On 19th September, 2011, Pakistan woke up to a bomb blast in Karachi and somehow managed to end the day with the same in Peshawar. And to top it all, Pakistanis are pretty much used to the trend now. For a nation carved out for the welfare of the minorities, it doesn’t care about smaller communities nor bears the necessity of protecting them at any cost.
To paraphrase, Pakistan is an international headache. Worse off, an incurable migraine. Add to this, the natural calamities it faces nearly other year. Last year, one-fifth of Pakistan was under water. As we speak, Sindh is badly affected by flood and the kind of apathy – shown by the government as well as the people in other parts of the nation – is shameful to say the least. All in all, you’ve got a country that’s mired in acute hopelessness and financial debts. Over the years, it has accumulated so much bad press that the image is not going to cleanse itself overnight. The throes of disasters ranging from serious internal rumblings and suspicious bearing in the global fora are everyday fodder for news.
Sounds clichéd? Well, the word is facts.
Now, let’s change the track a bit and see what could be on the other side of the canvas. After all, challenges beckon opportunities to rise! I know we can’t compare instances of revival that happened in the case of Japan, S. Korea, Singapore, and China. But did Japan in its heydays anticipated that in the years to come, China will recover its lost economic ground and gain foothold in world affairs?
Well, Pakistan finds itself in a unique paradigm. So that’d be totally out of question considering the extreme parameters and present day circumstances. But then, we can’t discard the possibility either. Anything can happen. And anything does happen. There is still a floating probability that Pakistan will rise in the future. All it has to do is some soul searching provided some soul is left in there. It has to ask tough questions and then settle with the truth.
No other nation on the planet in modern era had tried to tamper with genuine history the way Pakistan has. Here is a nation founded on the basis of fear. Fear of being ill-treated and subjugated by the majorities. And to sustain this theory, it had to create a false grandeur of paranoia and self-righteousness. Of course, this practice helped for a while to keep the newborn nation united but eventually the seams came apart. And the Frankenstein we are witnessing today in the form of domestic terrorism is a byproduct of that experiment.
People often say Pakistan’s biggest problem is its obsession with religion. Yes, it’s true but that’s not entirely the case. Religion is merely a blindside designed for the benefit of military, mullahs and self-proclaimed ultra-nationalists. The real problem is commerce. Or should I say, the lack of it. Citizens shy away from paying taxes. Law and order is synonymous with nepotism and cronyism. The loans granted by the Western countries are rising on a daily basis. Net-net, everything appears shoddy thanks to the sway military holds within the boundary with no opposition whatsoever. Democracy is a charade. Ironically, Pakistan wholeheartedly exercises democratic freedom of expression only when it comes to allowing anti-India slogan rallies.
Furthermore, the National Assembly is highly inspired by the Indian Parliament and functions more like a circus and less like the way it should be. Under such situations, economy is bound to choke. And it is choking. Badly. As far as economics goes, Pakistan has become the 51st state of United States but pays the price with innocent lives.
Foremost of all, Pakistan needs to be at ease with itself. It should embrace its history. There is no point running away from its origin. Changing syllabus doesn’t change a nation’s chronicle nor its destiny. Secondly, it should breathe free and develop a vision for itself. That doesn’t necessarily have to coincide with what Jinnah had in mind for it’s quite obvious that Jinnah was a confused personality. Like Gandhi, he too was a flawed character, but unlike Gandhi, he wasn’t the introspective kind. No wonder Pakistan finds itself without a horizon today.
Islam at its sectarian best resulted in nothing but bloodshed after bloodshed after bloodshed. Even during the holy month of Ramadan. The idea of secularism should be given a chance. If not, the most reasonable solution would be to allow Pakistan to be a moderate Muslim country. That'd include electoral reforms like abolition of separate electorates system, reorganization of provinces based on mix of ethno-linguistic claims and administrative convenience, etc.
Reforms must take place be it in agriculture or foreign policies. Speaking of its neighbors, it has to build a more transparent relationship with everyone in the vicinity. China may be an all-weather friend but when the heat’s up, only Pakistan sweats. Plus, it’s high time Rawalpindi overcame its India-centric complex. Pakistan's fiercest enemy is Pakistan, not India. In fact, Pakistan is one of those few blessed countries (along with India) that can do without an enemy!
Kashmir is and will always be an apple of discord but a Pakistani snubbing Balochistan but urging for Palestinian freedom is a lot like an Indian ignoring Kashmir but advocating Tibetan independence. Go figure. That’s how things are in Indian subcontinent.
Trade should be the language between the two countries; forget conjoined past and sentimental attachments. Better grow up before time runs out. Besides, the nuclear warheads ain’t going to feed the masses (especially, those from the non-military end). Besides, the climate of hatred and indifference should be checked.
I know expecting the above said would invite lot of criticism, muted or otherwise, or may even invoke laughter in some quarters as Pakistan is indeed a very curious case. Agreed, the State of Pakistan is in denial with its milieu but will that be the case forever (or to be honest, aren’t there still many sane voices, maybe overawed by extremist souls?). Someday, there’ll be a strong possibility of ordinary citizens asking very uncomfortable questions to the State instead of mullahs and televangelists and demand legitimate answers and not postulate conspiracies as pills for remedy. That day isn’t far away.
Like the world is now coming to terms to rise of the East i.e. Asia [exclude Myanmar, Pakistan (you were expecting this, right?), etc], others may need to comprehend Pakistan when it may rise (if it will). Assuming that it will, it’s better to hope for the best and work towards that goal. Anyway, Pakistan is a 64-year-young country. There is still time.