Just two days are until the general elections of 2024, and a huge influx of young voters especially under the age of 25 is likely to decide the future landscape of the country. In a recent survey conducted by IPSOS Pakistan for the voice of Americans, some interesting trends have been observed regarding the thinking of the Youth of the country as far as the elections and the current political dynamics of the country are concerned. The survey has revealed that the Pakistan Army has garnered the highest level of trust among other institutions of the state, with a staggering 74 percent approval rating. Conversely, the election commission emerged as the least trusted institution among the eight considered. The survey, titled ‘Political Participation Landscape of Pakistani Youth,’ encompassed 2,050 respondents aged 18-34 from various regions of the country, as reported by The News International.

Following the Pakistan Army, the Supreme Court ranked as the second most trusted institution, with a 58 percent approval rating, while the media secured the third position in terms of trustworthiness. With the Pakistan Army historically influential in security and foreign policy matters, it has maintained a significant role in the nation’s governance, having governed the country through several periods of military rule.

Additionally, the survey shed light on the public perception of political parties, indicating a 50 percent approval rating among respondents. Notably, opinions were divided regarding the media’s coverage of pertinent issues, with 2 in 5 individuals expressing skepticism about its efficacy, particularly among males and the affluent, as highlighted in the report.

Regarding electoral integrity, the majority of young Pakistanis surveyed expressed confidence in the fairness of the upcoming 2024 elections, with two-thirds expressing belief in their impartiality. Furthermore, one-third of participants acknowledged the possibility of foreign or international influences impacting the performance of the Pakistani government, reflecting a sentiment of ‘international influence’ on the nation, as stated in the report.

Additionally, an overwhelming 75 percent of the surveyed individuals, equivalent to 3 out of 4 respondents, are optimistic that the upcoming elections will guide the nation in the correct trajectory, while 2 out of 3 anticipate that these elections will uphold fairness and freedom. Moreover, the report highlights that a striking 88 percent of participants deem their vote to be significant.

Regarding political engagement, only 54 percent of the youth stated that they actively stay informed about political developments, candidates, and their agendas within their respective constituencies. Moreover, a mere 29 percent expressed their support for specific politicians and political parties, intending to participate in their rallies and events. However, when queried about their voting intentions for the February 8 general elections, a substantial 70 percent affirmed their commitment to cast their votes.

Furthermore, the survey indicates a noteworthy trend of shifting political affiliations among the youth, with 1 in 5 respondents transitioning their preferred party allegiance between 2018 and 2024. While 78 percent asserted their intent to maintain allegiance to their current party, 22 percent expressed an inclination to switch to a different political affiliation.

The Ipsos survey also highlights a prevalent sentiment among 3 in 5 young Pakistanis, who feel that political leaders fail to grasp their concerns or priorities adequately. Notably, this sentiment is more pronounced among females, rural residents, and individuals in Islamabad.

Regarding information sources, television, social media, and word of mouth emerged as the most favored mediums among Pakistani youth. The survey indicates a gender disparity in social media usage, with females exhibiting a preference for television over males, who tend to favor social media platforms for news consumption. Notably, WhatsApp emerged as the most widely used social media platform among youth, followed by Facebook, with Twitter lagging at 8 percent usage.

In terms of salient issues, economic concerns overshadow other considerations, with education and healthcare emerging as the top priorities for respondents. Notably, inflation was identified as the primary national concern by 70 percent of participants. Moreover, the survey underscores the youth’s emphasis on health and education, while military intervention in politics is perceived as of minimal significance, according to the findings.

Related: Why do University Students need to Vote on 8th February?

The writer, Muhammad Saad, is an M.Phil scholar of Political Science at GCU Lahore.

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