Sunday, February 24, 2008

Reclaiming the Generation Lost

Muhammad Asif Riaz

Pakistani youth is experiencing an age that lack stable government, justified economic growth, basic physiological needs and high rate of unemployment. History tells us that in such conditions, youth often challenges the authority and ideology of mainstream society through alternative options of religion, violence, extremism or migration (brain drain). Radical Islamist groups have been successful in portraying their version of religion as an escape from everyday problems and a channel through which to criticize the present day system. They have also been successful in recruiting the disillusioned and improvised youth, providing simplistic answers to questions about the grim reality of their lives. To this view is the reality that in today's conflicts, especially armed conflicts in different areas of Pakistan, usually children and teenagers are often seen as political actors being recruited into religious and political armed groups and motivated to serve in roles such as combatants and spies. An important study about the youth upsurge finds that the youth cohorts who are not given the opportunity to integrate into community and social structures are less able to acquire the skills they need for peaceful and constructive adult lives. A deprived, frustrated, or traumatized youth cohort, if left without help, can continue to foment violent conflict for decades. International media has branded such generation a "Lost Generation".
Youth traditionally provides upsurge for change; whether this is for a beneficial change or for the destruction of a society, the effects are equally felt. From beneficial Change all I mean is attainment of higher level of Peace in any Community, or Nation. This change can be achieved by reclaiming the lost generation by process of social transformation. Social transformation for peace very much means revolution. More and more of us should begin to realize that it could not mean less. We are marching towards the future but trying to have the barbaric ruling principals of "might is right". As I write, in this moment, hundreds of people are being killed, wounded, hunted, tormented, ill-treated, delivered up to the most intolerable and hopeless anxiety and destroyed morally and mentally, and there is nothing in sight at present to arrest this spreading process and prevent its reaching to us. It is spreading at velocity of light. It is time to act and try to start struggle for social transformation at massive level in Pakistan. If we run away from it, it will follow and get us. We have to face it. We have to solve it, or be destroyed by it. It is as urgent and comprehensive as that.
There must not be protection for leaders and organizations (armed, religious, poiltical or what so ever) from the positive criticism, on the plea of "Pakistan First". We have to talk and tell exactly what our ideas and feelings are. The more unpleasant aspects of a state, under modern conditions is the presence of a group of individuals, too clever by half, in positions of authority, excited, conceited, prepared to lie, distort, pseudo-intellectual and generally humbug people into states of agreements, resistance, indignation, vindictiveness, doubt and mental confusion; states of mind supposed to be conductive to a final victory. These people love to twist and censor facts. It gives them a feeling of power. They sit, filled with the wine of their transitory powers, aloof from the fatigues and dangers of conflict, pulling imaginary strings in people's minds. I put free speech and vigorous publication ahead of all. It is the best thing worth fighting for. It is the essence of personal honor. It is our duty as a citizen to do what we can do for that. We have not only to resist suppressions; we have to fight your way out of the fog. If we find our media failing to distribute any type of publication whatever- even if we are in entire disagreement with the views of that publication—we must boycott the offender and find another for everything we read.
Pakistan is burning and going to pieces. It has to be reconstructed and it can only be possible in the light. The youth is indeed restless, impatient and as we shall see extremely dangerous. This information modernized excess population has no longer any social humility. It has no belief in the infallible wisdom of its rulers. It sees them too clearly; it knows about them, their waste, vices and weaknesses, with an even exaggerated vividness. It sees no reason for its exclusion from the good things of life by such people. It has lost enough of its inferiority to realize that most of that inferiority is arbitrary and artificial. The eager and adventurous unemployed young are indeed becoming the shock troops in the destruction of the old social order in Pakistan. How are we going to use up or satisfy this surplus of human energy? "How can we offer the common young man a reasonable and stimulating prospect of a full life?" The simple answer to this question is to take mass initiatives that include integrating youth into society for social transformation and not merely aim at compensating youth for current disadvantages.

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