Pakistan has completed 74 years of its existence and the nation has faced many tragic and horrific trials and tribulations during its short life. The country was cut in half and has been the epicenter of terrorism, grappling with the hydra-headed horrors of religious terrorism and sectarian conflict. A lot of water has flowed below the Ravi Bridge and our tragic and sorry past is now behind us. If this country is to survive as a respectable member of the world community, we have to stop blaming the world for our problems and we must look inwards and do a serious study of our own faults.
First, this country should stop waging war on itself and stop the irrational belief in the theory of conspiracies. The world has not ganged up on us; our problems are our own creation. Let us not distort history but learn from it. Our leaders, and especially the leaders of new Pakistan, keep shouting from the rooftops that the terrorism we face is a result of Pakistan’s support to the USA after 9/11. Fact of the matter is that roots of terrorism are deep in our own checkered past. Who created the terror groups that were active before 9/11? Bloodthirsty jihadi militants like Ajmal Kasab, Sufi Mohammed, Hafiz Saeed and countless others are all local creations.
Khalil Gibran wrote, “pity the nation where citizens express anger at international atrocities but is oblivious to cruelties inflicted daily by its own sons and daughters on its own sons and daughters.” How can we close our eyes to the sectarian violence and the acts of extreme cruelty inflicted on our own minorities? The senseless and brutal killings of the Hazara community in Balochistan? The forceful conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh? The persecution of poor Christian people or the burning of Hindu temples? And the senseless killings in the name of blasphemy? How can we forget the murder of Salman Taseer or the case of Asia Bibi? Or the Lal Masjid fiasco of the not-too-distant past?
We are surrounded by hostile neighbors, our eastern and western borders are a danger zone but let us not forget our self-created adventures like Operation Gibraltar and Kargil. We have to think rationally and try to normalize relations with all our neighbors and subsequently reduce spending on the armed forces and invest more in our social sector particularly education and health care. Our political and military leaders have to stop the belief in the theory of “strategic depth” and the use of “strategic assets.” The leader of Naya Pakistan believes passionately in the cause of the Taliban but about time we stop the mantra of Good Taliban and bad Taliban.
In Pakistan, hate mongers are treated as patriots and peace activists as traitors. The red capped religious zealot rules the airwaves spitting fire and brim stone. Fanatics like Khadim Rizvi can blockade the federal capital and uniformed jihadis are hailed as national heroes. Civil society laments the state of our education system and yet our own state created seminaries are the hotbed of sectarian violence, bigotry and obscurantism. Our new leaders should also remember that nobody respects a person with a begging bowl. We have to develop our own financial resources to break the begging bowl and do away with this dependence on the World Bank and the IMF.
We are also witness to the strange phenomenon of our judiciary turning into a moral brigade. Our superior judiciary headed by judges like Chowdry Iftikhar and Saqib Nisar poking their nose where it does not belong like drinking water, power dams, hospitals and schools and remaining oblivious to the loot and corruption in their own courts of law and then asking the elected representatives to surrender to the majesty of the rule of law. The incarceration of the daughter of the nation in a foreign land results in demonstrations and intense anger when countless daughters rot in prisons on flimsy charges and many others are assaulted and raped every day.
Successive governments have promised to do away with VIP culture but nothing has been done so far. Even today the rich and powerful and the political elite have adequate security in the form of bulletproof cars and armed guards but the common citizen is expected to ask for divine protection only. This nation has anchor persons acting as judge and jury whereas the judges behave like anchorpersons. We have the sorry spectacle of warriors plotting, politicians wrangling, media shrieking, black robes braying and the common man sinking deeper and deeper into despair and fast losing hope of a better tomorrow.
The present government was voted into power with the hope of change and a positive move towards betterment of the common man but so far the only change seen is the policy of vindictiveness revenge and victimization of political rivals. Nobody can deny the necessity of all round accountability but at the same time the people expect some performance also. Common citizens need relief and succor in the form of better policies in economy, education, healthcare but sadly the present regime is trying to hide behind the so-called evil deeds of the past regimes.
About time that our present leaders learn from history, wake up from their delusionary state, look at the ground realities and prove their good intentions not by daily press conferences but by solid deeds and performance. If this country has to progress beyond 2021 into the future as a respectable member of the world community, we need some serious introspection, planning and sincere efforts or this country too could end up on the dust heap of history. In the words of a sage “we need leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”