Tuesday, August 6, 2013

PAKISTAN: A Country Rich in All “ISMs” Except Patriotism

Democracy, equality, freedom on the highest sense of integrity and on the basis of fairplay and justice for everyone. (25th January 1948. Quaid-e-Azam’s Address to the Karachi Bar association)

On 14th August 1947, an independent Muslim state, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, was carved out of the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan holds the pride of being the first country in the world founded on the basis of a religion, Islam. Under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah this country was supposed to embody his vision of democracy, equality, justice and freedom of religion. About 14.5 million people crossed the borders. 8,226,000 Muslims came to Pakistan from India while 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs crossed over to India from Pakistan. By a conservative estimate, this violent migration claimed 250,000 lives. Now after 65 years, brutal migration and the sacrifice of countless loved ones, are we there where our beloved Quaid-e-Azam wanted to see us? Answer is simple: No, not even close.

The question is what went wrong during the 65 years of the existence of Pakistan? Unfortunately there is no silver bullet for this query.  Few of the many issues are highlighted here:

Feudalism is the first major issue which Pakistan is facing right now.  It is deeper than the Arabian Sea. Between the era of the 1950’s and 1960’s feudal families retained control over national affairs through the bureaucracy and the armed forces. The feudal landlords have created states within a state where they rule and influence the police and judiciary. The majority of the politicians in Pakistan are themselves feudal landlords. The feudal society was constructed for one reason: Local Control, at the great expense of the common man.

Jihadism in Pakistan took the height of the K2 Mountain between late 70’s and early 80’s. At that time General Zia-ul-Haq was the Chief Martial Law Administrator. His extensive Islamisation drive had left significant impacts on the society’s relationship towards Jihadism. Mujahedeen were trained and encouraged for the fighting in Afghanistan and Indian Kashmir. This was done under the strict supervision of the Pakistan Army and the Pakistani Intelligence agencies. Again in the 90’s, Pakistan opened another “factory” of Jihadists to take over the neighboring country of Afghanistan. This time the new and improved product was called “Taliban” and they were nothing but Dr. Frankenstein’s evil creations. Since the middle of 2000, these Talibans have turned their guns against Pakistan and have been spreading their brutal philosophy of terrorism and jihadism. Killing of innocent civilians or beheading of our brave soldiers is the new norm in Pakistan.

Nepotism is also as wide as the Indus River in Pakistan. Currently almost all major political parties in Pakistan except MQM are classic examples of Nepotism. Top positions in the party are assigned to family members, relatives or friends. Merit system is replaced with personal likes and dislikes and key positions in the Government sector are filled solely based on relationships with no heed to qualifications, whatsoever. It’s not about what you know it’s about who you know. 

The country continues to face challenging problems, including feudalism, jihadism, nepotism, terrorism, poverty, illiteracy and corruption. I wonder if Land reforms will eliminate feudalism, if modern education will close the gates of jihadism, if justice and equality will promote the merit system.

Somewhere between the conception of our independence and 1952, we lost our patriotic fire in the belly, greatness of leadership, open arms and tolerance for all, and for sure the concept of one nation under God. We are definitely not a great nation, but we can become one by taking small steps at a time. Independence is not a right of inheritance, passed from one blood stream to another, but rather has to be embraced and groomed by generations. Only then will it evolve into what it should be.

“Isms” are forces which are destroying the nation. But they can also be a blessing for young generations. They can choose between the same old past or a new future. A future where the common man will enjoy freedom, equality, and justice, where minorities will practice their beliefs without any fear, where merit will be only currency.  We will be questioned by coming generations on what we built rather than what we destroyed.

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