Inclusiveness to Youth: The Key to True Democratisation for Pakistan

The average Pakistani political party functions on mainly the same model, constituting of various wings based on gender, professions, trades and even ages, such as lawyer wings, student wings and separate youth wings. Among these wings the youth and student wings are usually the ones that contribute a great amount to the political muscle of the party. Acting as campaigners, organisers, ideological advertisers and conveners in various institutions, the youth wings and affiliated student federations, for several internal and external reasons, are one of the most under accommodated segments of most Pakistani political parties.

In a country where well above half of the population consists over youth, a political model where students and youth wings are campaign fuel and the minimum input on policy matters is generated or facilitated from them to reach party’s top brass, is bound to contribute to the deterioration of the already flimsy notion of democracy.

When observed from grass roots, several issues of our democratic system might be rectified through changes and improvements in party structure and party practices, and owing to the dynamics of Pakistan, not just direct and hasty inculcation of developed democratic ideas such as intra-party elections and shadow cabinets but instead a consistent and steady customisation of those ideas suitable for our currently developing democratic tastes and preferences.

Among various larger revisions required among political parties and affiliated wings, a fundamental change must be brought to the general trend among study circles. Every student activist or anyone who has been involved with such organisations understands that in most units these study circles are not even active and they are even more rare to be regular. Where these study circles are functioning, they seem to be regurgitation of the same literature over and over again, with years old pamphlets and excerpts printed and reprinted, repeated a narrow and set base of slogans and ideologically bound analysis.

Instead of a repeated consumption of the same literature over and over, these study circles may and should be equipped with opportunities to study the issues in the area of jurisdiction of their respective areas and domains. Such humble steps would add to the youth organisation and student federation’s visions and their scope would be expanded from singular and one agenda issues such as the long standing issue of Student Unions, which is generically a central issue through almost all student federations of the country. Such versatile study circles may work as party think tanks that may act as an effective research and feedback mechanism to party centres which in most cases are devoid of ground roots policies and are themselves regurgitating decades old narratives.

In addition to this, youth representation and youth friendly political party structures may prove to be greater contributions to the efficacy and stability of our political system. The introduction of a shadow cabinet to our parliamentary system may be an effective tool to calibrate the political system on track to a more policy oriented and legislative approach. But for Pakistan, the political system must be evolved to meet the needs of the more than 60 per cent youth population and the introduction of such advances must be customised owing to our practical differences from the typical or more developed Westminster model.

In a multi party canvas like that of Pakistan, where the opposition usually carries more than one effective party and specifically after the emergence of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as a third political stake holder in the country’s mainstream, an official shadow cabinet of a singular party would be a great difficulty and practically much harder to achieve. A more fluid idea would be an intra-party shadow cabinet where the main political parties in opposition would nominate inside their parties various members of assembly as shadow ministers, which would be responsible for developing a more inclusive response to government policies of their relevant departments.
It is no secret that apart from a respected few, a great majority of the members of assembly, of which a sizable number a product of feudal, aristocratic or elite back ground, lack the relevant knowledge base for such an exercise, but nonetheless it should be admitted, a great number of said members hold vast parliamentary experience of the Pakistani legislature.

Hence, these shadow ministers may in turn engage groups of youth, scholars and students of the relevant fields prescribed to them, from their own study circles of youth wings and student federations or even apolitical but knowledgeable or influential young people from their constituencies. These groups of stake holders from various fields, combined with the relevant experience of their shadow minister, can through a short combined exercise develop an effective counter policy exhibiting their personal experience and relevant expertise, which may be presented through relevant member of assembly in the house.

This exercise will not only orient the parliament in a direction towards policy making but also be a huge personal and professional development for the various groups of youth involved. It will also provide the relevant parties with actual experienced experts and a set of technocrats to introduce along with substantive policies in government, while opening new avenues and attraction for the youth who are much alienated and annoyed of the current system.

The same practice being engaged by youth parliaments and non government organisations with large amounts of financial investments, such as the youth legislative exercises performed by PILDAT and other such organisations can be achieved through a simple change in party structures and leave a much greater and lasting impression.

Though today, such demands may sound heavily utopian, but until or unless such vigorous steps customised with our own unique needs are not taken for the inculcation of the majority population of the country in the political system, until the students and youth shift from political brawn to political brain, we will not achieve the much needed subtle revolution that our system and country demands and the sons and grandsons of political giants will continue to reign supreme and inherit the fruits of the entire nation’s efforts.

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