The imagination, ideals, enthusiasm and energies of young people are vital for the continuing development of their communities. Pakistan has an unusually young overall population. Pakistan at the moment houses the largest number of youth in its history Youth under the age of 29 constitutes 68.8% of the total population. As much as 64.87% young population resides in rural areas and 35.13% in urban areas. The census of 1998 counted 56 million children under the age of 15. There were another 13 million adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, and 11 million youth aged between 20 to 24 years. In other words, in 1998 children, the very young and the youth accounted for 62 million of the total population. (Census Report of Pakistan 1998).
Of the 15 largest countries in the world in terms of population size, Pakistan has by far the youngest people. The youth of Pakistan presents the most promising resource and in huge quantity, a big reservoir of energy. If this energy is put to proper use it will bring about a complete social, economic, cultural and ideological revolution in the country. That could contribute significantly to the economic growth and poverty alleviation. Both the government and society must join their hands for this nation-building task and concentrate on protecting the emotional and physical health of the youth, their skill-based education, provision of recreational facilities, employment and above all incorporation of self-confidence, motivation and courage to move forward. Indeed it is clear from the experience of many other countries that unless these assets and qualities are given the opportunity to be applied, they can easily turn to negativism and disruption of social order. The need therefore is to create increasing opportunities for them to develop their personalities and functional capabilities and to enable them to be productive and socially useful.
It is a great tragedy that the vast amount of youth energies has never been put to proper use. They have not been given any participation in any sphere of life. They have never made partners in the development of the country. Young people are experiencing isolation, vulnerability, powerlessness and idleness (due to lack of free time activities).
Their disadvantages derive them from lack of access to interrelated dimensions, such as:
(i) Economic (assets leading to income generation).
(ii) Social (access to information, social capital, free-time activities, cultural expression, educational opportunities, care and mentoring in youth friendly venues).
(iii) Participation in decision making (empowerment, governance).
On this basis, it appears that youth inclusion policies would be more effective if these different dimensions are combined, rather than having fragmented sectoral interventions. Institutional neglect and cultural biases constitute major barriers that prevent youth access to the above-indicated assets.
Young people who are subject to poverty, unemployment, lack of access to social opportunities and lack of support are at high risk to both themselves and society as a whole. Lack of engagement and lack of connection makes it less likely that young people will become contributing and self-sufficient adults. It will ultimately threaten our future.
The youth of Pakistan are caught in a multitude of problems like unemployment, poverty, remorselessness, social taboos, drugs, guns and politics. It is unfortunate that the youth are trapped in a culture marked by guns, violence and drugs. All this has resulted in an unstable economy, a shattered confidence of foreign investors, lawlessness and a break-up of the social fabric.
The costs of neglecting youth can be measured in terms of increasing incidences of crimes, terrorist activities and depletion of human and social capital. There is a loss of economic growth possibilities, which will only increase as this large cohort ages and is without experience in the work force. More difficult to quantify are the costs of societal instability and endemic conflict.