The Federal Government has, reportedly, allocated around 8.231 million rupees for construction of a “Youth Development Centre” in the capital city of Gilgit – Baltistan. The planners deserve praise for taking this important, overdue, step towards holistic development of the younger generations of the region.
Globally, such centres play a pivotal role in youth development, by creating an enabling and rewarding environment, through trainings in life skills, health, social care, sports and arts. Some centre also offer specialized courses in fields related to the fields.
Rationally speaking, the relevant ministry and department shall consult the youth of Gilgit – Baltistan and their existing representative organizations to get their inputs on how the centre may function and which of their needs it may cater. For our part, we think that the Youth Development Centre in Gilgit may
1. Life Skills Training and Counselling (Self esteem, leadership, prevention of drug abuse, personal care etc.)
2. Civic Engagement (Social care, volunteerism, citizenship, peace, sectarian harmony)
3. Sports and Fitness (International and local games and exercises)
4. Arts (Music, Fine Arts, Creative Writing, Digital Media etc.)
5. Research and publication (pertaining to youth issues)
In Gilgit – Baltistan’s context, the need for interventions in the above areas is of prime importance because our society, economy, politics and culture are going through a period of rapid change, under internal and external influences.
In the past a very large number of GB youth may not have been able to realize their true potentials due to lack of enabling facilities, strategies and vision at the government and community levels. Hundreds of active young minds have been consumed by the fire of sectarian and other centrifugal propaganda, due to lack of alternate thoughts and views, leading our region towards chaos and mayhem, from time to time.
A very large section of our youth have lived, are living, their lives without productively engaging with the society because the enabling environment for nurturing such agency at a tender age did not exist.
This youth centre, and others that may be established in the future, shall play a proactive role in engaging the youth, if we are to save our coming generations from the menaces of sectarianism, regionalism and ethnocentrism.
It goes without saying that the centre shall operate above all gender biases prevalent in our societies. In a nutshell, the youth development centre in Gilgit should strive to be an open, accessible, creative and safe social space for the youth.
That the first step towards positively engaging the youth has already been taken is a highly welcome step. It can positively be expected from the energetic leaders concerned with youth, specially Advisor to Chief Minister on Youth Affairs, Ms. Sadia Danish and GB Secretary for Youth Affairs and Sports, Mr. Imran Sikandar Baloch, that the youth development centre will be developed into a model of its kind, which can then be gradually replicated in other parts of the region.