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> Ghazi advises youth to take a considered position in the on-going battle of ideas. 'Don't just sit on the margins'

February 28, 2013


Islamabad, February 28; What does it mean to be young in Pakistan?” This was the question posed by Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Senior Analyst and Member, PILDAT’s Democracy Assessment Group, while concluding his speech in an interactive and candid roundtable discussion on “Youth and Democracy”, with members of the 5th batch of the Youth Parliament Pakistan.


Mr. Saladhuddin said that Youth Parliament’s members, who are privileged enough to have been enrolled for undergraduate studies in a country where tertiary-level enrolment is below 10%, need to identify who they are and what their country is about. They need to visit various places of Pakistan, meet the people, explore the country’s problems and suggest remedies for addressing those.


He encouraged the members to draw a fact sheet on Pakistan, enlisting both its highs and lows. For instance, Pakistan is the seventh most populous country in the world, which, he said, can go either way. He also advised that youth, irrespective of their professional and academic background, must read fiction, and inform themselves with a correct sense of history of the world and its ideas, including democracy, around which the roundtable was organized.


Speaking about the barriers to democracy, Mr. Salahuddin said that the greatest barriers on the way towards democracy are those items which we identify with feudalism or tribalism. “It is for you to make Pakistan safe for democracy,” he reminded the members of Youth Parliament drawn from across the country.


Pakistan belongs to you and you belong to Pakistan, no matter which image the country has. “One word which the youth needs to understand is: empathy,” he said.


Members of the Youth Parliament actively took part in the discussion. They shared that there is a confusion on the definition and identification of culture of the country, to which Mr. Salahuddin said that it is wrong to consider one’s culture as inferior, but it is equally incorrect to consider it as superior.


Earlier, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, shared that PILDAT had carried out an assessment of the quality of democracy in the country. The idea, he shared, was to know as to how democracy and democratic institutions have been performing in the country.


Mr. Ismail Khan, Projects Manager PILDAT, in his presentation on the report on quality of democracy in the country, shared that whereas democratic processes have strengthened in Pakistan over the past 5 years, their ultimate effect on the performance of democracy is far from satisfactory.


The Roundtable on “Democracy and Youth” was held by PILDAT under the Project “Supporting Monitoring of Democracy, Electoral Reforms and Development of Youth in Pakistan” which is supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Government of Denmark.