In Pakistan, nowadays, we are witnessing people criticizing the powerful Institutions, governments, and politicians of the country. Some of these objections are based on “biases” and “prejudice”, as I have observed. Even though it has been so in the past as well, nowadays this “criticism” has become more frequent and fervent. Social Media has exacerbated this phenomenon. One reason, I believe, for this is that there has always been a “distance” between the people of the country and its Government and Institutions. On top of that, little effort has been made to reduce this “distance”. This lack of communication (owing to the Distance) leads to “skepticism” among the people, and this is a major cause of the “trust deficit” between the citizens of Pakistan and those governing them.
I assert that the common people of Pakistan, especially the students of Pakistan, should have access to and familiarity with these esteemed Institutions (as well as the Local and Federal Governing governments). Students, after all, are the future of this Nation and should be aware of how the Bureaucracy, Judiciary, Governments, and Media in Pakistan function. Unfortunately, most students today are using Social Media unproductively. The Career-Oriented ones, on the other hand, are solely focused on their grades, internships, publications, and job placements. This needs to change, and students of every discipline should be allowed to participate actively or passively in the affairs of the country. At least they should be aware of how this country is governed and what role they can play in it.
I recall that during my University days, we had a memorable visit to the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi. Schools, Colleges, and Universities often organize such trips for the learning experience of their students. I assert that similar trips be arranged to the venues of different Institutions in the country. For instance, University students should be visiting the City Courts, High Courts, the Supreme Court, Provincial Assemblies, Headquarters of Armed Forces, etc. Doing so will have two major benefits.
First, it will allow the students to have “First-hand experience” of how our key Institutions function. Every University student, regardless of his or her discipline or field of study (medical, engineering, etc.), should be practically aware of the system that governs our country. It will not only be a form of “experiential learning” for them but also finally “break the ice”, reducing the “power distance” that exists between the people and rulers.
Secondly, it will boost the morale of the students. Unfortunately, most of the students remain too occupied with their monotonous study routines in pursuit of an illustrious career. Many brilliant students leave this country in hopes of a better future due to a lack of opportunities. Our youth seldom get a chance to actually interact with those responsible for the administration of the country. If this “interaction” is made possible, the motivation of the youth to serve Pakistan will increase. In addition to that, it is pivotal that students feel “empowered” in our country. Their potential should be harnessed for the benefit of Pakistan. This includes those students who have already gone abroad for Education. One way to achieve this is to let them play some role (even if it is a Minor one) in the Governance of Pakistan.
Important Figures Visit Educational Institutes
I also advocate that prominent figures (Leaders, Officials, and bureaucrats) holding important offices in Pakistan should themselves visit the Educational Institutes more often. While Educational trips to important places like the Parliament have their own benefits, “Powerful” people visiting an Institute ensure gains too.
First, such a “visit” is advantageous for these personalities themselves. By interacting with multiple students at the same time, they can properly introduce themselves (and their Roles) and put forward their stances. They can discuss the way forward for Pakistan. In this era of Social Media, where “propaganda” and “fake news” are on the rise, “one-on-one” interaction with the youth of Pakistan can enable these “high-profile” individuals to defend themselves and their “image” in front of the masses.
Furthermore, it gives the students an opportunity to ask questions. A young mind is always curious. It is also a mind that is full of wonderful ideas that can be fruitful for Pakistan. Such sessions will not only increase the confidence of these students but also help them acquire priceless knowledge about the current affairs of the country. In fact, through such conferences and seminars, the students can become even more informed than others, including their parents, whose source of knowledge is often only NEWS.
Wings for Students vs “Student Wings” vs “Wings for Students”
In Pakistan, some political parties have “Student Wings/Unions”. This does give the youth and students an opportunity to become active in that party`s Politics. It also gives them a temporary “sense of power”. However, seldom do they get a chance to take part in the actual administration or Governance on a local or federal level (when that party comes into power). In fact, I have observed that quite often the energy, enthusiasm, time, and efforts of students (and young party members) are exploited. They do not gain much from it.
On the contrary, students should be given a “voice” in the ongoing affairs of Pakistan, regardless of which Political party is in power. They should be made to realize that the State is more important than these political parties. Emphasis should be placed on ensuring that the “input” of students is taken into account.
If the Political parties can harness the power of youth, why can`t our Institutions do the same? In fact, I advocate that talented students should be actively recruited by the Powerful Institutions of Pakistan. This can simultaneously ensure “employment” for Youth as well as quality services for these Institutions. In other words, endeavors should be made to give “Wings” to the students.
To sum up, it is pivotal to “bridge the gap” that exists between the people (especially students) in Pakistan and the Important Governing/Ruling bodies. This will result in more than one benefit for both. Our leadership needs to execute and implement this for the brighter future of Pakistan. In the words of Tom Peters,
“Leaders don`t create followers. They create more leaders.”