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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

How Far is Too Far

                Most people know they’ve gone too far when they break something that has a clear and undeniable negative impact on them, by which point it’s often too late. If one wants to avoid going-too-far as much as possible, step one is to realize that you, by yourself, can’t reliably stop yourself from going-too-far or even realize that you have gone too far. Step Two is to realize that you can’t stop going-too-far with self-improvement. You can’t logic yourself or research yourself or willpower yourself into not-going-too-far. What’s dangerously seductive about those tools is that, often, they do help—a little. And that can mislead you into believing that if you just apply them a bit harder—just an ounce more willpower—you’ll fix the problem. The problem is, you’re a primate with evolved mental limitations, biases, ego issues, and an impulse to conserve energy, including mental energy. Prejudices, biases, algorithms, and blindly trusting authority figures, while at times problematic, often helped people survive while running on autopilot. If one insists that he is above all that, he is bound to make things worse for himself, not better. The same is true for not realising as to “how much is too much”.


If we apply these queries on our personal and public lives; then we as individuals, families, groups, society and the government can avoid many troubles for the good of everyone. In personal lives, it applies to the accumulation of wealth, fame, luxuries, and exercise of authority, overindulgences, jealousy, greed, prejudices, unreasonableness and many more wrongs. And by the time one wakes up to reality by chance or by divine intervention, the world as well as the hereafter seems lost. The submission to Almighty Allah and the law of the land, institutional rules, societal and noble cultural norms we put in place to save us when we’re being stupid, can help us. In the modern world, there are scientific systems devised to control and put a check on human tendency to overdo, overstep or over speed; and when the systems are in place, we concede to them for common good.

                When individuals learn to overcome this tendency of ‘going too far’ in pursuit of human ambitions, then the society and the governments can be expected to set the well-defined limits and boundaries that should make the governance more transparent, honest, efficient, public serving and welfare oriented than self-aggrandizement. It goes without saying that only the men and women of credible character and competence can make productive use of the available talent and the systems in a state for good governance; and that is what has mostly remained amiss in a crises stricken state like Pakistan. With due regards for the national short memory, just glance over the current situation in the country and then try to trace it back to the fundamental reasons for the prevalent commotion;  the missing character, incompetence, avaricious pursuits and ‘going too far’ in prodigality will emerge as the leading causes.

                On the political horizon, dominance of the same dynastic rulers with the unchanged fleet of slaves in the last five decades through unfair money and means that includes elections rigging, buying turncoats, bullying and burying political opponents, kidnapping, torture, misuse of the state machinery managed through systematic and well entrenched politicisation of the state institutions has remained order of the day with the public and the country in complete chaos. However, the rulers and the movers and shakers remain blind to the reality that they have already ‘gone too far’ and ‘done too much’, which can be sustained by a country without unmanageable mayhem. The political victimisation through incarceration of political workers and leadership, restricted freedom of expression by media control and interference with social media platforms only smack of an unhealthy society and a state indulging in morbid immoderations. Unfortunately, the absence of political maturity and magnanimity and the consequent crises of leadership have always remained operational in Pakistan; for the same two main reasons discussed above.

                The economic scene is too bad to be stated. Due to the unbearable foreign and domestic loans, the state has virtually become hostage to the IMF for day to day running and the future is not bright anyway as regards getting out of this octopus’s grip. With its current outstanding foreign debt estimated at US$124.5 billion or 42 per cent of GDP, it will need to negotiate with numerous stakeholders including multilateral foreign financial institutions and banks. The devaluation of Pak Rupee, ever mounting inflation and unbearable price hike has already broken the back of the poor, middle and the upper middle classes in Pakistan; giving rise to the robberies, bribery, hunger suicides and many more social evils invisible to the filthy rich elite. Despite production of sufficient food in the country, the price hike is un-understandable by the masses with no relief and government control in sight. The lifeless faces of the public with loss of hope in their eyes is heartbreaking, while the powerful elite in control of the political arenas and the food industry, crops and lands  remains oblivious to the plight of the masses due to self-destructive overindulgence. The media coverage given to the distribution of a few days rations packs managed by the public money to a few poor persons with photographs of politicians on the packets by the incumbent rulers is only indicative of their beyond limit callousness, impudence and disregard to the human dignity; haven’t they already ‘gone too far’ with potential perilous backlash. The large fleet of ministers and advisors who are even no more public representatives in Federal and the Provincial governments is an unaffordable extravagance on public money that needs to be banned by the superior judiciary to set a good example.

                On the security front, in spite of the most courageous supreme sacrifices continuously rendered by the patriotic security forces of Pakistan, the cancer of terrorism, subversion and sabotage is far from over. The multi-front and multi-dimensional threats demand a cohesive nation, political and economic stability and strong Armed Forces with far sighted national security policies and strategy to end this scourge; in that sequence of course. The weakness invites aggression. As for the internal as well as ever exploitative neighbouring foes, we should try to settle through negotiations on superior footings where we can; and strike with adequate military punch where we must. The regional and extra-regional military/ security alliances have greater value than ever before; SCO Security Forum and CSTO membership can provide a reasonable security umbrella against bigger common threats and we need to cement that bond vigorously. Actions speak louder than words; the renewal of public faith in the National Institutions must get utmost importance. In the last two years, the foreign policy of Pakistan remained confined to meek and delayed scanty statements; we need very vibrant foreign policy experts who can regain the lost spaces on the foreign policy front instead of capitulation to the donors and lenders. Needless to say that Pakistan has drifted far away from the desired goals and objectives, which were to be achieved by an honest and efficient legislature, Judiciary and the executives; mainly because the leadership ‘went too far’ and ‘did too much’ in the wrong direction and in the wrong places. Pakistan Zindabad!


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