Rethinking priorities: Lahore’s challenge beyond bikes

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Hina N. Chaudhry

Recently, in Pakistan where there’s no smoke without fire, the outcry over the recent ruling of the Honourable Mr. Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court regarding the government of Punjab’s motorcycle initiative aimed at distributing electric and petrol bikes to youth has opened a pertinent discussion about priorities, preparedness, motivation, and action in Lahore. While it’s true that there are problems regarding male youth who might misuse the initiative; it’s more damaging to turn a blind eye towards what’s happening on a vaster scale in the whole city from an environmental point of view.
In the first place, while commenting on our view of the ruling, it’s crucial to understand that the criticism of the Honourable Mr. Justice Shahid Karim is only as significant as the magnitude of the concerns raised. Therefore, before people begin to panic and express criticism, they should self-scrutinize and reflect on the potential genuine environmental impacts in the perspective of Mr.Justice comments.
In addition to the motorbike project, there are several more pressing problems in Lahore. Even though giving bikes to youth might seem empowering, it is important to look at the priorities and question whether “spending” this money is the best use. One of the requirements is a public bus experience. As a concept, it is much more beneficial than a bike alone. Instead of focusing on a bike, the team should put its efforts into the domestic bus experience for women. It would solve the problem in terms of safety and benefit everyone equally under the current circumstances.
Those who are using this opportunity to mock the honorable judge should think about it. As they say: Honorable Justice Karim is more concerned not with the fear of misuse, but with the responsible use of the taxpayer’s money. As we observe here in Lahore, the city blessed with the title of the most polluted in the world directed resources to initiatives that do not concern the environment or society.
As can be seen, the importance of environmental sustainability and stewardship cannot be ignored. Therefore, the air quality crisis in Lahore is an imperative of immediate action. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the motorcycles are a highly convenient vehicle. However, they also lead to a high level of pollution.
Solutions should address tree planting campaigns and vigorous forest conservation efforts to protect already sparse green spaces due to rapid urbanization. Furthermore, the aspect goes beyond environmental perspectives; given Lahore’s high population growth rates, solutions should counter other shortages in infrastructure and public growth. For instance, as one concerned citizen rightly narrates, there are no clean environments for families to spend time. Consequently, the problem should surround urban planning to broaden the base and community engagement to bolster governance systems.
The most common issue facing the young of Lahore is a lack of job options. Despite having the largest youth population in the world, the city’s young populace is struggling to access sustainable and meaningful employment. The resultant high unemployment rates is not only a hallmark factor undermining economic growth but also contributes to social upheaval and youth disillusionment.
In this perspective, the government must implement mechanisms to develop job-creating programs that meet this demographic’s diverse skills and aspirations. Talent-based programs should also be a priority geared at nurturing the potential of Lahore’s youth. The city is rich in untapped talent across several realms such as arts and culture, technology, and innovation. However, without the necessary facilities and exposure, many of this city’s young dreamers will never achieve their dreams.
Apart from traditional employment, youth have the potential to become entrepreneurs and become part of an innovation ecosystem. Such projects as mentorship, grant provision, and a chance to network can help young enthusiasts make their ideas real. Lahore can benefit from an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship and profit from the innovative abilities of its youth to facilitate economic growth and social transformation.
Because our education system is outdated, young people need greater opportunities to work alongside technology, which could be seen as 20-30 years behind the times. In our case, the educational process must be urgently updated and made modern. It will be crucial to motivate children to take an interest in technology and introduce a more modern education system. Moreover, children must be taught English and Arabic from the very beginning, which will help to be fluent in both languages and better communicate with the global community.
Lastly, funding for education or vocational training is vital. To ensure that Lahore’s youth can compete in the contemporary workforce, the government should make education and vocational programs more available. This will allow Pakistan’s young people an opportunity to have a meaningful vocational path and contribute to society.
Taking into consideration the judgment by Mr. Justice Shahid Karim, the city’s priorities need to be rethought. The new bike project may be a great initiative in general, but the major city’s problems must not be overlooked. Refocusing on public transportation, park renovation, and ecological preservation, Lahore can make the next step into a more sustainable, inclusive future.
It is in this context that Mr. Justice Shahid Karim’s appeal to put priorities on city development is particularly relevant. Superficial decisions will not allow the city to go over the longstanding issues, but investing in young people, enabling them, creating jobs, and helping develop their talents will help unleash the region’s potential.

The Author is a law graduate from the University of London, specializing in corporate and commercial law. She is a partner at Zahwar Law Associates. With advanced research skills, a deep understanding of complex legal issues, and a commitment to justice and equality, she provides exceptional legal services and strives to make a positive impact in the legal community.