Freshness, potency, spirit, and efficacy are characteristics of young leadership that currently coming forward to represent the world in various fields. Emerging young talent in numerous countries seeks for both power and leadership to trace their dreams to bring huge change in their societies. Their affection for ‘change’ and ‘advancement’ shows their persistence to address the collective betterment of all. On the other hand, incompetent and ‘imposed’ managers (not leaders) plant the virus of ignorance that corrupts the files of our societies by delaying the progress and development for the majority by exploiting the power for their interests or for the interest of few people. Unfortunately, the majority of the common people back those managers due to lack of awareness especially political awareness. As the virus spreads, it resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, and fanatical approach to further divide and weakens the people especially the youth – means flagging the collective betterment of society.
The role of youth in defying traditional political thoughts cannot be overlooked. Whether it is a religious monopoly or political dominance of elite class, the youth always come forward to show their restlessness. Two world leaders: Emmanuel Macron- the French president, and Justin Trudeau- the Prime Minister of Canada, are two examples of young leadership who are playing their roles to heal the wounds of those who are badly affected by ISIS in the Middle East. The second instance is the youth of neighboring country – Iran. The youth of Iran kept rejecting the radicalism in past elections.
The recent results of the election held in May 2017 indicate that youth was the key factor of President Rouhani’s triumph. Rouhani’s opponent represented the Combatant Clergy Association, a radical and conservation party. It is the youth of the United States of America that rejected the extreme rules of President Donald Trump’s government and pressurized him to stop harassing the travelers of seven banned Muslim countries at their airports.
Taking the example of Pakistan, the majority of youth are coming forward to talk against status quo. They are standing up against the so-called propaganda that Islam is in danger and it needs sacrifices of all sorts including of wealth and souls.
Youth accepted ‘Pakistan comes First’ policy- introduced by former Chief Executive Pervaiz Musharaf- who then intuited his popularity among them. It is young woman Malala, who stands for more schooling for all children than expenditures on wars. Winning the noble prize in the category of peace is a proof that her struggle and determination is to change the world through education for the communal betterment. There are thousands of thousands young men and women, who stand against intolerance and bigotry all over the world and are still suffering inappropriate torture and threats by state and non-state elements. Raif Badawi, a young blogger who challenges Saudi monarchy disguised under Wahhabism, is another icon of transformation. Young Saudi girls successfully convinced the regime to change their policy regarding their driving permits. Recently, Muhammad Suleman Al Saud, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia has also backed the emotions of millions of youth by expressing his modern concerns against the outdated opinions of his predecessors.
In recent ICC world cup 2017, it was noticeably observed that youth of both countries – Pakistan and India foiled the attempt of extremists to take it as a victory of Muslims over Hindus or war between two countries.
Moreover, young supporters of cricket teams celebrated victory together taking all the political, religious, sectarian differences aside.
Surprisingly, many young students celebrated the success of Pakistan in India too. Undeniably, the reaction to those celebrations by the Indian government itself has stated extremism; nevertheless, the moment was an effort to defeat the extremism and hatred.
Many videos went viral on social media showing the Indian and Pakistani cricket fans watching the match together with full zeal and mutual respect for each other. Hundreds of thousands of young fans in both countries unconditionally love their celebrities regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, and country. Pakistani youth also keep watching Indian movies and listen to the famous Indian bands even if there are tense situations on the borders of both countries.
Similarly, young Pakistani drama actors and singers are equally popular among Indian youth. Lately, young actors from Pakistan successfully accomplished their movies and concerts in India with remarkable applause and appreciation from the youth. Sadly, they could not continue because of political and diplomatic discomfort between two countries.
Such personal values are turning into core values of various industries and organizations by retaining the common resemblances of talent in the field of art, culture, sports, and social gatherings. Hopefully, these values of amity and open-mindedness would breed the culture of tolerance and recognition in the future. Contrary to the tension on the government level, young Pakistani and Indian students started a campaign on social media to denounce such moves.
Displaying the real emotions of common people, they took the photographs with a poster mentioned: “I am Indian/Pakistani and I don’t hate Pakistan/ India”. The trend went viral and hundreds of thousands of students started uploading their photographs with the same message. The message turned so strong and appealing on the social media, even the mainstream media could not resist covering it. Such actions initiated by the youth in both countries show their sensitivity and seriousness to promote love, peace, harmony, and tolerance.
Aristotle said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference”. Some of the remarkable differences seemed recently among youth performing its positive role in the political and non-political mainstream of Pakistan. From dreaming of ‘New Pakistan’ to exploring the new tactics in various platforms, from social media to blog writing, from Malala Yousafzai to Faisal Edhi, from young blood of Hazara tribe in Quetta to Jibran Nasir and Sayed Naveed Shah in Karachi; the ‘traits’ of leadership are turning into ‘process’ of leadership. The youth started to be leaders of tomorrow to ensure that they are clear on one agenda to not accept immoderation in any shape and size.
I personally, cannot forget the wave of resistance against intolerance and extremism after two major incidences; the first was an attack on Army Public School in Peshawar and second was brutal murder of Mashal Khan, a student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan. In the former case, many young leaders of civil society showed up in front of Lal Masjid in Islamabad to condemn the stand of Molvi Abdul Aziz for attackers. They compelled the government and stakeholders to draw the line between the supporters of extremists and those who are against them. In the second case, youth came out from all over the country to show their solidarity with the victim’s family and demanded from the higher authorities to take dire action against such barbarity.
Assisting and empowering the youth to run authentic leadership, mentoring programs and support arts and sports to enhance equity and inclusion have been felt worldwide. On April 2015, during a meeting of the Security Council on maintenance of international peace and security, former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon highlighted the idea of empowering youth by emphasizing the world leaders to ponder young people as a “Promise- Not Peril”.
The word promise represents hope, dream, vision, and commitment to see bright and better future, but unfortunately, socio-political and eco-political differences between developed countries and developing countries are creating a notable lack of resources, unemployment, and illiteracy in third world countries. As the result, impatience emerges among youth that leads them to be targeted easily for terrorism. Teenagers run after the deceptive promise of paradise portrayed by religious bigots. Failing in this world, adults rely on other promises of future world cited in the sermons of Mullah.
Besides religious exploitation, many other problems are deep-rooted in the crises of identity, future uncertainty, and social insecurity. Commercialization and materialism have high jacked the youth of today. Majority of students want to become the smart salesman or businessman but very few pursue to become a poet, historian, and writer. They believe that money is more important than passion and success.
Values, moral principles, and human integrity are defeated in the race of materialism. To get rid of materialistic race in our lives, the government should invest huge amount and energy to carry scientific studies in the field of behavioral sciences. All demeanors in government sectors and non-government sectors must be revisited to discourage nepotism, biases, and sense of superiority.
To effectively counter the threat of poverty and peace, the socio-economic root causes including lack of national youth policy, and susceptibility to violent extremists must be addressed. Governments should facilitate the participation of young people in public life and discourse. Expression of thoughts and free speech should be given space in our society with conditions that nobody would be allowed to hurt the feelings and rituals of others. The culture of open discussion must be started to encourage knowledge that must be based on reasons and logic. Youngsters should be encouraged to ask questions and participate with the right of disagreement and rebuttal without any fear of possible allegations of blasphemy or perfidy from another side.
Moreover, scientific knowledge and scientific way of thinking should be implemented in our education and research institutes with a grand vision to help the humanity of the whole world without difference of race, religion, and nationality. The core concept of humanity must be highlighted and owned completely to share the common goal of betterment of all. Government must follow strict rule and regulations to follow three main core value of Respect, justice and relationship. With respect, as a national core value, government and executive authorities must make sure that every single person deserve due respect regardless of his race, religion, and assigned sort of service.
With justice, our youth will get their trust and respect restored to government and into the system. Thus, chances of extreme behaviors among them could be curtailed. With the relationship, youth can understand the value of bond more than the value of resources. The additional importance given to relationships will increase caring and share among the members of society through emotional intelligence. Thus, the culture of teamwork would be promoted. According to Thompson (2014), emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the emotions in ourselves and others to predict the behaviors and performances of team members.
Therefore, it is highly expected that due to the promotion of relationships, we can promote a high standard of teamwork in our institutes followed by emotional recognition of team members. Once the emotional behaviors are recognized and regularized then the extremism and extreme behaviors are controlled through collaborative solutions. It is highly recommended that the government of Pakistan may start an internship program for madrasa students in well-reputed institutions where they can indulge with the college students.
Such program would create a comparative environment of study, dialogue, and discussions among different pupils and faculties to share their thoughts instead of imposing them on each other.
Secondly, Sufism and Sufi music should be promoted at government level to convey the message of peace, brotherhood, and tolerance.
Thirdly, complete administrative autonomy should be given to provinces especially to small provinces to make their own educational curriculum at all levels according to their regional and social set up. Balochistan province should be taken as test case where extremism prevails in its various shapes including religious extremism and socio-political extremism.
To take the Baloch young leadership into confidence, and to restore the trust of Baloch youth into the federation, inter-provincial delegations of students at all levels should be offered an exchange program to the educational institutions in Baluchistan. It is highly recommended to make such exchange programs compulsory for all college and university students at least once in their degree programs. The same policy should be implemented for the students of Baluchistan too to attend at least one semester in another province.
Furthermore, Ministry of Culture and Broadcast must make sure that the promotion of vulgarity and commercialization is not taking place in our drama serials and television programs. Our young girls in particular, easily get victimized of fantasy romanticism where they set a high expectation in their lives. Such high expectations lead them to form uncompromised mental models which are another sort of extremism.
Last but not least, the youth themselves should come forward to be models for others. They should set examples of resistance to extremism and intolerance. They may wisely choose to either be Mashal Khan or his murderers. To either become Malala Yousafzai or Molvi Fazalullah, to either become security analyst or security risk, to either be flexible in their behaviors or extremist.