ISLAMABAD, Nov 9: Economic insecurity, high unemployment rates and absence of rule of law are bigger worries than terrorism with the youth of Pakistan.

This view emerged at the first Policy Dialogue Forum between the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) and the youth of the country held at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). The British Council, under its Active Citizens' Programme, organised the event as a follow-up on 'the next generation report' that it published last year. Many youth parliamentarians and between 100 and 150 young Pakistanis attended the forum.

The report stated that 36 million new jobs had to be created in the next 10 years. The past had disillusioned the youth so much that only 15 per cent felt that the country was heading in the right direction and one in 10 expected an improvement in the near future. The biggest complaints included disregard of merit, absence of legal protection for the youth and uncertainty about their careers and future.

Fatima Rizwi, who graduated from the Lahore School of Economics earlier this year, and was still looking for a job, commented: “So many youngsters are unemployed even after completing 16 years of education. While they do want an end to suicide bombing and terrorism in Pakistan, their daily lives revolve more around trying to find a job than trying to stay safe. With high inflation and absence of opportunities in the country, personal safety has almost become a secondary issue.”

Maham Ali, a student activist, said: “It is high time that our society realised the importance of controlling corruption, an issue that has been demoralising our nation. The youth see corruption as a sanctuary of denial of opportunity. A nation's progress depends on appreciating hard work and meritocracy and not what connections your family has sustained. We must all play our part in countering corruption.”

The youth concerns seemed to have met rhetoric from YPF represented by a diverse group of young members of National Assembly comprising Asiya Nasir (MMA), Sheikh Waqas Akram (PML-Q), Anushe Rahman (PML-N), Nabeel Gondal (PPP) and Donya Aziz (chair YPF).

The panel realised the importance of eliminating corruption and stressed the involvement of all corridors of the country. They emphasised the need for serious political will and sustained effort by civil society working hands-in-hands with the government to build a better Pakistan.

Addressing his guests, Executive Board Member of British Council Mark Robson said: “We will continue to link the parliamentarians with the young people of Pakistan and relay to the policy makers what the key issues of the youth are.”

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