On the last day of 2022, more than 30,000 male and female applicants from across Pakistan flocked to the capital in order to appear for a written test for the job of a constable (BS-07) in the Islamabad police force. The stadium at which the test was held was packed to the brim, filled as if a football match was about to commence. However, there were only 1,667 vacant positions.

Seats for this post are allocated on open merit and the regional quota is further subdivided for women and minorities. All the candidates had to have completed their matric and had to pass an endurance test, after which the shortlisted candidates were called for the written test.

The reality is that the number of people who turned up for the written test would have been a lot higher if there were no physical criteria which had to be met. This episode is an alarming and depressing reminder of the limited opportunities that are available to the formally educated youth of Pakistan and serves as a microcosm of the issues they are facing.

Much has been written in the media by leading economists, former finance ministers and State Bank governors about the macroeconomic challenges Pakistan is currently confronting. However, the issue of employment generation and job creation has often been overlooked, or simply avoided, since we are grappling with the larger and more immediate questions about debt repayment, the boom-and-bust cycle and the country's precarious flirtation with default.

Although Pakistan is facing many challenges on the economic front, youth unemployment might be one of the most dangerous ones. Not only does it compound the country's macroeconomic issues but it also leads to the much dreaded 'brain drain'

Ultimately, only the private sector can offer a sustainable solution to job creation in Pakistan. Hence, it is imperative that the public sector and spheres of governance ensure that a suitable environment is created for business, in which the private sector can grow and thrive.

But there are certain infrastructural and regulatory obstacles that keep the private sector from growing in the country and thus leave a large chunk of Pakistan's educated youth unemployed.

Power outages, a lack of investment in research and development and a volatile political situation are some of the factors which have limited the employment opportunities that are created for Pakistan's youth. Another major employment challenge facing Pakistan is that a large portion of the...

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