Insulating Our Youth From Hostile Narratives

In many instances technology becomes a threat affecting human minds as at least some of their issues stem from experiences they have on social media. Terrorism in its advance manifestation is targetting educated youth, especially ISIS, and manipulating them with the ideals they portray in the guise of false religious obligations.

Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa while interacting with interns at ISPR urged them to be mindful and vigilant of hostile narratives on social media and to exercise prudence and deliberation in their choices."Educated youth is prime target of ISIS and affiliates, be extra cautious,” he said. The youth must be aware of their role as members of the society and avoid becoming a tool in advancing the political and religious agendas in the name of which terrorism is perpetrated. The terrorists run a protracted campaign of terrorism coupled with cyber and psychological warfare that includes targeting the youth through social media platforms. It is a timely and laudable initiative by the COAS as when we help our youth understand the reality of situations they are faced with, it validates their thoughts, and gives them the confidence and courage they need to stand up to evil they contend with. They must become part of the solution and not the victims of circumstance.

If aptly guided, our youth can truly be an asset as over 60% of our population is less than 25 years of age. There is a window of opportunity presented by the majority of youth entering their productive peak, and hence the potential to reap enormous benefits from ensuring that youth have the right opportunities, health, skills and social capital to contribute to growth productively. COAS said, “Pakistan is blessed with the most talented and vibrant youth, and the future of Pakistan belongs to them. I have full confidence and optimism that the youth will lead Pakistan to new era of peace and progress.” The COAS also urged the youth to have confidence in themselves, adhere to merit, follow rule of law, and not to look for shortcuts in life for success.

However, of immediate concern is the fact that Pakistan has to make investment in the youth now to create jobs quickly enough to absorb the large youth cohorts entering the workforce. Greater female turnout in the workforce in the recent years can either be turned into a tremendous asset; or a risk manifesting itself as a drain on growth and society rather than a dividend. Efforts are to be made to coordinate the development and implementation of the youth agenda through the creation of national youth policies to address needs of the youth. Pakistan must build on the successes and potential such as the resplendent intellectual achievements that have been made by the youth and correct the failures in order to provide them a merit based society with focus on growth.

In terms of providing safe and secure environment to our youth, COAS reiterated that Pakistan Army is committed to provide them a safe, secure and stable Pakistan and Pakistan Army is fully capable of meeting all internal and external challenges. COAS resolved and assured the youth as well as the nation that:“Pakistan Army has achieved great successes to rid the country of violence and terrorism. However for enduring peace, each one of us has to contribute our respective bit”.

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