Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

Addressing youth issues in Gilgit-Baltistan

Sher Wali

Sher Wali 

Gilgit Baltistan, having a unique geographical and cultural setting, has been a center of global and regional attention. Natural resources and social dynamics of the region have a potential to promote it and  develop the socio-economic status of the people of GB. But unfortunately lack of awareness, resources and investment to exploit the natural resources, and lack of political commitment to materialize good governance, has pushed the region towards poverty and instability. Instability is observed in all sectors, law and order situation, and escalation of sectarianism, formation of pressures groups, suicides cases, corruption, and nepotism. Youth of the region have been victim of the direct effects of this social, political and economic instability.

The issues of the region are ample, with deterioration of law and order topping the list. There are many stakeholders who can play their role to restore and maintain the regional peace. One of the most important agents of peace can be the youth. However, capitalizing on the deprivations of the youth, they have been used by vested groups as fodder in sectarian and political wars.

Unless issues of youth are resolved on priority basis the peace in the region cannot be anticipated to maintain. To realize the youth issues we must understand the dynamics of the youth apart from their age; this should be analyzed based on economic and social indicators. If we see the Youth Classes, it will be helpful to understand their issues, their role to contribute the society in terms of development, harmony and above all peace in the region.

Sher Wali
Sher Wali

Most of the youth who have completed their formal education and they are engaged in their jobs, are contributing to the development of region, because they want to see a prosperous Gilgit Baltistan. They can play their role as a strong component of stakeholder. They must be involved in the process of peace in the region. Their skills and expertise can be utilized voluntarily. They must be empowered to educate and create awareness in the society. This class of Youth is kind of service provider and, most of the youth are running their own businesses, in forms of education, vocational trainings, and consultancy farms.

There is another class of youth having certificates and degrees in file covers and in search of jobs. They are disappointed and frustrated due to the illegal and irregular practices in all departments. Due to the deprivation, they are allegedly involved in unhealthy activities to meet their daily needs. Ultimately they are forced to form pressure groups and put pressures on the institutions for getting jobs; bribe is taken from such deprived youth and vice versa.  Some institutions and officials can use this group for their own interests and so a base of corruption generates from here. This group is also victim of the merit, as this is the production of those youth who are disappointed and frustrated and deliberately want to create law and order disturb. The reason behind this frustration is lack of implementation of policies, illegal recruitments, bribe, corruption and nepotism. They found no space to get legal doors so ultimately they use the illegal sources.

Special consideration should be given to this group. Creation of job opportunities, merit based recruitment and avoiding involving them as a pressure group, is one of the factors which reduce some level of corruption and instability in the region.

Class third is consists of those   who are studying in different educational institutions in the country. This class is considered the most energetic and emotional group of youth. The future leaders can be created from here. Healthy activities, fair and effective policies in schools, colleges and universities are needed to ensure the quality of education and good career and capacity building for the youth. They must be provided with all the necessary requirements in their institutions, they must be nurtured through values, respect, patriotism, and meritocracy. The institutions must provide guidelines to the students in terms of co-curricular activities, cultural shows, festivals and others, so a healthy youth come to the market to serve the community.

Similarly, the policies and recommendations in the universities and colleges should be based on the benefits and interests of the region. Poor policies and poor governance led these institutions towards mistrust, and places of conflicts. So wise decisions and fair and free policies should be formulated.

Youth are disappointed to see the corruption and law & order in the region. And they think that jobs are sold with heavy amount and degrees have no values and so disappointment led the students towards unfair means in the colleges and universities. If this is not stopped than the situation of the region and the issues of youth in future cannot be addressed and peace process in the region will become only a dream.

There is another class of youth having a special concentration from government, this class is consists of those who have left their schools or having no education, is one of the most deprived and economically affected. You can see them in the streets of Gilgit city and many in the villages. You can see them in hotels, workshops, or working with ginti-belcha.. They have only interests to get money to meet their needs. This is due to the lack of labor policies. No daily wages is fixed. This group is affected by the human rights and child labor. If human rights are not taken into account, and child labor is increased, in Gilgit Baltistan you will see a lot of children in future on the streets while begging money and coins. As this activity is not suitable to a culturally and socially rich region of Gilgit Baltistan, where you have values, dignity, respect and brotherhood.

It is irony that the number of street beggars is increasing day by day on the roads of Gilgit city, and the young aged female and males are wondering on the roads by begging money and collecting the garbage. It is noteworthy that these young aged garbage collectors are within from the region speaking the local languages, and there are many who are non-locals. These are imported from the down country and it is also learnt that a mafia is involved to bring these young age beggars to the region, so government should take notice of this shameful activity in the region.

In Gilgit Baltistan we have not experienced any bomb blasting events in past, though the law and order in GB on sectarian bases is not a case of today, it has been created during 1988. There were minor clashes and killings and then the situation was normalized. But current situation is that bomb blasts are often occurring in the region. If the flow of these young age unpatronage children is increased then they can be utilized for suicide bombers which cannot be neglected by our political leaders. This phenomenon should be considered and influx of the beggars should be stop. Therefore the issue of this category of youth is more complex rather than others.

4 thoughts on “Addressing youth issues in Gilgit-Baltistan

  1. Sher Wali Sahab, Writing on such a topic which directly addresses , represents and talks of youth is very encouraging and appreciable at the same time! We whole heartedly appreciate your work , developmental thoughts and sincere sentiments. But such issues can only be addressed & settled at highest forums i.e. (GBLA & GB Council) unfortunately we have elected & sent such representatives in to these forums who are unable to disassociate themselves from corruption, bribe and nepotism instead they strongly favor and promote such immoral practices! The only way out is to elect a competent, honest and sincere leadership from our constituencies who could stand out for all such ill & immoral practices! we are equally responsible for all that what is happening because its we who have empowered them with our support and vote! I aspire and keep good thoughts to see a new, vibrant, vigilant and honest leadership in the political arena ahead!

  2. The fact that religious extremists are able to create chaos through explosions (perhaps with help from abroad) needs to be questioned. All this in the region which is experiencing global warming, melting of glaciers, population density, emittance of noxious gases from the valleys below, and prone to seismic activities.

    The frustated youth, fed up with corruption of the beaurocracy are bound to think that the only way to ‘sucess’ is through the back door, while there are alternate ways for persons who are altrustic, seekers of knowledge, those who want to develop their characters, wanting to make a difference in the region where they live and like meeting people of other cultures and races. Their option, would be to join an environmental and foreign NGOs that are operating in the region, as volunteers, providing their local knowledge of the area. What matters to them is richness of surroundings, rather than materialism, and leading sumptuous and superficial livestyles.

    Garbage collecting can be regulated through recycling efforts and composting of food and brown waste (green and brown waste, from newspaper, cardboard etc) can turn this waste into compost for gardens and the farmers. It could also provide jobs, if the council invests in this project and launches awareness programmes throughout the region.

    It would apppear that leaders and elected members are not always the right people to turn to.

    1. Well, joining an NOG or other institution is all well and good, but for how long do you expect people to work for free and live off their families? Those who have managed to study and are equipped to work in such institutions can´t work as volunteers forever. Neither can those who have to collect garbage. At the end of the day all have to earn their living.
      Unfortunately I have no solution to that situation either, but would want to refrain from romanticisms, making out altruists who would spend their time and efforts just for the sake of nature or enjoing a rich surrounding. As you said, there is rather a need for job creation projects and policies.

  3. Dear Sher Wali sb,
    Thank you for writing a thought provoking article and pin pointing our most important asset, the youth. I have the previlged of serving in GB and I came to the same conclusions when I was working for AKRSP. At AKRSP we conceived a youth development project in 2007, focused on employability, leadership and entrepreneurship of youth. There are many commonalties between the idea and design of this project and your thoughts. Youth segmentation along the lines that you propose has been done and appropriate youth support services and resources have been provided for each segment, with continuous learning, entrepreneurship and leadership development as cross cutting themes.

    GB offers a unique opportunity, as you point out, for rapid social and economic transformation. From our geo-economic potential to natural resources, social and human capital. But this transformation can only happen through political change. Youth-led political change is entirely possible. However, there is no unifying force within GB and youth is fragmented among the slogans of national parties, and unable to produce a unified political alternative: Making Development the true politics of GB. I very much hope that we don’t miss this opportunity to create a model governance system for GB.

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