in which millions of young people lack the basis of a modern education and have scant knowledge of the economic factors in a modern society. Millions will have been educated in a Madrassa school which emphasizes religion over such basic concepts as science, math, history or a broad knowledge of literature and the world around them. According to David Steven who helped write the report, “Pakistan is at a crossroads. It can harness the energy of that generation, and collect a demographic dividend. But if they fail to get job s and are poorly educated, it faces a demographic disaster.” The report discovered that only one third of young people believe in the concept of a democratic society, one third supports a society based on Sharia law, and nearly 10% believe a dictatorship is OK.

Fasi Aka, a radio DJ who helped to launch the report, put it this way; “They don’t believe in anything firmly. Maybe they want sharia law, maybe they want democracy. It’s all over the place. But despite this there’s a lot of patriotism. So, it’s not a lost cause.” The real danger is creating a huge underclass of jobless young men and women willing to listen to any demagogue who can blame the rest of the world for the nation’s problems or urge violence as a solution.