News / Asia

Survey: Most Young Pakistanis Pessimistic as Economy Struggles

Supporters of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) shout slogans during a rally in Lahore, March 23, 2013.
Supporters of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) shout slogans during a rally in Lahore, March 23, 2013.
Nearly 100 percent of young Pakistanis are pessimistic about the future and believe their country is headed in the wrong direction, a survey released on Wednesday found.

A British Council study, entitled "Next Generation Goes to The Ballot Box," also showed that only one in five young adults expect their economic situation to improve over the next year.

The findings make for disturbing reading for politicians who are trying to win over Pakistanis ahead of a May 11 general election.

Pakistan's elected government completed its full five-year term last month, the first in the country's turbulent history to do so.

While that may have bolstered the young democracy, a growing number of Pakistanis are wondering if their leaders will ever tackle poverty, crippling power cuts, corruption and a Taliban insurgency.

"Pessimism is fast becoming a defining trait of Pakistan's next generation," said the British Council, which defined young people as between 18 and 29-years-old.

"Economic factors appear to be the most important driver in the next generation's rising pessimism," said the council, which is partly funded by the British government and promotes British education, culture and business abroad.

Critics say Pakistani politicians are often too distracted to fix the nuclear-armed country's problems.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 66-year-history, is widely seen as the most efficient institution in the South Asian nation.

Politicians are often consumed by tension with an increasingly interventionist Supreme Court or the army and spend little time worrying about the economy, critics say.

In 2008, Pakistan averted a balance of payments crisis by securing an $11 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan package, but the IMF suspended it in 2011 after economic and reform targets, including widening a miniscule tax base, were missed.

Little Confidence

The Asian Development Bank, one of Pakistan's biggest lenders, predicts Pakistan will have to lean on the IMF again before the end of the year for up to $9 billion.

The Taliban, who are waging a violent campaign to topple the U.S.-backed government, often recruits young jobless men who have grown disillusioned with the state.

"Unfortunately, most young people feel that prosperity is sliding further from their grasp," the British Council said. "Over two-thirds of the next generation think they are now worse off than they were."

Rising prices are the biggest concern.

A supporter of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) with party flags painted on his face attends a rally in Lahore, March 23, 2013.A supporter of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) with party flags painted on his face attends a rally in Lahore, March 23, 2013.
A supporter of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) with party flags painted on his face attends a rally in Lahore, March 23, 2013.
A supporter of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) with party flags painted on his face attends a rally in Lahore, March 23, 2013.
"The next generation has been shaped by its experience of increasingly expensive food, energy and other commodities. An overwhelming majority report pressure on the living standards of themselves and their families," said the council.

Pakistanis, long accustomed to dynastic politics or military rule, have few new candidates to choose from in the election.

A former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is seen as the front runner. But he could face tough competition from the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan had gained some popularity but analysts say his appeal appears to have faded.

"Young people have very low levels of confidence in the institutions - government, parliament, political parties - most responsible for setting the country's direction," said the survey.

"In contrast, the justice system and the media have higher approval ratings, as does Pakistan's armed forces."

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Comment Sorting
by: wajih from: houston
April 09, 2013 4:38 AM
The writer of this article failed to mention that 30 million new voter age 18 to 30 is voting for the first time and overwhelmingly support pakistan tehreek insaf and imran khan is the most popular leader

April 02, 2013 11:43 PM
The main problem in Pakistan is lack of accountability. Different parties came during the history of Pakistan and most of them spend their energy to prolong their power and created so many problems for poor Pakistani as to justify their stay in power. For example last Govt of PPP did nothing except created UNLIMITED problems for poor Pakistani. PPP never serious to solve the problem rather they spend their energy to create mess in all parts of life. Even they purchased ARMY,ISI,CID and all instituions to create Religious,Political killing in Pakistan. We have seen the END of those KILLERS let us wait and see the END of current KILLERSSSSSSSSS.

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