The missing goalpost


The more you analyse it, the more distant the future becomes. The pre-Pakistan generation has almost entirely passed on, in utter despair at how their dream evolved. And mine, the post-Pakistan generation, is pretty close to starting that final journey. That promise of manna that created us has died in vain.

Why despair, we may well ask. The former generation was handed the helm and failed to deliver. We have done the same. The reins have been with us since 1988. What have we made of Pakistan except for creating legends and icons bigger than life with voracious appetites? There is no goalpost for the current generation.

Today’s rhetoric, like that of times preceding, speaks mainly of retribution. While the country drowns in the issues of the past, and of the present, one hears not a word of the future. The leadership focuses on rabble-rousing to ensure that the lack of delivery is gouged in the ensuing turmoil. Politicians scream antiquated slogans and people are made to believe salvation lies in revenge purely as a substitute for bankruptcy of ideas. The cost is prohibitive in terms of energy and money. A review of the financial cost of retribution over the last 23 years would send shivers through the country, given the results.

Tragically, every major political party is currently in power and yet that goalpost evades us. Pakistan continues to reel and rove, with no apparent destination in sight. This is bad but can you imagine what the state of government would be if, in fact, the majority of the vote was not tied in a coalition? As it is they are tearing each other’s hair out one day and in deadly embrace the next. The future farthest from their minds.

One would believe that Pakistan exists only for the thousand or fifteen hundred parliamentarians, their relatives, cronies et al. And the populace is being forced to digest the fact that politicians’ issues are the only ones that matter. That list is endless; the thirst unquenchable.

The issue in this article is not today, nor is it the past; it’s the lack of commitment to the future. I have yet to see a document other than the Pakistan Growth Strategy, released in May of this year, that even touches on it. Whether it sees the light of day in terms of implementation is another matter. What is incomprehensible is that given the masses of money that political parties spend on anti-government campaigns, while being part of government, and their access to human resource, they have been unable to produce a roadmap for the future.

Today, Pakistan is abuzz with the Minar jalsa of Imran Khan. Undoubtedly it was a successful, major political event, but it provided further evidence that the future has not been Imran’s focus, except for ascent to power. Like with the others, it is obvious that ‘first power, then solutions’ rules the roost. We’ve seen the fruits of that philosophy. Imran decried the attributes or otherwise of the current leadership; the lack of governance, lack of concern or empathy for the people and alleged corruption. This is great idealistic jargon but in real terms the people gain nothing by the declaration of assets. Yes, this should be a normal mandatory process. Review the electronic income tax form; it provides for it. Imran can ensure enforcement.

People are hungry for vibrant alternate leadership; for a visible goalpost. Imran needs to work towards creating that environment if he is to be a viable third option. Move beyond the past and the present; hold that beacon that lights the future. Sadly, he said very little about it.

In reviewing Imran’s effort, there is a sense of déjà vu with respect to Asghar Khan’s political movement. Asghar’s 1977 January procession from Karachi airport was a mammoth affair, taking eons to reach the appointed place. It shook the government and energised the nation. Observers felt the end of Z A Bhutto’s government was round the corner. That wasn’t the case. Bhutto rallied. Asghar Khan was unable to carry the momentum into the elections. He ended up goading the army to take over.

There are other similarities. Personal honesty being at the forefront. Both lack analytical powers, are autocratic and opinionated. Asghar never changed. Imran will have to. This is the 21st century and people are clamouring for their aspirations to be met. It’s fair to say that the Minar event was resounding. But it is a start: the wheels are only just beginning to roll.

Perhaps its not too late for us realise that harping on past misdemeanours is not the solution. The emphasis has to be the future. A future the last two generations have forfeited. But continue to carry the onus to provide even a tiny glimpse of it to the young generation, which constitutes more than 50 percent of the population. We need to feed their dreams, inspire their creativity, and give them their Mecca.

The writer can be contacted at [email protected]


  1. Imran Husain wrote: "One would believe that Pakistan exists only for the thousand or fifteen hundred parliamentarians, their relatives, cronies et al."

    Not quite!. It also exists for thousands of corrupt bureaucrats, hundreds of elitist and rapacious businessmen (who would rather hand over briefcases full of money instead of competing on merit) and many dozens of senior military men who rule the roost in power, property and privileges.

    Just don't blame the politicians as they are just part of a privileged group. The blame squarely lies on the local elite who in 1947 replaced the British and insisted on treating the rest of their countrymen as 'natives' to be ruled (and be taken advantage of). All that has happened since 1947 is that more and more people have attained 'elite' status and thus the looting has increased manifoldly.

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