Apolitical or Depoliticised? Pakistan’s Youth and Politics

Pakistan has a long history of student politics and students have played a major role in shaping the directions taken by the state and the government of Pakistan. However, the sustained involvement of external forces – both state institutions and political parties – has significantly altered student politics, leading to a situation where youth political involvement is marginalised and political engagement is viewed through potential for patronage. The political parties, struggling to engage with the youth, have yet to reform their internal structures and outreach programmes. With 63 per cent of the country’s population under the age of 25, Pakistan is experiencing a profound demographic change with wide-ranging socio-political effects. Failure to improve the quality of political engagement with students and the youth in general could have a significant impact on democracy.