Like many other South Asian countries, Pakistan is a young country. According to a study on Pakistan’s demography by Germany’s university of Bremen in late 2007, per capita income has gone up from $600 in 1979 (when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged) to $2600 in 2007, and that between 30-40% of the nation’s male population was between 15-29 years of age. At the same time, jobs have shrunk significantly. That is why, analysts say, frustrated young Pakistani men have been increasingly attracted to and recruited by radical groups and terror organizations such as the Taliban.
Pakistani society is in a state of ferment today for several reasons, not least because of the constant influx of drugs and arms from Afghanistan as well as several sympathetic co-religionists in the Arab world. However, unlike the Arab world, Pakistan’s youth tilts towards a gentler version of Islam, which means that music and films are an integral part of life. Young Pakistani singers like Atif have made their mark across South Asia, and especially in Bollywood. And although Pakistani girls, on the streets of Lahore and Islamabad, wear several more layers of clothing when compared to their counterparts in Delhi and Mumbai, truth is, there’s an intrinsic modesty that comes with growing up in god-fearing homes that more cosmopolitan cities in South Asia may have moved away from — a modesty that cuts across both class and age barriers.
Moreover, while class differences may often place students in different universes in the same Pakistani city, such as in Lahore, here’s an interesting thought : even within their relatively cloistered surroundings, Pakistan’s young men and women are openly willing to question their place in their nation’s destiny.