Painful adjustments.

Byline: Umair Javed

THAT the next three years (at least) are going to be tough for the country is a now a well-established fact. The burden of terrible macroeconomic policies in recent years and a multi-decade-long crisis of productivity is making its way for another painful period of structural-adjustment induced 'correction'.

As with such episodes from the recent past 1999-2001, 2008-2011 there are those who will remain somewhat insulated from the violence of a slowing economy. But for most who subsist outside of the narrow band of the top three to five per cent of earners in this country, the coming months will be varying degrees of oppressive.

Inevitably, much of the discussion so far props up the economy as an abstract entity that requires technocratic and dispassionate analysis. What is often missed out is the lived experience of those on the reAAceiving end of this abstraction. While even the IMF has been compelled to talk about increased social protection for the most vulnerable through existing mechanisms such as BISP, there is not much discussion on how other segments will experience (and adapt) to the coming crunch. One such demographic is young university graduates who are just about to enter, or have recently entered, the labour market.

In recent years, the subject of what young people in Pakistan are thinking and doing has gradually garnered more attention. The sheer demographic weiAAght of our young population 64pc under the age of 30 and changing spatial and cultural trends thrAAough urbanisation and increased global connectivity justifies this focus. Simply put, if one is interested in analysing the country's future, he or she needs to look at what the bulk of the population is experiencing.

In order to analyse the country's future, we need to look at what the bulk of its population is experiencing.

Through my occupation, I remain in contact with a small (and largely privileged) section of the young urban population. In recent weeks, their sense of aspiration mixed with anxiety at the country's economic condition has been palpable all around, and is now particularly pronounced for those graduating in the coming months. Those who are otherwise insulated by their socioeconomic background, are burdened by lofty ambitions and heightened expectations both of which may remain unmet in a contracting labour market.

Now take this predicament and amplify it many times over. This is what a significantly larger section of the urban...

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