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Consultative Session on the Importance of Youth Participation in Electoral Processes of Pakistan

A consultative session with the students and faculty of the University of Karachi was held at their Audio-Visual center. Mr. Aijaz Chowhan on Thursday, Provincial Election Commissioner Sindh and Mr. Asghar Ali Sial, Joint Provincial Election Commissioner Sindh were also present in the consultation.

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Mr. Faheem Ahmed Khan is a Senior Projects Manager PILDAT  who greeted the participants and explained the format of the consultative session. The format included a panel discussion to address the following questions:

  1. Youth does not turn out to vote. Is it a myth or is it really the case?
  2. Why youth does not turn out to vote?
  3. What steps ECP has taken to enhance youth voter turnout?
  4. Has ECP taken any steps to make it possible for the people to know the number and percentage of youth candidates in any election?
  5. Will it be possible for ECP to ascertain the youth voter turnout in the upcoming election?
  6. What has the university done to enhance the understanding and significance of participating/voting for the students?
  7. Way forward?

Mr. Faheem Ahmed Khan while presenting shared the demographic distribution of registered voters in Pakistan, highlighting that 45% of the total registered voters belong to the age group of 18-35 years. Additionally, he provided a comparative analysis of the voting behaviors shown by the young populations of Pakistan and India. Notably, the youth voter participation in India surpassed the overall voter turnout seen in the most recent Indian elections.

The panelists were Mr. Aijaz Chowhan, the Provincial Election Commissioner, Ms. Aliza Fatima, the President of the Debating Club, Ms. Sadaf Naz, a Member of the Debating Club, Dr. Syed Asim Ali, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Dr. Shaista Tabbsum, Dean faculty of Arts and social sciences, Professor of international Relations department at the University of Karachi.

The panelists acknowledged the facts presented by PILDAT that young people exhibit low voter turnout rates and voiced worry over the lack of trust among youth toward the electoral system.

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Additionally, they highlighted the little information that youth had regarding the electoral system, which contributes to their disengagement from democratic processes. The need to conduct awareness programmes to promote youth participation in the next election was emphasized.

In his comments, Mr. Aijaz Chowhan, the Provincial Election Commissioner of Sindh, discussed the ongoing awareness initiatives conducted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) with the aim of encouraging youth participation in the electoral process. He also provided a comprehensive overview of the significance of voting, with particular emphasis on the potential transformative impact that young people may have via exercising their right to vote.

Dr. Shaista Tabassum, Dean faculty of Arts and social sciences, Professor of international Relations department, stressed the need to revive student unions so that the students are engaged in the electoral processes just not at the time of national elections but also throughout their educational careers, which will not only help solve their on-campus problems but also inculcate a culture of tolerance in the students.

The session was attended by a total of 103 students out of which 76 (73%) were young women and 27 (26.1%) were young men.

The panel discussion was followed by a mock polling exercise in which students participated very enthusiastically and cast their votes.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Asghar Ali Sial, the Joint Provincial Election Commissioner, commended the students for their active participation in the mock polling exercise. He also emphasized the importance of PILDAT’s ongoing initiatives and projects to enhance awareness of electoral processes, specifically targeting the youth demographic.

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