By S. M. Hali
The youth is considered to be the future of a nation. History is replete with examples of the youth being the driving force behind change. In contemporary history, the Arab Spring was brought about by the vitality of the youth. Youth has the potential to revive a nation going through hard time. Youth is the human resource, if optimally utilized, can turn a nation around and surmount trials and tribulations.
If ever Pakistan was in need of a vital force to steer it through the choppy waters, it is now. Fortunately Pakistan is blessed with highly motivated, incredibly talented and passionate youth, imbibed with the urge to realize its potential.
Realizing the strength of the youth, the forces of evil prevalent in the society are attempting to radicalize the youth by wooing them to participate in their heinous agenda of terrorism. Some youth, who were either misled through their lack of knowledge or were exploited by their sense of deprivation, have already fallen prey to the terror mongers. Some adopted the extreme course of becoming suicide bombers, while others have been engaged in participating in the macabre plots hatched by the miscreants to destabilize Pakistan. The prevailing chaos and unrest in the country acted as a catalyst to further the recruitment drive of the terrorists in ensnaring the innocent youth of Pakistan.
It is imperative to provide balanced guidance to our youth enabling them to follow the correct path and make positive contributions for the well being of Pakistan. Some immediate steps that need to be taken to deradicalize the youth and provide them balanced guidance are: the educational institutions should develop balanced curriculum and guidance system to inspire the youth and lead them to play their role as the backbone of the nation. In this regard, teachers must act as role models, setting personal examples in every decision making process.
Utmost emphasis must be given to the moulding of character. A system must be developed to enhance character building capacity. This entails formulation of behavior monitoring mechanism. Students must become active participants of monitoring schemes encouraging rule of law, learning leadership tasks and offering meaningful and positive criticism.
The youth must be enabled to appreciate and respect merit. A sense of positive competition must be inculcated among students. The tender age of youth makes them susceptible to yield to temptations of immorality and indulgence in moral turpitude. Character building must also pay due attention to the resistance of the youth, building bulwarks against the urge of yielding to temptations. This is a major challenge since the advent of social media and World Wide Web has also brought the murky world of enticement and inducement in our homes.
Educational institutions must launch de-radicalization campaigns to enable the students to become better citizens. At the same time extra liberals must also be guided through balanced grooming to show respect to own social norms and learn traditional values.
Teachers and educational institutions must be able to mould their students into refined individuals capable of analyzing any issue, construing relevant conclusions and taking correct decisions. Sense of compassion and mental capacity to tolerate dissent must be inculcated amongst the young students. Such grooming would make them responsible and useful citizens of Pakistan.
A major challenge to the entire society is lack of tolerance. It has been observed that intolerance and extremism directly contribute towards terrorism. Religious intolerance and bigotry has permeated in the Pakistani society to such an extent that disagreement of views is construed as a terrible crime and dissent leads to murder and elimination. The powers that be at Islamabad need to get their act together, if they are serious about eradicating the society of the scourge of religious and ethnic intolerance and empowering the youth to adopt tolerance, they require to put in place a concerted effort, which should be based on a well thought out strategy. The need of the hour is to muster the support of credible opinion builders, which includes members of the clergy, media, academia as well as the judiciary. One of the first steps would be to re-examine the harsh and stringent laws which have empowered the extremists and provide them a whiplash to attack the hapless victims in the garb of purging the society of evildoers.
Despondency in the youth has been caused due to the all pervasive corruption, bad governance and lack of employment opportunities for the youth. Provision of right opportunities, social justice, balanced guidance and respect for merit are the key factors to put the youth on right path. Family background, peer group interactions and grooming treasures of educational institutions play a vital role in character building, attaining professional grace, developing positive attitude and acquiring sense of compassion.
The current milieu in Pakistan comprises economic, social and political turmoil, worsening law and order situation. There are demonstrations and strikes, brutalities and blight that affect hundreds every day. In such a chaos there is still a ray of hope, providing a sanguine attitude, because there is a huge responsibility lying on the young generation’s shoulders, towards nation building. To bring the state of affairs back on track the youth has to play its proactive role to help stem the rot, change things for better, and to revive the state of affairs from getting worse.
Youth participation in governance related issues is essential to strive for developing a society devoid of corruption. The socio-political culture of Pakistan can benefit immensely by the participation of the youth in the national affairs of Pakistan. First and foremost, the youth should be motivated to cast their vote, acquire memberships of student unions and pressure groups, which can mobilize and advocate their point of view through contributions in the press and social media. A sense of responsibility among all the citizens and among the youth in specific can trigger change towards a tolerant and peaceful society. Thus the deradicalization of the youth and moulding the inchoate mass in evolving a reformed society, is actually investing in the future of the nation.
A recommended read” Pakistan De-Radiclaization of Society