Definition of Youth

The Punjab Youth Policy (2012) states that the “Pakistani official standards” defines youth as between 15-29 years of age.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • --
  • XX
  • Female
  • 16
  • --
  • XX

  • No data for marriage with parental consent. Homosexual acts are illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
The minimum age of 12 does not apply to minors found involved in terrorist activities. Source:  The Express Tribune

Majority Age


Source: Penal Code (1860)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 79.73% Male (15-24) %
  • 69.62% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 41.32%Male %
  • 30.59% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 12.40% Male (13-15) %
  • 7.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Pakistan has a youth policy from 2008, but responsibility has shifted to the regions since its adoption.

In 2009 the Federal cabinet approved the national youth policy (2008). However, in 2010 the Ministry of Youth Affairs was dissolved following the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, and responsibility for youth, along with other policy areas such as education, was devolved to the four provinces (Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Kybher Pakhtunkhwa) and two territories (Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir).   To date, only the Punjab province has an approved youth policy (2012), though the Sindh province has a draft youth policy (2012) and the other regions and territories are engaged in consultation and drafting processes.   As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Pakistan is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
In 2010, the Ministry of Youth Affairs was dissolved, and responsibility for youth was devolved to the provinces and territories. Responsibility for youth now sits within the following: Punjab - Youth Affairs, Sports, Tourism and Archaeology Department; Sindh - Department of Youth Affairs; Balochistan - Department of Environment, Sport and Youth Affairs; Kybher Pakhtunkhwa -  Department of Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs; Gilgit Baltistan - Tourism, Sports, Culture and Youth Department; Azad Jammu & Kashmir - Department of Youth Culture and Sports

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Whilst there is no official youth council, there are several youth-led groups that operate at a regional and national level.   The National Youth Assembly (NYA) aims to educate youth aged 18-30 about leadership, politics and democracy.   The Chanan Development Association (CDA) aims to build the capacity of young people, and to act as a resource hub for youth organisations.   The role of young people in these organisations are unclear, as is their representative nature. A number of youth organisations are listed as members of the Commonwealth Youth Council.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
Whilst each province and territory has a budget for departments with responsibility for youth affairs, it is unclear what allocation is made to youth specifically.   The exception is in Sindh where the 2013-2014 Development Budget estimates an allocation of PKR 208,680,000 (USD 212,9387) for the Youth Affairs Department. According to the World Bank, Pakistan spent 10.14% of its government expenditure in 2011 and 2.17% of its GDP on education provision in 2012.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From How To Get There From Here: Lessons in Education Reform for Pakistan from Around the World:  
At present, Pakistan is without a good education system. Indeed, if we are to speak plainly - as the times require - we must admit that the current education system is very poor indeed. Consider the following facts:
  • One-third of primary age children, a larger proportion of girls than boys, are not in school at all.
  • Around 35% of those children who do attend school and make it to grade 3 cannot do single digit subtraction.
  • Each day around a quarter of the country’s teachers do not turn up to school.
  • Government school facilities are very poor 60% have no electricity, and 34% no drinking water.
  • The low-cost private sector delivers better performance than the government schools at around a quarter of the unit cost.
  • Karachi, a city of around 16 million people and four million children of school education age, has just 600,000 children enrolled in public schools and up to two million more in low-cost private schools. This suggests perhaps a million children unaccounted for; Karachi, it seems likely, can lay claim to the unenviable title of the worst educated megacity on the planet…
However poor Pakistan’s education system may be now, it would be perfectly possible to successfully transform it over a generation. The fatalism that grips too many of Pakistan’s leaders when they consider the education system needs to be swept away.
The 2009 British Council report Pakistan: The Next Generation gives further background on the situation for young people:  
Inspirational. Influential. A change maker. A leader.
Words almost never applied to a fresh-faced twenty-something. The same youth who makes up half of Pakistan’s population and who stands to inherit the country tomorrow. A country that today has urgent internal and external challenges; with resources that have been underutilized; where the present is uncertain and the future unclear…
  • Pakistan is a young and increasingly urban society. Half its citizens are under twenty; two thirds have yet to reach their thirtieth birthday.
  • The population has trebled in less than fifty years. It will grow by around 85 million in twenty years (roughly the equivalent of five cities the size of Karachi).
  • Birth rates remain high by regional standards, especially in rural areas. Pakistan's demographic transition (from high to low mortality and fertility) has stalled.
  • The economy must grow by 6% a year to meet the needs of its growing population. 36 million new jobs are needed in just ten years. At present, Pakistan ranks 101 out of 133 countries on the Global Competitiveness Index.
  • By 2030, Pakistan will be more urban than rural, creating huge demand for infrastructure. Energy use could quadruple; water will be an increasingly scarce resource.
  • Pakistanis are losing confidence in the future. Only 15% believe the country is heading in the right direction. 72% feel economically worse off than a year ago. Only one in ten expect an improvement in the near future.
  • Young people are passionate believers in education, but many have had no opportunity to gain essential skills. Only half of Pakistan's children go to primary school, a quarter to secondary school, and just 5% receive any higher education.
  • In our survey of the next generation (18-29 year olds), a quarter of respondents are illiterate. Half believe they do not have the skills for the modern labour market. Even those with good qualifications are struggling to find decent employment, and are struggling against discrimination and corruption.
  • Disillusion with democracy is pronounced. Only around 10% have a great deal of confidence in national or local government, the courts, or the police. Only 39% voted in the last election; while half are not even on the voters' list.
  • The next generation loves Pakistan, despite the country's failings. It is also civic minded, with nearly half believing education's primary purpose is to learn to be a good citizen or to gain a broad understanding of the world.
  • Many young leaders are no longer prepared to wait for others to act. They are actively seeking opportunities to build a stronger, more peaceful and prosperous society, and to develop a new relationship with the rest of the world.
  • In 1980, Pakistan passed a milestone: the proportion of adults to children and old people reached its lowest level. Ever since, demographic conditions have become steadily more favourable – a trend that will continue to mid-century.
  • A huge generation of young people is now entering the workforce. If there are no jobs and services for them, Pakistan faces a demographic disaster. If they are engaged in the economy, politics and society, Pakistan could collect a one-off boost to its growth and development.
  • This demographic dividend first became available in the 1990s. The window of opportunity will close around 2045, by which time the society will be ageing rapidly. During this period, therefore, investment in the next generation will have a huge impact on Pakistan's long-term prospects.