According to the recent statistics by the Election Commission of Pakistan, out of a population of 207.8 million people only 97 million are registered as voters. The number of young people between 18-35 age group who are registered is 42.4 million. Thus, young people constitute 44 percent of all the registered voters in the country.

Furthermore, describing the share of Sindh in the total population of the country, the ECP Statistics show that the lowest ratio of youngest voters is in Sindh i.e only 2.6 million out of the 20.6 million voters come from the province. However, Sindh shares the highest ratio of voters 4.7 millions aged 36-45 years that is the 23 percent of the total electorate in Sindh .

Actually, the data aforementioned about the share of youth voters in Sindh is contrary to the fact. Therefore, I would like to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to some facts with regard to the change in youth demographic of Sindh . The fact is that, during the days when general elections are close in the country, the politicians send representatives mostly feudal lords, to the rural are who come into action in their constituencies which are no less than principalities. They manage to bring the farmers including males, females and teenagers to the NADRA centers to get their CNICs so that their vote bank must increase. The teens, who are under eighteen years, do not qualify for the ID Card as per requirements, are registered illiterate with the artificial addition of three to five years to their real date so that they can get their ID card.

This practice has been very common in the rural areas of Sindh for the last three general elections held successively in the country from Musharraf Era. In addition to that, the NADRA Mobile Van Service provided to the poor free of cost on the Otaq (guest-room) of a Wadera (Landlord) especially during the election days to entice the poor parents to avail the free opportunity to get CNICs. Thus, the reason behind all this is poverty and unawareness and the parents are also equally involved in that practice of making false extension to the age of their children at the behest of local lords. Consequently, this devastating phenomenon causes the youth demographic change in Sindh that is very detrimental to the multi-dimensions of the society. For instance, during the 2017 Census, there were many such cases observed in the rural vicinity of Sindh wherein the parents cried for their teens that were issued ID Cards depicting them illiterate and overage unmatched to their educational certificates. Such malpractices jeopardize the future of youth in Sindh and as per misinformation in the CNICs, boys are considered overage and illiterate when they apply for any job. They fail to justify their qualifications in such situations. Besides, girls remain unmarried due to the age factor shown in the Cards in false extension. I have seen many cases of the same sort in my community as well.

So, it is plea, on behalf of all the affectees of the country in general and Sindh in particular, made to the ECP, NADRA as well as government of Sindh to form a comprehensive policy to resolve the problem and take stern steps against this malpractice to happen again in the coming 2018 elections.

ABID SIKANDAR KHOKHAR,

Naudero, October 23.