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Unleashing the Potential of a Young Pakistan

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Unleashing the Potential of a Young Pakistan

By Khalid Hussain, Head of Foundation Development, HDF Pakistan

UNDP Pakistan has launched its second National Human Development Report - Unleashing the potential of a Young Pakistan authored by Dr. Adil Najam and Dr. Faisal Bari. This is Pakistan’s first National Human Development Report in over a decade. The last one in 2003, the NHDR on Poverty, focusing on growth and governance, was authored by Dr. Akmal Hussain.

The Pakistan Human Development Report (HDR) is primarily a policy advocacy tool placing people, instead of the economy, at the centre of development. UNDP uses it to introduce the conceptual framework of human development in national policy discussions. It seeks to advance human well-being by creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential exercising their own choices for a productive, creative, and happy life.

The new Pakistan HDR focuses on the youth. Pakistan has the largest generation of young people ever in its history. Nearly two-third of its total population is under 30 years of age including children under 15 who will be tomorrow's youth. This is a critical force for shaping human development.
Neil Buhne, the UN Resident Coordinator told the press, “Never have the opportunities for social, economic and political progress been so great. Nor have the challenges facing us ever been more pressing.” Dr, Adil Najam, Lead Author of the NHDR said, “The future of Pakistan – one way or the other – will be determined by those who are between 15 and 29 years of age today.”

This ‘youth bulge' can be a dividend or a disaster for the country. The outcome depends on Pakistan’s investment in youth. If they get quality education, quality employment, and meaningful engagement opportunities, the country can take off economically. Else, a nightmare is in the offing.

One is reminded of what Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the man behind the Human Development framework, once famously said: “The real wealth of a nation is its people. And the purpose of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy, and creative lives. This simple but powerful truth is too often forgotten in the pursuit of material and financial wealth”

The HDR looks at Pakistan’s human development challenges and opportunities from the prism of youth. The authors focus on how to improve human development outcomes. A first-rate analysis leads to evidence-based policy recommendations looking at three key drivers: quality education, gainful employment and meaningful engagement. The authors believe, these levers of change can harness the potential of young people and catapult Pakistan on the path of greater human development.

Infographics: UNDP Pakistan
Full report can be found online