- Some rights and wrongs revisited
For I say this in an hour of change and challenge, in a year of hope and fear, in an age of extreme knowledge and ignorance, the greater our knowledge becomes, the greater our ignorance unfolds, so it is not surprising, that a lot if not everyone in Pakistan would have us stay where we are, to rest, to wait on false promises; but Pakistan was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. We choose progress and security this year and do other things this decade.
We the people of Pakistan choose to go forward, not because that is easy, but because that is hard. If we do not achieve this, the system will collapse.
Distil conventional wisdom, sprinkle some personal and organisational agendas, mix in a dollop of gut feel and you get a heady cocktail called policy. To market this policy, stitch together a strategy and call it a narrative. Now peddle it furiously and wait for the magnificent results to fool and loot the country by the politicians.
Or we can upend the whole thing and re-look at how we look at ourselves and our country. So here goes (in no particular order):
- Wrong: Pakistan’s potential to become geopolitical crossroads for the region and reap the benefits of its location should be our primary goal.
Right: A country of 200 million people must think bigger than becoming an expensive doormat for big powers. Relying on our location to strategise for the future is an insult to the talents of our human resource and an admission that sans location we would be irrelevant. Aim low and achieve lower.
- Wrong: The best government is the one that cares for the poor (note slogans of all political parties). Politicians of all shades promise to stand by the poor and the marginalised and proudly claim to be ghareebon ki hukoomat (government of the poor).
Right: The best government is the one that can ensure there are no ghareeb to look after. Upward mobility, both financial and social, is a positive aspiration that a good government should encourage, facilitate and make happen. It is repulsively patronising when political parties promise to ‘look after’ the poor instead of promising to help them climb out of poverty and become as privileged as these politicians themselves.
We have access to technological solutions along with financing which can give us the power not only for our survival but also guarantee the sovereignty of our country. But political will to take bold decisions has always been missing
Right: There is no greater national interest than making Pakistan strong, prosperous and vibrant. There is no greater way to make Pakistan strong than to make Pakistanis— all Pakistanis— educated, skilled, aware and providing them safety and security and a level playing field where rule of law reigns supreme and no one, absolutely no one, regardless of his status and rank is above the law of the land. Whoever does anything and everything to enable this to happen is the biggest patriot of all.
- Wrong: Taking pride in ethnic or tribal traditions that denigrate others. If such traditions are steeped in misogyny and rigid social hierarchy, they have no place in a modern society and should be decisively culled by the force of law.
Right: An agrarian society in a post-industrial world is not something to be proud of. Pakistan should be aiming to grow out of this agrarian mode of economy and shed the medieval practices that are attached with ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’. There’s nothing wrong with tradition per se, but there’s plenty wrong when tradition is equated with social inequality, economic backwardness, lack of exposure, lack of education and lack of opportunity for the disadvantaged crushed under the burden of a predatory state that shackles the populace instead of unleashing its potential.
Conventional wisdom spawns hypnotic groupthink that numbs the ability to think critically and puncture the pomposity of tradition and status quo. Ours is too precious a land to be held hostage to people and institutions who are so deeply imbedded in the past they cannot grasp the future, let alone shape it.
We have access to technological solutions along with financing which can give us the power not only for our survival but also guarantee the sovereignty of our country. But political will to take bold decisions has always been missing. The glut of tainted. Inefficient and corrupt politicians cam only plunge Pakistan into more and more pain and misery. Continue to watch the downward slide from the sidelines till the D-day strikes us.