Youth is an asset for a nation. When guided in the right direction, millenials can make an incredible difference, or else they become a burden. Considering Pakistan’s more than 50 million young people that fall in the range of 18-29 years of age, we have one of the largest youth populations on the planet. But there is no power in numbers when they are marginalised, disorganised, disoriented, unequipped and considered unimportant. What do you expect from youth when they are not given employment opportunities? To channel their energy? To engage in productive activities? Millennials today feel hopeless, at unrest, experience cognitive dissonance and face unresolved psychological conflicts due to which they find themselves involved in destructive and harmful activities. This can happen to any of us without direction. When the state does not have an agenda for a productive direction for today’s youth, then they are directionless and you cannot expect positive contribution from every single young individual bereft of purpose. Some of them will find their own direction based on their own personal capacities and capabilities, but many of them will be in conflict with their inner-selves due to frustration, anxiety and depression.

Take Australia as an example; their national youth policy is to work for youth to grow safe, happy, healthy and resilient. Take New Zealand; they are working to provide youth with developmental opportunities that make them able to acquire the skills and confidence to participate and contribute to the social and economic growth of the country and its future. Take Japan; the basic measure of their youth vision is taking care of basic life skills, supporting social development and youth participation through programs, encouraging vocational training, independence and employment. Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and many other countries have a national agenda for their youth. What about the national youth policy of Pakistan? Our country needs it now more than ever.

Our youth is lagging behind in terms of employment opportunities. According to World Bank statistics, 8.2 percent youth is unemployed in Pakistan as of 2014, which I see as one of the biggest challenges faced by both our country and our millennials. Having degrees but no jobs at hand is even more frustrating. Providing employment opportunities to young people should be the top most priority in the national youth policy. This can be done when our government relies and focuses on our own workforce, with foreign and local experts being utilized for teaching purposes that equip our millennials with the skills they need to prosper in an increasingly globalized society, taking Pakistan and its workforce into the future.

Secondly, due to the tarnished fabric of the society, many of our youth are at risk of developing psychological illnesses; susceptibility towards neurotic (anxiety, depression, etc.) as well as psychotic disorders.

The next priority is to get the youth out of this turmoil to make them mentally, emotionally and spiritually intelligent and strong. For that very matter, counselors and psychologists should be appointed in every hospital or clinic of each city in Pakistan. Thirdly, anger issues have experienced a spike due to frustration and intolerance in youth. Our young people need to be tolerant, accepting, and enduring, for this would be the basis towards bringing youth of different provinces closer, healing divides and building a strong national unity and vision. Substantial changes are needed in education curriculums to also foster tolerance in thinking patterns. This can be instilled through teachers at schools and parents at home.

Fourth, the physiological health of our youth needs to be worked on and for this, the food ministry needs to ensure quality sustenance and sports ministry needs to ensure a culture of conscious healthy behavior, sport and exercise in the country. It is an important way to encourage team building and a little healthy competition. Regulation grounds would have to be developed for proper sports and events. Along with cricket, other sports like football, basketball, badminton, and squash should be promoted. All our negative energies need to be diffused with the help of physical exertion through sports.

The focus of Pakistan’s national youth policy needs to provide the youth with jobs and ensure overall physical, mental and social development. This country needs to take care of our young people, for they are the future and we deserve a bright, healthy and happy one.