Never discount the importance of youth in a country’s progress and prosperity, for it’s this segment of society that is the lifeblood of a country’s sociopolitical system. Why then, in our country youth only connotes the violent packs of street hood, gun-totting and reckless rebels. Isn’t youth supposed to be the key ingredient in all the operations of state?
Perhaps the apparent reason, why youth and immaturity are equated is a serious lack of efforts in channeling and injecting the brimming intelligence and vitality in the youth into the system. The sincerity and beaming energy that our youth embodies may change the fate of this collapsing country and take it towards betterment and boom.
Invited to a formal discussion with youth on the Pak-US relations and how Pakistan should react to the attack on its armed forces , I had barely imagined the intellectual and crisp discussion waiting ahead. The conference was organized by Pakistan People’s Party (Shaheed Bhutto) to elicit student’s opinion on the matter. It felt really nice to find someone cared about what our youth thinks on it amidst all the scholarly and expert discussions staged on talk shows, where the lenses used to view a situation and propose solutions are very old and blurry. The despondent state of
affairs we hear from the old school only pushes us rather takes us out of the depressive state that needs to be remedied. The audacious, self-critical maturity and incisive commentary over the state of affairs was thoroughly enlightening as well as refreshing.
Some of the points raised in the forum by the very vocal and headstrong youth were:
- Why is it that the death of more than 6000 commoners could not elicit such a severe and scathing response from the government and the armed forces the way the martyrdom of 24 soldiers did? Is the blood of a common man in Pakistan cheaper than the blood of their guardians? Why then it took such a long time to come up with a reaction that should have come when we were first bombed years back?
- Was boycotting the Bonn conference a good idea after all? Why not go to he conference, register a strong protest, tear off resolutions, rather than sitting home and weeping silently on the insult on our sovereignty and statehood?
- Is this a ‘lollypop’ given by the state to palliate and mislead its people into believing we are finally playing the game on our terms and will not stand for an attack on our people and army? Is it just an attempt to bolster our confidence on our government and military? And how long will it take us to lapse back to being the traditional, die-hard ally of the United States?
- Why in this parasitic bond, we claim to be on the giving end of the equation only, especially when our ‘leaders’ if not us, have earned heavy aids and monetary support from the US. In fact, is this a master-slave relationship under the cover ‘Friendship’, if not, why have we been too reluctant and frail in our retaliation against such violations?
- Is our government exacting some sort of a revenge on us by beating us with our own banner of democracy-which indeed is the best revenge!
Heated, productive and I must add daring discussions echoed in the huge hall of 70 Clifton, with Ms. Ghinwa Bhutto presiding over the meeting. Where the etiquettes of discussion were well taken care of, objectivity and dauntlessness in responses were also made sure of, with only a slight intimidation in the presence of the party chairperson and the deputy General Secretary. The resolution reached and unanimously accepted by all was:
1) Pakistan stands for being a member of the comity of nations. Pakistan is an independent and sovereign nation which must break the shackles of dominance of other countries specially the United States of America.
2) Afghanistan should be left free to take decisions about their future government. Pakistan should forever remain friendly with all neighbors especially Afghanistan.
The novelty and success of the forum was because youth was allowed the privilege to play God -thanks to the members of the party, unlike the usual snubbing of youth’s opinion and voice we witness at other forums. The keenness, the exuberance and brave views of the youth may have sounded naïve to some, are in fact a beacon light for all those to follow whose abject opinion has only helped maintain the rusty status quo of the situation.
Concluding with Rachel Jackson who rightly puts it,
“Our youth are not failing the system; the system is failing our youth. Ironically, the very youth who are being treated the worst are the young people who are going to lead us out of this nightmare.”