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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

What Plagues Pakistan more than Corona Virus

“Uprooting is by far the most dangerous of the ills of human society, for it perpetuates itself”~Simone Weil.

The outbreak of Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken the world by surprise and the whole globe that was being maltreated by all and sundry; and especially by developed countries with colossal emission gases damaging ozone layer, besides multiple impairments inflicted to natural ecological system are the worst hit. All human advancement in science and technology stands humbled in the face of tiniest invisible virus believed to be a stern warning from Almighty Allah to the mankind thanklessly lost in greed, lust and pleasure, going against God. As on Tuesday, 31st March 2020, all over the globe 0.787 million people has been tested positive infected , death counted are almost 38,000, whereas 0.166 million people have recovered all over the world. In Pakistan alone, infected cases are 1865, with 25 deaths and 58 recovered cases. However, despite the fact that number of patients recovering are far greater than dying because of COVID-19 and from other diseases or even due to road accidents; yet, the fear spread due to contagious nature and especially after much needed lock-down has caused a lot of panic and insecurity. This fright is being multiplied by sensational electronic media’s way of reporting and a swarm of COVID-19 related rumours, conspiracies, medical and religious advises and even linking this pandemic with doomsday scenario, which was covered briefly in my article published earlier, “Dark and Bright side of Pandemics”.

Notwithstanding the domestic and global politico-economic and social fallout, the ongoing global lock-down has pushed the world back to basics of life and forced most of us to pause for a moment and undertake long awaited introspection at individual and collective levels. The forced united families are one greatest plus with ample time to enjoy together, as well as pray to seek Almighty’s forgiveness for our omissions. However, if we continue to see Corona pandemic as a punishment for waywardness by developed and western countries only, we would be committing yet another grave gaffe. There are far more lethal and consequential ills afflicting us in Pakistan as individuals and as a nation that need to be underscored to beg forgiveness from Allah and make a resolute pledge to get rid of all such curses. Let me share my personal views on it.

In my analysis, the biggest nuisance in our country is the dearth of desired high quality basic education and grooming (Taleem-o-tarbiat) of our children from the laps and hands of well groomed mothers and teachers at pre-school and nursery levels, which if properly done, turns a child in to a civilised person at an early age as we witness in Japan, Germany and many other developed countries. That lays the foundation for a civic society. According to F. Douglas, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.” It is this missing solid groundwork that makes the building of our society pretty shaky. The arrogant and defiant youth and adults ‘practising all wrongs as right’, including faulty stretch of freedom of speech and actions are the product of this fundamental failure. Since our political system thrives on keeping the masses illiterate or at best semi-literate and grossly ignorant; therefore a malicious sub-standard and self serving education system has been kept in place for elite, middle class and low middle class. That not only results in great disparity, but the tendency to aim high by middle class to push their children to the elite education institutions with exorbitant fee far beyond their means, compelling them to earn corrupted money. That in turn starts a chain reaction of malpractices, nourishing new generations fed on ill gotten money and hoping against the hope that they will deliver noble results. The outcome is on the contrary a confused youth with little affinity for the motherland or empathy for brethren; rather more worried about earning money and less concerned about right and wrong or moral obligations as a positive member of society.

Misplaced religious beliefs, cult worship, culture dominated religious practices, and condemn-able ism and schism mar the image of our country more than anything else. Consequently, we not only see ever multiplying harmful polarisation, but even dangerous sponsorship by foreign forces giving rise to extremism and terrorism in the service of the paying masters. The cult leaders and religious performers find it too easy to gain popularity among illiterate masses and thereafter, capitalising on the gathered recognition and potential vote bank of followers, their access to the rulers and in the corridors of powers becomes an easy reward. Nevertheless, as a severe backlash, the country as a whole with its 200 million plus population finds itself following religious rituals, which have least to do with the essence of Quran and Sunnah. Haqooq ul Allah and Haqooq ul Ibaad are the two most important aspects in a life of a Muslim to complete his Faith. Haqooq ul Ibaad is the duty we owe to mankind; the rights of every Muslim on the other Muslim. A Muslim who fulfils the “Haqooq ul Allah" will also fulfil the ' Haqooq ul Ibaad"; these are two different things but still intertwined. However, majority of people in our country knowingly indulge in gross negligence and sinful violation of Haqooq ul Ibaad, with the erroneous belief that all their sins will be forgiven by performing Hajj(s) & Umrah(s) and by doling out some ostentatious charity (khairat) from their ill gotten money.

It is opined that our weak faith and the ever widening gap between ‘the haves and the have nots’ due to above two fundamental issues, has given rise to many social problems, Jealousy being in the lead. Shakespeare said, “Oh, beware of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on”. Jealousy is one of the most dreadful tendencies prevalent in our society, which simply means feeling jealous (Hassad) of others’ looks, attire, social status, happiness, satisfaction, knowledge, competence and overall personality. In our daily routine we come across a lot of people whose undue but ominous envy is observable through their eyes, facial expressions, voice, words and body language; the resultant gremlin eats up contentment of many good people and even families. Besides, the same envy breeds undue greed prompting an undesirable rat-race in the society with off-springs like rampant practice of bribery, red-tapeism, inefficiency, backbiting, leg-pulling, nepotism, conspiracies and many more psychological and socio-economic problems.

The list of other crimes widespread in the country like some other countries in the world may be too long to tackle here in a brief piece; however, most of the misdemeanour can be traced back to the above discussed three main mother tribulations. Prime minster Imran Khan may like to take cognisance of the pointed out three mega plagues and put in place a national strategy for a rational and well deliberated response to deliver before next elections become due in Pakistan. That may also serve PTI Government’s political agenda of Change (Tabdeeli) in the country. While we shall Allah willing soon get rid of COVID-19’s risks, tacking and putting things in order from the grassroots’ levels is considered the best approach rather than cosmetics changes. Long live Pakistan!

31st March 2020

· Saleem Qamar Butt, SI (M), (R) is a senior Army officer with rich experience in International relations, military diplomacy and analysis of geo-political and strategic security issues. (Website: )

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