The young today, usually, do take suggestions but they don’t like taking directions. This is a religious country. Made in the name of religion as well as, for the freedom to practice one’s own religion, predominantly, Islam. Ever since the conception, till this date, we have, read, heard and seen, with all due respect, a lot of conflicts in the vision of Mr  Jinnah and Clerics, till it came to the question of culture and ideals. Still, it will be elusive to find a testimony to a cultural norm that does not comply with religion itself in the first place, though, not impossible.

The cultural tightness is ubiquitous, with its low tolerance of deviant behavior, along with a culture of strongly held beliefs. But, culture is not something we possess rather it is what we ‘act’. None-the-less, majority of our youth does identify conforming to society’s norms to be beneficial to their personal interests. But such a surrender is less prevalent in men comparative to women. In latter, the consequence of guilt vs compliance, is dominated by the level of stress it implies.

Historically, the shaping of Pakistani culture started with, the western culture superiority, from Ayub till Bhutto’s regime. Leading to the rethinking and revamping of religious zest of Zia, up-to the, hide and seek of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, with liberal vs conservative, followed by globalization and enlightened modernization of Musharraf and acceleration and deceleration, of global values and cultures, with the resistance of clerics and conservatives. It’s a mess.

But arriving upon the current issues and breaking it down to the culturally rich city of Lahore. Let’s take an arduous walk through the events of last one month.

We have seen a raid on a high-end café, where alcohol was being served to, young and adult costumers. The raid resulted in multiple arrests followed by strict restrictions with implementation on alcohol quotas, transits and consumption.

A private university announced segregation of males and females students in classroom. Such instances of regulations, have also been practiced in the past as well from the same university where a 6-inch gap was mandated as an ‘intersex physical distance’.

This is an antecedent to the actions of another government university, in Lahore that has instructed the cafeterias to have separate sitting for male and female students.

But just to bring things into congruent prospective, it all took speed, after the explicit videos young movie goers in cinema, got leaked online. Though, it was heavily criticized on social media but a fraction of community took it as an opportunity to hit back on the freedom of liberals.

Pakistan is a developing country undergoing rapid transition, whether it be the effect of globalization or declining economy. The government and policymakers have underestimated the presence of social issues and resulting public health impact on the upcoming generation in schools and colleges where mental health problems are growing challenge, which is reflected in the low levels of investment in youth’s mental health services, particularly within the community and education setups. Young students in Pakistan are just as much at risk of mental health problems as those in many other developed and developing countries. Particularly in the context of unstable conditions, terrorism war, conflicts and political turmoil, here is a need for increased investment in training and recognition of behavioral problems. This can further lead to prevention or early interventions, thus reducing the disease burden in this population.

To conclude, there are many facets to the current scenario, on which we have to seriously invest in, especially in understanding the complex nature of what is in front of us and what is ahead of us. The risk, for our youth, to be dis-empowered and suppressed, is high. Where there is more chance of leading them in a downward spiral, where they will most certainly lose their identity and individualism, which is important and integral for their growth and journey towards adulthood in modern age.

Teaching the young to hate pleasure or fear pain is not the solution, as nature does it already. Instilling principles is not easy either. You need to command respect and inspire, but first you need a vision! It is appreciative of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government to plan introducing psychologists in schools and colleges. Let it be the first step in right direction, across the board, with confidence and clarity. None-the-less, impounding freedom of youth to think and assess, with instances of recent strict rules and regulations, in long run, it will be elusive to find a resolution to long standing challenge of developing a great nation envisioned by Mr Jinnah. Lahore needs to make a historical turn in respect to its rich cultural history and follow suit to KP government.