By Andeel Ali:
I once got a chance to attend a seminar at a university in Karachi on the topic, “Is our Future Positive”, where the speakers blamed politicians for the failures of the government.
After much brainstorming, I came up to the conclusion that the future of Pakistan’s youth is bright, Pakistani universities have much to offer, bureaucracy is in the right direction, as well as the media industry is growing with leaps and bounds by the day. Despite shortcomings, all state institutions are getting into their direction, but political parties. Their future, for me, is dark and gloomy.Â But why do I think so? We all believe in continuous development; we set goals for ourselves: short- mid- and long-term; however, our political parties fail to have a vision for themselves.
The youth engages in community development, generates credible experiences, attend trainings and workshops. The bureaucracy has the National Institution of Management (Formerly NIPA-National Institute of Public Administration) and Civil Service Academy Lahore; the universities have their own developmental programmes, as well as Higher Education Commission’s training programme. But our local political parties lack any such institutionalization. Their leadership is based on Plutocracy and their membership drive is senseless: practically anyone can walk in to party offices and become a member by filling a membership form; in fact, there are no credibility checks other than some very ‘obvious’ credentials. In fact a certain political party made its “membership campaign” a ‘practical joke’ — “become a member by replying to an SMS!” Is this a fair criterion?
Now coming back to the training and development part, some political parties believe that by participating in debates (inter-college or intra-party) their members get the training; but in reality, they become nothing more than public speaking firebrands! They don’t get any exposure about good governance, companionship.
In Pakistan, the only training that political parties receive is by a few NGOs, who also aren’t self-sustained in this matter. Probably funded by foreign organizations, they are doing a good job but when the aid ends, the capacity building ends too.Â In the numerous trainings I have presided throughout the country, I have noticed that in general, Pakistani youth is aware of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Millennium Development Goals, among others; but are the party workers aware of such things? No, they are NOT; they’re only used for campaigning. Period.
The only formal training and education politicians receive is when they become parliamentarians, through the National Defence University and Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT). Yes, after becoming an MPA or MNA our politicians ‘learn how to govern the state’.Â So, what’s the solution? Shred the pre-1947 style of politics, don’t be influenced to become PR fanatics! Instead, engage in real-time development! Send your members to training programmes, i.e. British Council’s Active Citizens Program and its national level Social Action Project “Ilmbassadors”, Youth Parliament of Pakistan’s KNOW YOUR RIGHTS and Youth Action for Democracy, etc.
Political workers need to be taught political philosophy, community development and project management. This way when a mere political worker, when asked for experience, can provide evidence! Since our youth is now empowered and aware, your candidate is asking for a job and the whole constituency is the interviewer!
– Andeel Ali is a motivational speaker and trainer working with the Youth Parliament of Pakistan