A policy dialogue was held in Muzaffarabad on the role of political parties in promotion of decision-making role of youth in the context of upcoming elections to the AJK Legislative Assembly.
Leadership from all the mainstream political parties of AJK presented their vision for the youth of AJK for upcoming elections, its Executive Director Ershad Mahmood told The Nation. Pakistan Muslim League-N AJK President Raja Farooq Haider Khan, Finance Minister Chaudhary Latif Akbar, Jamaat-e-Islami AJK Ameer, Abdur Rashid Turabi, PTI AJK President Gulzar Fatima and AJK Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Shaheen Kausar Dar shared their vision for young people and spoke at length on party manifestoes regarding empowerment of youth.
“Almost 350 young people including lawyers, academicians, political parties reps, students, civil society reps and media actively participated in the interactive discussion,” he said. After rigorous deliberation seven consensus points were put forward to all political parties’ reps like political parties should discourage dynastic politics and nepotism in AJK, Ershad said.
The meet strongly suggested unanimously that the political parties in AJK should ensure transparent mechanisms of Intra party democracy and should focus on institutionalisation of party offices.
It was also put forward as consensus point that both the local government and student unions which are considered as breeding ground for new leadership should be revived and made functional in AJK.
Nearly 350 participants called for increase in youth in the political process in the context of upcoming elections in AJK. This demand was vociferously raised by young people in the policy dialogue organised by Centre for Peace and Development and Reforms (CPDR).
For the first time in AJK history, political leadership from the mainstream parties including leading civil society activists presented their vision for young people, which is estimated 2.9 million out of four million population.
Dr Waqas Ali, FaizaInayat and Adnan Rehman Mir also shared their perspective on issues, challenges and the emerging trends of young people towards political system. Raja Farooq Haider Khan stated that youth deserve more representation and opportunities in the current political, social and economic system as they make 65 % of the total local population.
He pledged that if PML-N gets power in the upcoming elections he would immediately announce local bodies elections with 20% dedicated quota for young people and restore student unions, which according to him is considered as nurseries of politics.
Lamenting on poor socio-economic state of young people, he pointed out that AJK has 14 % unemployment ratio as compared to 4% in Pakistan. He called for uniform educational system, and empowering the youth socially, politically and economically. He said employment opportunities should not be given on the basis of fraternities, tribalism or regionalism, which is another leading cause of anxiety and frustration among the youth.
Chaudhry Latif Akbar said PPP gives highest priority to education of youth that is why his party has set up a number of higher educational institutions and medical colleges in the State. He strongly criticised the role of Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Kashmir Council. He offered Raja Farooq Haider to work with the PPP government to amend AJK Constitution known as Act 1974 for more prosperous AJK.
Abdur Rashid Turabi said that Jamaat-e-Islami provides equal opportunities to young people and its top leadership comes from the grassroots level. He underlined the need of sustained dialogue between youth and political parties to bridge the perception gap.
Mrs Shaheen Kausar urged all political parties to ensure intra party elections and capacity building of the youth on regular basis to nurture new leadership. Ershad Mahmud, Executive Director of CPDR announced that before elections his organisation will be arranging three more such dialogues that would be held at Mirpur, Rawalakot and Islamabad.
It was general sense of the interactive session that violations of merit, disparities, inequalities and injustices breed huge frustration; deprivation and restlessness that can give rise to violent tendencies.
While explaining his six-year engagement with the youth of AJK, Dr Waqas Ali held that youth are one of the most important segments of the society and well informed and vibrant youth of AJK if given opportunities can play vital role for its development.
Another academician Adnan Rehman, while explaining his experience with the young people, said that government should make policies to address the youth’s issues and involve them in policy making, legislative institutions to address their concerns otherwise they might be attracted to radical ideas.