ISLAMABAD: Only 25 per cent of youth on electoral rolls otherwise having the potential to tip the scales in many constituencies exercise their right to vote, an online symposium was told on Tuesday.

In the symposium organised by the Youth Parliament Pakistan, “Why young people don’t vote in Pakistan?”, the participants discussed how young people were reluctant to participate in the electoral processes.

Bilal Gilani, Executive Director Gallup Pakistan, spoke on the youth turnout in the general elections and said one fourth of the youth normally cast their votes in Pakistan while the rest chose to stay away from the electoral process.

He said young women normally did not cast votes due to numerous factors such as their mobility constraints and household responsibilities.

He provided an overview of the statistical analysis of youth voter turnout in the past general elections. Mr Gilani said the current eligible youth had witnessed the downfall of the country’s economy and the peak of terrorist activities which had made them resilient but still sceptical about the electoral system.

The symposium was opened by Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Pildat President. He shed light on the significance of youth voters in Pakistan.

Amna Kausar, projects manager Pildat and coordinator Youth Parliament Pakistan, gave an overview of the 17th Youth Parliament Pakistan which is in the process of receiving expressions of interest and selecting 300-900 young individuals belonging to 272 National Assembly constituencies, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and overseas Pakistanis.

Nighat Siddique, Additional Director General Gender and Social Inclusion Wing, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), spoke on young voters on electoral rolls and initiatives to improve the youth voter turnout.

She provided an overview of pilot projects to assess youth voter turnout in KP and how ECP was trying to extend it towards other universities.

She said the ECP was trying its best to reach out to the grassroots level community and to encourage their participation in the elections.

She also shed light on how the ECP had made the electoral process inclusive for people with disabilities, marginalised youth and women.

The age-wise data of voters recently released by the ECP showed that the proportion of voters below the age of 35 years was 45.84PC, placing them in a position where their active participation has the potential of tilting scales in favour of candidates of their choice in many constituencies.

Of the total 121 million voters, 55.57m are in the age bracket of 18 to 35 years whereas their number was slightly above 46m (43.82pc) in the 2018 elections.

Among these young voters (45.84pc), 31.98m or 26.38pc are in the age group of 26 to 35 years, while 23.58m or 19.46pc individuals are aged between 18 and 25 years.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2021

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