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    Opinion on Article in Dawn?

    This article appeared in Dawn. Can someone who is in Pakistan (how about you Spock?) please comment on what this guy is writing. If there are guys visiting Cyber Cafes, I wish we would hear more from them on this site.

    Shattered dreams

    By M.Y. Khan

    Pakistani youngsters are in disarray. They see no bright future for themselves in this country or abroad. Previously, most of them used to harbour the hope of making it big in either America or Europe. However, in the post-September 11 scenario, even these hopes look bleak as Western governments are now taking tough measures to discourage new, legal or illegal, prospective migrants. 'Anti-Muslim' and 'anti-Asian' sentiment is now prevalent across the Western world.

    Those who visit North America and Europe frequently talk of negative attitude of immigration clerks, even towards businessman and well-groomed rich bureaucrats. Recently at Larnaka, Cyprus, Pakistani doctors with valid travel documents were stopped and questioned for hours. A few of them were even British nationals, but they were not spared. When, according to a doctor who was part of the group, the immigration clerk heard 'Pakistan' he rushed to his boss, who came running. He called his superiors on the phone and decided to detain the Pakistanis for questioning.

    Strangely, Pakistanis are suffering this humiliation at a time when they are an important ally of America and the British, in their war against terrorism. Instead of being the privileged class, they have become the victims through no fault of their own. Both the people and authorities in these countries tend to dislike Pakistanis. They have already put scores of restrictions on issuance of visit visas. And after the recent blasts in Karachi, one can hardly look at the US Consulate. The police and the rangers, standing nearby, never allow anyone to get close to the building. The situation at the British Deputy High Commission is no different. Some visa sections were already closed. The US visa, once rightly considered a lottery, is almost impossible to get. It is not easy to secure a student visa either.

    Visa was no problem for the influential and the rich of Pakistan. It was usually delivered at their doorsteps. And those who are already successful in Pakistan will notgo and work as a dish cleaner or butcher in restaurants and shops in the West. There are young educated boys from all over Pakistan who are dying to leave for greener pastures and make their families back home happy. True, many dreams came through during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. But the advent of a new century proved disastrous for both the dreamers and the dream merchants. It is a tough game now. Average Pakistani carries a label and whatever it is, it is not good. Corrupt was not enough, so they were labelled as a security threat, almost amounting to terrorists.

    True, 9/11 changed the world. But it disturbed the world of Pakistani boys and girls who wished to go abraod. Now they seem destined to face the grim realities of life in Pakistani cities. Jobs are hard to come by. At an average, more than 5,000 qualified people apply for 10 to 20 positions. There is an army of jobless youngsters roaming the city streets. Some are tired of applying again and again. For jobless persons it costs a lot. There has been a ban on government jobs for the last ten years. There is no point in boasting about progress and development when a whole decade has passed without relaxing a ban on official jobs. Even government positions are being provided on contract for two to three years, in some cases even for six to ten months. "What is the future here?" majority of the young people ask in disgust. There is no answer. Their parents are dumb, the government is silent. They can make no noise, there is a ban on demonstration. These youngsters can do nothing except curse themselves day and night. There is no dearth of cynics in this country.

    What can the Government of Pakistan do in this regard? Well, for starters, Islamabad can change its priorities. There was no need to spend so much on the referendum. Now a lot of the depleted exchequers money will be wasted in an exercise to choose a few hundred, powerful and influential people who will play with the destiny of this nation in the name of democracy. Democratic governments tend to spend fortune on showcase cosmetic projects and cruelly ignore the jobless army of the nation. While this government is not prepared to provide jobs to them, it showers double jobs to its uniformed personnel.

    No nation can dream of any progress when its youngsters are down and out. It is tragic. Thousands of Pakistani youth now seek refuge in cyber cafes and find solace in chatting. Some tend to live in a world of make-believe. Something has to be done to infuse hope in them. Right now, they are being fleeced by unscrupulous immigration consultants and agents who promise to send them to the 'promised land'. Many are cheated out of their hard-earned savings and never reach their destination. Those who do, are usually caught and sent back home.

    I pray for the day when conditions are so good in Pakistan that no one dreams of going abroad. It is a nightmare after 9/11.

    With recent US aid to Pakistan and the underlying jobless problem, without prospect of immigration, Musharraf must be forced to respond to the problem domestically. Can no one petition the Government about the issue? Terrorist unrest meets general unrest and the "General" has a larger conundrum.


      I agree wholeheartedly with the author of this article. Although the extremists and Osama have hurt the stature of educated Pakistanis the most, the US has done nothing positive in this regards. Most educated Pakistanis, with rationale approaches are viewed with suspicion when they go to the US and the chances of them landing jobs in the US would be remote considering the recession there.

      Even 50-100 students from the best two or three engineering colleges in Pakistan, who have the distinction of being selected on merit out of 15,000 students in merits tests are jobless in Pakistan, let alone the thousands of other graduates. This introduces a sense of extreme frustration inside them. This frustration can lead to many negative things, which can be directed into a series of moves that are harmlful to the nation.

      I am also amongst these students, whose parents have spent a lot of money on my education, and have made sacrifices to see their children end up landing good jobs and handsome salaries, but the present situation in Pakistan does not depict such a future for us. How will we ever get a chance to serve Pakistan with such conditions? So its about time Mr. Atta stopped saying things like 'We have achieved pinnacles in IT' at the ITCN conference, when 95% of the IT graduates are jobless and actually do something positive. & thanks to our fundo/extremist brothers, all prospective foriegn investment has shyed away.