In the ever-evolving landscape of politics, young people are often touted as the torchbearers of change, the forerunners of fresh ideas, and the future leaders of nations. They are mobilized, energized, and thrust into the political arena with promises of a better tomorrow. In the grand theatre of politics, where parties and politicians vie for power, the youth are cast as mere extras, their voices amplified during election campaigns, only to be silenced and side-lined once the ballots are counted. This article delves into the uncomfortable reality of how politicians and political parties exploit the energy and idealism of the youth for their gain, using them as propaganda tools, and then leaving them idle, denying the positions they were once promised when power was secured. It’s a tale of betrayal, one that exposes the harsh truth that, in the world of politics, the aspirations of the young are often sacrificed on the altar of opportunism. While Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf remains on the top when it comes to engaging youth in politics as propaganda tools by promising change and accountability, however, the exploitation of youth and their fresh minds in Pakistan is not limited to a particular political party or province; it can be observed across all the areas of Pakistan with different political spectrums. This issue is more about the broader dynamics of politics and power rather than being exclusive to a specific party. PTI, under the leadership of Imran Khan, effectively tapped into the frustrations and aspirations of Pakistan’s youth. Through social media, rallies, and campaigns, PTI successfully mobilized a large youth demographic. This initially seemed like a positive step towards engaging young citizens in politics, but eventually, it has cultivated a culture of blind loyalty and polarization, potentially leaving many young supporters disillusioned and directionless. Its core agenda revolves around the charisma and personality of its leader, Imran Khan which has led to lethal a culture where loyalty to the leader takes precedence over loyalty to the party’s principles or policies and to the Country itself. It’s a tale of betrayal that, in the world of politics, the aspirations of the young are often sacrificed on the altar of opportunism. Although the trend of engaging and using youth in politics for effective manipulation was initiated by PTI, other parties later adopted similar tactics. This approach raises concerns about the motivations behind such youth engagement and its impact on the political landscape. It has become the norm to mobilize youth during election campaigns, but no party has ever done enough to empower young individuals within its ranks or provide them with meaningful political roles. Moreover, the confrontational style of politics led by PTI has contributed to the radicalization and aggression of some of its youth supporters, leading to incidents of violence and intolerance. While PTI takes the lead in the exploitation of youth in politics including the propagation of idealism, the use of social media for mobilization and the promise of positions or opportunities, there are other parties as well that have engaged in various strategies to mobilize and sometimes exploit the youth for their interests. Historically, the PPP has had a youth following, especially in rural areas. The party has attracted young supporters based on the charisma of its leaders from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and President Asif Ali Zardari to Young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. However, it is argued that the PPP, like other parties, has not been able to do enough to provide opportunities for young party workers. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N is also beginning to utilize its youth wings to mobilize and promote its agenda among young people. However, the party has faced criticism for not offering enough opportunities for youth leadership and empowerment. MQM also has had a significant urban youth following in Karachi. However, it has faced allegations of using aggressive tactics and mobilizing youth for confrontational politics. Some religious parties in Pakistan have also drawn youth support by emphasizing religious and ideological issues. These parties often rely on the passion and commitment of young followers for their activities and campaigns. The demographic profile of Pakistan shows a significant youth population and the disparity in age representation at top political positions. According to Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics, as of September 2021, Pakistan had a youth bulge, with a large percentage of its population under the age of 30. Approximately 64% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30, making it one of the youngest countries in the world. Despite the youthful demographics, many top political positions in Pakistan have been occupied by individuals who are older and have been part of the political establishment for decades. There is a noticeable gap between the age distribution of the population and the age distribution of political leaders in influential roles. Younger populations are often seen as a potential source of energy, innovation, and productivity. They can contribute to economic growth through their labour force participation, entrepreneurship, and capacity for adaptation to modern technologies. However, if the political leadership does not reflect the demographics and concerns of the youth, there may be a mismatch between policies and the needs and aspirations of the younger generation. The policies and priorities of governments can be influenced by the age and perspectives of leaders. Older leaders may have different priorities and may not fully understand or address the specific challenges and opportunities faced by young people, such as access to quality education, job opportunities, and technological advancements which is a leading cause of escalation in Pakistan’s brain drain crisis. In 2021, approximately 225,000 Pakistanis departed from Pakistan in search of employment opportunities, but this figure surged to nearly three times that number in 2022, reaching 765,000. Notably, the statistics for 2022 encompassed 92,000 highly skilled professionals, including doctors, engineers, information technology specialists, and accountants, with some relocating to Western countries and others to Middle Eastern nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. So far in 2023, over 450,000 Pakistanis have already left Pakistan in search of job opportunities abroad. There is another issue of nepotism and the lack of opportunities for young party workers within Pakistan’s political landscape that transcends specific political parties. While political parties may rely on the enthusiasm and hard work of young party workers during election campaigns and rallies, they are not adequately rewarded with leadership positions or opportunities for career advancement within the party structure or in government when the moment arrives. Some political parties are closely associated with specific families or individuals, and leadership positions are often concentrated within those families. This can limit the opportunities for younger members and contribute to a sense of frustration and stagnation among young party workers. In conclusion, efforts to address these issues typically require a combination of internal party reforms, increased civic engagement, and public pressure for transparency and accountability. Young people’s continued activism and advocacy for change within political parties and the broader political system can contribute to a more inclusive and democratic political landscape in Pakistan as well as to its overall development. The writer tweets @xee_que.