Pakistani millennials, after spending the inaugural years of their lives in the dictatorial era of 1999-2007, currently face a lot of challenges. However, it’s the same millennials that stand as a symbol of hope amid the time of crisis.
This is probably one of the hardest times to be a young person in Pakistan. With globalization, Pakistani society has been increasingly exposed to the Western culture and values, but what to embrace and what not to, still remains a matter of concern. Youth in Pakistan finds itself bewildered among contrasting ideologies. Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, portrays the perfect picture of this phenomenon.
The city has gay clubs that operate in secret (which is extremely liberal for the Pakistani society), and at the same time there are clerics and religious scholars sitting in the heart of the capital, protecting blasphemy laws and propagating intolerance and hatred. This deviation in ideologies exists throughout the country. You can see liberals striving to change Pakistan into a secular state, and extreme conservatives trying to bring in more legislations to enforce their own interpretations of religion (e.g. the proposed bill for apostasy laws in 2007). In this polarized environment, it can get really challenging for a young person to pick a side and have clear, rational and independent political and ideological opinions.
Pakistani millennials face an array of challenges
Apart from that, Pakistani millennials face an array of other challenges as well. The lack of quality education, energy crisis, human rights issues, terrorism, and corruption are few of the most pertinent. The future poses more threats as Pakistan is being predicted to be one of the countries to be most affected by the climate change. Being hugely dependent on agriculture for its economy, Pakistan can face serious existential threats if weather patterns turn unfavorable.
However, some of the most recent progressions provide some much needed silver lining. Recently, in the Punjab region, the provincial assembly passed the ‘Protection of Women against Violence Act’, and the national assembly passed a bill to amend legal loopholes that have previously led to an increase in honour killings, paving way for a more secure environment for women.
The military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azab’ has also been quite successful in controlling terrorism. In the first week of December, the youth took on the streets, and through the power of protest, forced the Supreme Court to open up corruption cases against the Prime Minister.
A greater awareness of personal and political rights is empowering young minds and urging them to make strong demands from the ruling powers. The youth is also taking a futuristic approach and trying to take measures to protect the environment.
One of the four provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, launched their “Billion Tree Tsunami” project in an attempt to protect the environment. Similar efforts are being taken on the national level to ensure a more secure future. Economic conditions also look hopeful as Pakistan recently inaugurated CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), connecting China to the Arabian Sea. This project is predicted to be a boon for Pakistan’s economy.
Fighting their own battles and challenging the stereotyped international images, Pakistani millennials stand as a symbol of hope and peace and are paving way for a more tolerant and progressive tomorrow.