How about counting our blessings for a change?

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Things we should all be thankful for

A friend recently pointed out that the average Pakistani is so used to complaining about his lot that he is incapable of noticing, let alone appreciating, the things he ought to be thankful for. After giving the matter some thought, I can’t help agreeing. A little introspection tells me that at times I too have been guilty of this, although my friend was too tactful to say so. Here are some of the more important aspects of our lives that I am now convinced we Pakistanis should be grateful for.

We are lucky enough to be firmly under a constitution. The dark periods in which the sacred document was suspended or abrogated altogether, or some parts thereof were put in abeyance are history. The constitution, in all its glory, is in full force, with everybody bowing to its authority. God’s in His heaven; and all’s right with the world.

We also have the privilege of being a democratic country. Our decision-makers are elected by us, and are dependent on our goodwill for continuing in office. Throw in their sundry sacrifices and monumental struggles for democracy, and it will be petty on our part to begrudge them their lifestyle and assets, inside the country or abroad.

If constitution and democracy weren’t enough, we also are an Islamic nation – the name of our country says it all. The preamble to the constitution leaves no doubt about the Islamic nature of the document, and articles 62 and 63 ensure that each of our representatives is sagacious, knowledgeable, pious, and of sound character; something ascertained conclusively by his ability to repeat a formula in Arabic. A reasonable man could hardly ask for more.

As a citizen, I enjoy complete freedom and civil rights. I can contest elections if I want. I can always use my good name and clean reputation if I can’t come up with the millions needed for the campaign. I can even found a political party. The courts of law are continuously dispensing justice, should any of my rights be infringed upon. The twenty or so years required to get a decision are less than the equivalent of an eye-blink in terms of history of nations. There are food courts too. Their performance is even better. One can get one’s order delivered within minutes.

With the populace determined to breed like rabbits, one can hardly blame the state for not being able to provide schools for all children. (Prudently giving up on this impossible task, the state has now set its sights on the more realistic goal of teaching the enemy’s children.) Thankfully, the private sector has admirably taken up the responsibility. You can buy books, stationery, tracksuits, uniforms, and other stuff from the school itself. For study purposes, the school considerately recommends hiring good private tutors. This education may be far from free (as promised by article 25A of the constitution), but hey, what could be a better investment than an investment in our future generation? And indeed, what could be more pious?

When it comes to providing utilities, the state is again confronted with the unmanageable population explosion. However, it graciously allows me to buy my own generator, solar panels, UPS, or a biogas plant (the solution of choice if one owns a few buffaloes); drill my own water-well; and employ my own security guard. I doubt if any other state gives its citizens so many opportunities to be self reliant. Rush Limbaugh must surely envy this spectacular realisation of small government.

The Pakistani citizen enjoys extensive freedom of speech. Moreover, if he happens to be a journalist or an Imam of a mosque, he can say absolutely whatever he likes. If his ambitions are grander than that, he can always open up a holy-war recruitment center. In that case, he may even be asked to deliver speeches at prestigious university campuses.

We are a secure country, with an invincible defense. Armed to the teeth with nuclear and conventional weaponry, our professional military is capable of foiling all external threats. When it comes to internal security too (should such a need arise), it can never be expected to suffer the ignominy that made Turkey the laughing stock of the world.

Pakistanis are internationally recognised and honored due to Pakistan’s immense geostrategic importance. This is evident at all airports of the world. Also, when no Pakistani was able to qualify for the Rio Olympics, the IOC especially invited seven Pakistani athletes, for to start a major event without Pakistan would have been inconceivable.

Amid all the disinformation and chaos spouted by the so-called free media, PTV – with its free, fair and balanced coverage – is a welcome voice of sanity. Also, with Pakistan’s dearth of resources, any other country, would have given up on the dream to become a welfare state. Not so Pakistan! The government has set the minimum wage to be Rs. 14,000. If these are not things worthy of celebration, I don’t know what is.

I could go on and on, had I not run out of space. One last thing though: The above worldly benefits, though important in their own right, pale in comparison with the following consideration concerning the Hereafter. Hazrat Ali (AS) famously said that he recognised God by the defeat of his intentions. When it comes to recognising God then, there’s no country like Pakistan.

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