Islamabad: A staggering 40 million of Pakistan`s 84.3 million voters are aged between 18 and 35 and have the "potential to change the country`s political landscape", said a leading daily.
An editorial in the Dawn Monday cited Election Commission`s data that showed in the upcoming elections, "the votes of the young will matter and will have the potential to change the country`s political landscape".
That is, of course, if the youth go out and vote, it added.
As per the age-wise breakdown of the electoral rolls, 40 million out of 84.3 million voters are aged between 18 and 35. The 18-25 age bracket consists of 16.2 million voters while the 26-35 group, which contains 23.8 million voters, constitutes the biggest chunk out of six age groupings.
"Yet despite the numbers, there is little to show that political parties, at least the older, more established ones, have done much to attract young voters," said the daily.
It added that when established parties have targeted the youth, "it has been through laptop schemes and other such gimmicks. They have forwarded hardly any solid policy prescriptions concerning the issues the youth face".
The editorial cautioned political parties that if they want to stay relevant and include this huge bloc of voters in the democratic project, "they will have to come to terms with this demographic reality".
"This must especially be reflected in party manifesto. The main problems that confront young people - equitable access to education, health and job opportunities - need to be addressed," it said.
It went on to say that the young voter of today is quite well-informed and "parties will need to court young Pakistanis through substantive solutions and not through the charisma of leaders or glittering promises".
"...Convincing young voters that their voices matter and mobilising them is something the parties will have to work harder at," it added.