Pakistan is described as a ‘young country’ with a bright future, given opportunity for self-development. Its population between age group 15–64 years is 60.4% (male 60,766,105 and female 56,886,961). Its population in age group 0-14 years is 35.4 per cent (male 35,475,647 / female 33,586,757). If we add the percentages, the youth percentage comes to whopping 95.8 per cent. The population of age 65 and over is just 4.2 per cent (male 3,890,840 / female 4,325,538) (Jan. 2017 estimates). 

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People of consent age in the industrially-advanced countries prefer to stay single, or go without liability of children or a large family for fear of losing material comforts in current life. So is not the case here. 

Children in Pakistan are considered a blessing without caring a fig about their future. ‘A child is born with two hands and one mouth’. Sans a national healthcare or educational system, lives our youth are being wasted. The political parties and their leaders pay only lip service to meeting basic needs of the people. 

Participation in the so-called war on terror, allowed and nurtured by military dictators, ‘justified’ usurpation of utility plots, playgrounds, gymnasia and parks. Where is the Stadium Park near GHQ, and gymnasium and swimming pool near Dilkusha Bagh near Military Hospital in Rawalpindi? Blue Lagoon and Race Course tracks are not affordable to civilians. For fear of insecurity, mothers even forbid children to attend prayers in mosques. 

As such, our youth have become video-gaming addicts. This addiction has been classified by World Health Organisation as a ‘mental disorder’. The classification is meant to alert healthcare professionals and hospital systems to ensure ‘that people suffering from these conditions can get appropriate help’ (wonder alert is meaningful in a country where children are born at hospital gates or newborns die for want of emergency help, not in Thar alone). 

The WHO describes the addiction as a ‘pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour’ that becomes so extensive it ‘takes precedence over other life interests’. Gaming disorder leads to disturbed sleep patterns, diet problems and deficiency in physical activities. 

Will authorities wake up to paralysis of Pakistan’s torch bearers of a bright future? 

MOHAMMAD ASAD MALICK, 

Rawalpindi, June 19.