Saleem Qamar Butt
A Challenged State
Like many other developing countries of the world with colonial past and clutches of old masters still in place through other modes of neo-colonialism, Pakistan too usually remains in the eye of political and economic storms. Depending upon the social status and political affiliations, there are two distinct opinion groups in the country as for its current state. One group sees its economy as crumbing , social indicators declining, governments priorities misplaced, and consequently Pakistan emerging as a deeply troubled state due unemployment, inflation, poor GDP growth, currency exchange rates, low industrial productivity, and less than desirable exports or consumption. The other opinion group, which is prone to see half glass full has different take on all the above stated negative projections and instead focuses on achievements made in the last two and half years in bringing the rail back on the tracks having been plundered by successive previous governments. The fact sheet published by the sitting government highlighting the achievements in the last two and a half year after inheriting a plethora of economic, social and security issues is well known and therefore avoided here for brevity.
In my opinion, there are domestic as well as regional and international factors that contribute in recurrent tumultuous political, economic and security situation in Pakistan that have been discussed in a series of my articles e.g. ‘Pakistan's Foreign Policy Challenges’, ‘16th December: Deepest Cut to the Heart’, ‘Responsibility to Predict and Prevent’, ‘Beware of Invisible War Unleashed in Pakistan’, ‘ Why a State Collapses?’, ‘Adjusting in Contemporary Global Geopolitical Contest’, ‘Jenga Continues in Pakistan’, ‘National Centre of Gravity’, ‘What Plagues Pakistan more than Corona Virus’, ‘Fine-tuning Pakistan’s National policies in Contemporary Great Power Competition’, ‘Pakistan’s Economic Woes’, ‘What Do People Want?’, ‘Pakistan's Politico-Economic Crises; Perils of Losing Hope’, ‘Contemporary Great Game: Pakistan’s Challenges and Opportunities’, ‘What will make Pakistan Great’, ‘Challenges to Democracy in Pakistan’, ‘Leadership: Is Competence or Character More Important?’, ‘PM needs to prioritise handling of challenges confronting Pakistan’, and ‘Pakistan: Expectations versus Reality’ are a few to quote that can be read on my blog.
Since people of Pakistan have been kept illiterate or at best semi literate through a sustained political strategy by the ruling elite as a colonial legacy; therefore, common people are still struggling for basic human necessities like better education, adequate health facilities, shelter, food, clean water, justice, jobs, security of life and property. Resultantly, public is forced to remain engrossed in self survival by fair or unfair means, living under sham democracy where filthy money and other schisms are used to buy votes and stay in power. The rampant corruption in all organs of the state and sullied nexus among legislature, judiciary and executives has made Pakistan an ocean of corruption in which any lone voice of dissent is tantamount to disturbing the hornets’ nests. The unrelenting plunder of national wealth has kept the country limping on foreign aids and ever mounting loans enabling the World Bank, IMF, other IFIs and donor countries to have strong influence on our national internal and external policies putting a question mark on State’s sovereignty. Besides, any leader in Pakistan who tries to get out of the cobweb woven around Pakistan is bound to face physical elimination, political death by regime change orchestrated through well known ways and means for which corrupt mafias are more than willing and ever available to any pay masters. No country including super powers is without fault lines and so is the case with Pakistan. However, what makes Pakistan appear feebler and on a negative trajectory is the outcome of pointed out connection among corrupt local elite and external mafias working to keep Pakistan destabilized and deprived. It is heartrending to note that malicious use of social media and rented print and electronic media barring few exceptions in the hands of enemies of Pakistan maliciously paints negative image of Pakistan. The recent senate elections in Pakistan once again laid bare the role of corruption and mafias and the level of the putrefaction set in every walk of official and private lives in Pakistan that necessitates immediate reforms in almost all fields but duly prioritised by the government. The people of Pakistan are driven crazy, psycho patients, disillusioned and misled by constant dose of negative media propaganda. Therefore, despite progress in many fields, most Pakistanis have developed the habit to remain thankless and see half glass empty with spread of undue pessimism.
Ruling a country like Pakistan confronted with a lot of internal and external challenges is not a bed of roses especially if one decides to go against the wind of corruption. In such taxing environment, the most important role of the national leadership is to give hope and direction to the public by more actions than words, and follow out of box and unconventional ways and means to steer the boat out of the troubled waters. With Armed forces of Pakistan well poised to deter any foreign aggression with enhanced strategic leverages due evolving geo-political and geo-economic regional and global realignments, the political leadership needs to focus on internal cohesion on all fronts. Repeating the similar experiments with same faces won’t give different results. Although the macro indicators are gradually showing relative progress, yet the masses need immediate delivery and relief on uncontrolled price hike, joblessness and corruption. The NAB and existing judicial system is unlikely to help in recovery of plundered wealth; therefore, some other models followed by China, Malaysia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia may be followed to recover looted public money and help rid Pakistan of its external and internal loans.
Someone rightly commented that he saw a lot of Muslims in Pakistan but most of Islam outside Pakistan. Envy comes from people's ignorance or lack of belief in their own gifts. Most of the Pakistani people neither know about the beauty and blessings attached with Pakistan nor about the value of freedom. The dichotomy between rights and privileges provides a clear example of this. While Pakistan has remained busy in fighting imposed and acquired wars in the last 40 years, our arch foe India followed a strategy of reaching out to the world by sending their skilled labour and youth abroad for higher education in the last forty years; and today they occupy most important places in USA, Europe and ME countries in all walks of life, successfully looking after their motherland as well as their acquired lands’ interests. Our strategic mistakes cannot be compensated and corrected by tactical steps. We need to sincerely follow the examples set by countries with almost same life spans in the aftermath of Second World War, which have been able to achieve zenith of overall progress based on the respective national characteristics defined by honesty, hard work, national pride, uniform national education, comprehensive economic and security systems and above all provision of timely justice to all and sundry. There is no shortcut to national progress and the path ought to be arduous and stretched; however, our national resolve will make it a proud pursuit. A reminder for the incumbent or any future government in Pakistan, “You told me once that we shall be judged by our intentions, not by our accomplishments. But we must intend to accomplish—not sit intending on a chair.” ~
11 March 2021