The Role of Students
“On this occasion, the thought that is naturally uppermost in my mind is the support and help that the movement for the achievement of Pakistan received from the student community, particularly of this Province. I cannot help feeling that the unequivocal and unmistakable decision of the people of this Province to join Pakistan, which was given through the referendum held last year, was helped considerably by the contribution made by the students.”
- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam
- Speech: Responsibilities of the youth
- Context: Speech in reply to the address presented by the Students of Islamia College, Peshawar
Significant contributions were made by the student community to achieve Pakistan. Pakistan is still a nascent democracy with frequent cycles of political instability and economic downturns.
We don’t have many success stories that have resulted in meaningful and sustained economic, social and political progress and for these reasons, we turn to our magnificent history of national freedom which serves as an inspiration for students to discover their own agency and power to participate in the valiant struggle of building up Pakistan into a progressive, democratic and economically prosperous nation.
Students ought to focus on their academic careers and acquire knowledge in the nation's most needed areas (e.g. solving water scarcity, climate change and building world-class companies that focus on education, agriculture and healthcare, etc). Beyond academic pursuits, students have the time advantage to work on key projects to help lay down the groundwork and foundation for a change of ideas and values. Creative application of education can include building certain tools that help the political process. Here are some examples of projects that students can take on to play a larger role in Pakistan:
Create a massive dataset that captures population insights per every district per each province. This will allow us to understand the values, emotions and attitudes of different communities in different locations and in turn, enable us to create tailored campaigns and messaging to mobilize the people towards progressive and democratic ideals.
Build fundraising platforms that enable us to access massive phone banks and mailing lists that cover every district in Pakistan to be able to raise funds and empower student for civic engagement.
Launch fact-checking platforms that efficiently track statements made by politicians and confirm their factual accuracy. This can be a small step in helping the people understand the truth and create a fact-based culture.
Design transparency engines that track the progress of legislation in the parliament and also, report on implementation and adoption of passed legislation.
Students can rise to the occasion, focus on their education and use it to amplify civic engagement and self-organization to build a transparent, accountable and fact-based political culture. Students can play an active role for economic progress by applying their education to building businesses that focus on innovation and create new markets. For example, the company DoorDash started out as a class project which is now the largest last mile logistics service for food-delivery in America valued at ~$30Bn in 2020. We must remember that “the century of revolution in the United States* after the Civil War was economic, not political, freeing households from an unremitting daily grind of painful manual labor, household drudgery, darkness, isolation, and early death. Only one hundred years later, daily life had changed beyond recognition.”
* Source: Robert Gordon, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S Standard of Living Since the Civil War.
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