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Ever Lasting Bond: Youth in Armed Forces

By Iftikhar Hussain Jazib

Iftikhar Hussain Jazib

“My young friends, students who are present here, let me tell you as one who has always had love and affection for you, who has served you for ten years faithfully and loyally, let me give you this word of warning: you will be making the greatest mistake if you allow yourself to be exploited by one political party or another. Your main occupation should be in fairness to yourself, in fairness to your parents, in fairness to the state to devote your attention to your studies.” (Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.)

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Golden words of father of the nation are a beacon of light for youth and students, they must remove everything that causes distractions in their studies in fairness to own self. On another occasion, Quaid said: “Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students who have always been in the forefront in the hour of trial and need. You are the nation’s leaders of tomorrow and you must fully equip yourself by discipline, education and training for the arduous task lying ahead of you. You should realise the magnitude of your responsibility and be ready to bear it.” Quaid’s vision for Pakistan and its youth is well incorporated in the strategy of Armed Forces and Pakistan Army is providing the best opportunities for education and professional career for the youth.

According to a census, around 65% Pakistan’s population is below the age of 30. This youth bulge could be transformed into human capital through education and training for development. Army Public School system, cadet colleges, medical colleges, Engineering colleges and universities are providing best services for nation building. The institutions like Cadet College Hasan Abdal and NUST have earned international fame, on the other hand, Army has launched many schools and colleges in Tribal Districts of KP and Balochistan with national urgency to uplift the youth of backward areas. Equality is the hallmark of these institutions and students from all social and financial backgrounds are enjoying modern learning facilities.

In fact, solely the educational services provided by Armed Forces reflect that our youth is an essential part of planning and development. However, some individuals and parties are subverting youth for political expediencies, there is a need to show prudence to refute negative propaganda. Social media platforms provide enormous space to anti-social elements to remain anonymous, and to disseminate misinformation with unusual speed and connectivity. There are many instances in which political movements and elections in a country were manipulated by another country through social media. Therefore, we also believe that such campaigns against Armed Forces of Pakistan are nefarious design of inimical states and we should create awareness to discredit them.

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Armed Forces also provide good professional career for our youth. Pakistan Army Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) recruit thousands of young aspirants every year. Under graduate, graduate, doctors, engineers etc all find suitable opportunities and equal chance to grow in a merit-based system. Young lady officers are now a proud part of this family. Army had launched special recruitment plans for the youth of Tribal Districts of KP and backward areas of Balochistan for encouragement. This national integration is also a reflection of Quaid’s vision, he said, “We are now all Pakistanis, not Baloch, Pathans, Sindhis, Bengalis, Punjabis and so on, and as Pakistanis you must feel, behave and act and you should be proud to be known as Pakistanis and nothing else.” These words of Quaid have got more importance in the era of fragmentation through social media platforms.

Our Armed Forces are always in the need of youth, no doubt our youth also keep them closest to heart. However, psychological war with its new means is a challenge to this bond. Moreover, globalization has softened borders and local groups often have international agenda, the best option for our youth is to stay away from dirty politics and anti-social social media campaigns. Perhaps, a sporting activity is a better use of leisure, and it will boost physical and mental health as well, and a healthy youth is also the necessity of our military.

A cautious participation in social media activities after gaining the knowledge of safe surfing practices may be a healthy approach. Criminal networks exploit Twitter and Facebook etc for private data theft, therefore, the protection of personal information must be ensured. Influence operations and sponsored marketing campaigns target users for online shopping spree often causing financial burden. Perhaps the most evil use of the social media websites has been made by the terrorists by radicalising youth for terrorist activities. Unfortunately, many young boys and girls from Pakistan have become victim of terrorist outfits online recruitment campaigns resulting in serious troubles for them, and tragedies for their families.

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Against this backdrop, the evil nature of organised social media campaigns to malign Armed Forces of Pakistan becomes very clear and it is responsibility of our youth to defend our institutions. Many countries including Pakistan are making strict laws to counter criminal use of social media forums, a retweet or Facebook post sharing could lead to serious legal complications. Therefore, the awareness of laws governing cyber space is necessary to avoid troubles.

Military services are always in the need of young blood and many commissioned officers retire in the youthful time of their life after completing their service years. These commanding administrators and apt managers join civil departments and private firms to continue their service for the country. Hence, the bond between our youth and Armed Forces is long-lasting and opponents could not shake it.

 

The writer is M.Phil in International Relations (IR) from Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad and a freelance contributor, and he tweets as @radiant_j_007

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