By Athar Javaid
According to Nadeem M Qureshi (Viewpoint) / 31 August 2012, Khaleej Times
“Root of all—really—all of Pakistan’s problems is the quality of those who run Pakistan”.
Granted! This has been fairly consistently true for Pakistan’s leadership, civilian or military throughout its six and a half decades of existence. Granted too is the fact that after six and a half decades the Pakistani leadership has not been able to unite the nation around a common base line vision. Perhaps this was never a priority. Perhaps the vision just comprised of nepotism, corruption, exploitation of Islam and promotion of economic injustices for political gains.
This was further compounded by the fact that democracy has yet to get its roots in Pakistan – A pluralistic system of governance that helpsgradually break down embryonic cultural barriers such as caste, tribe and religious sects and in doing so could empower various sectors of Pakistani society through their own individual merit.
But then what else can one expect when the counterpart of any leadership has been equally consistent in shutting itself out of the system resorting to mass apathy and staying consumed by their attention to selfish personal interests at the cost of any and all national considerations.
Embrace and practice multiple conflicting standards of behavior. Let the conscience rest in a closet. Just do what is convenient and self-fulfilling. Stay fixated on self. Exploit available national resources to the fullest to your personal gain. Establish foreign bank accounts just like those corrupt leaders in power and create a heaven for yourself. No worries if the country falls apart. Just find a place where you and your off springs can enjoy the wealth amassed at the expense of priorities of our home land. This has been the story of the Pakistani elite that incidentally happens to constitute Pakistan’s Intellectual Capital.
It is this sad and lethal combination of the largely inept political leadership and the apathy of the elitist Pakistan that is at the root of all of Pakistan’s problems. Wide spread institutional weaknesses, disintegration, religious radicalization, economic collapse, sectarian violence, insurgencies, crime – all more or less a direct derivative of this lethal combination – A perfect recipe for self –destruction.
The elites that easily constitute one hundred percent of Pakistan’s intellectual capital though aware of all the problems at all times rarely did anything to challenge the rulers or leadership in Pakistan. With all the freedom of press and accessibility to virtual media the best we can do is discuss and pay lip service to the symptoms, almost always avoiding getting to the root of the problem or challenging those responsible for it.
Pakistanis in Pakistan and around the world who by virtue of their education, expertise and experience can challenge every single issue that contributes to the self-destructive behavior and resulting social, economic and cultural calamities listed above are either apathetic or at best consumed by self- promotion. One more book authored, one more mention of their name in the media, one more report or article on Pakistan’s symptomatic problems is the order of priorities rather than doing anything that would actually translate into changing the dismal ground reality.
Following the same pattern of superficiality are scores of development foundations NGOs and charitable organizations that are focused on alleviating the devastating poverty, hunger, shortage of water, sanitation, health care and schooling. They have been at lt for the last half a century. Never once spelling out the underlying root cause. Uncontrolled growth in population. Doing so and actually facing the problem would be too farfetched by any stretch of our imagination.
Much the same way, our Mullahs and religious scholars have been preaching how important it is to fulfill Huqooq Allah down to the minutest detail and the fact that Allah’s mercy and forgiveness looms larger than any sin one can commit, often conveniently ignoring Allah’s very strict and stringent commandment on Huqooq Al Ibad. In a way justifying all flaws of human behavior as long as one seeks Allah’s forgiveness!
The real threat to Pakistan resides not in the mosques and the madrassas, Talibans, instability in Afghanistan or the growing power of its immediate neighbor but in its institutional weaknesses and its numb and indifferent elite with their never exercised capacity to cultivate awareness at grass roots, the capacity to evolve the right leadership, the capacity to revive abandoned learning institutions, the capacity to engage and provide the much needed jump start in turning things around. Our apathy has paid us well. We lived with religious sectarian violence and then with violent fighting based on ethnicity and cultural differences. And now violence has completely taken over our streets.
Enough is enough! Isn’t it time we stood up, face it squarely and meet the challenge before it is too late?