God, America and India, among others, have consistently been blamed for the ills that ail our society. It is time that we, as a Nation and in our own right, sit down and seriously contemplate as to where and how we went wrong to have reached the stage where we stand today. We have relied on external forces too long to take us out of this ever deepening quagmire. It is time that we, the common people, sit down and accept the reality that we have denied till now – there seems no future for this country the way things are going. But to reach a solution, first we must analyze the problems ailing us.
Our already fragmented society is witnessing the formation of new classes everyday – each vying to become more powerful than the other and jealously guarding its domain. Some of them, affecting the social fabric of the country are politicians, industrialists, feudal landlords, the pseudo-mullahs, the military establishment, bureaucrats, lawyers and the media personnel. Each of these classes feeds off the blood of the easily influenced and unsuspecting middle and poor class. As the poor get poorer and increase in numbers, there is increasing fodder for the parasites described above.
At one end of the spectrum are those who have earned billions of rupees by forming cartels (sugar, cement and banking), whose children sleep in air-conditions powered by generators running day and night, who can afford to send their children to the most expensive foreign schools and universities, who travel under the watchful eyes of their gun-totting guards, who have enough money to guarantee their safety from police even after they’ve committed the most heinous crimes. At the other end of the spectrum are people who do not earn enough to provide decent meals to their families, who sleep amidst the hovering mosquitoes, whose children study in madrassahs promising free education and food, who do not have enough money to buy the most basic medicines for their near and dear ones dying due to consumption of polluted water or the bites of dengue fever; these are people in majority and truly at God’s mercy. It is indeed this divide and this great injustice that is manipulated by anti-state elements to fulfill their heinous designs. The law and order situation these days is such that every segment of the society is being direly affected. It is, therefore, the opportune time for us to act i.e. act to eliminate the feeling of uncertainty that is slowly but surely eating at the soul of our Nation.
However, while devising any policy we must take into account the fact that almost 50% of the Pakistani population is less than 20 years old. Therefore, for the survival of our country it is absolutely necessary that this potential workforce is molded in a truly beneficial way. According to statistics, less than 5% of the total Pakistani population receives higher education; a truly chilling fact. For tapping into this immense yet unrealized potential, the foremost focus of our policy makers should be on educating this young budding lot. Instead of ordering bullet proof cars worth millions, our policy makers should investigate the causes that make the madrassahs so popular and try to emulate their key success factors. By this I mean that government should regulate schools in such a manner that they provide a surety of availability of free food on campus; for this is one of the prime attractions for poor people for sending their children to madrassahs. Under the model, children should be provided a mix of both technical and religious education. Such a step would address three important issues i.e. of relieving the tension of parents regarding feeding of their children, of upbringing a breed which would truly practice and comprehend religious moderation and oppose the hate literature that is being practiced and preached these days and finally of providing basic technical skills to these budding young men and women so that they can generate economic activity for their families and their country. By strengthening this future generation and diverting its attention for the advantage of the Nation we shall, in essence, secure our future. This solution is the most plausible one for setting our Nation on the right path and providing books in the hands of our future generations instead of suicide jackets. Despite being the eternal solution this is not the solution that would reap benefits in the short run.
In the short run, we need a visionary and bold (war) leader who can truly start the process of bringing together all classes on a common platform and ending the sense of depravity in the discriminated classes. It should be communicated clearly to all that these pleasures are directly correlated with the survival of our country and currently it is this ‘survival’ that is at stake. For this message to reach everybody across the board, our leaders need to tremendously increase their presence among the masses in this time of doom and gloom. They need to reach out to the common masses and communicate to them the importance of everybody working together to eliminate the most serious threats facing our Nation. They need to explain in detail the long – term and short – term plans (vision) they have for this country. Only by discussing would the common people understand the true nature of the problems facing them as well as their probable solutions. This again is only possible by interacting with the masses which would prove a great morale booster in itself – something needed in high doses in current times.
On the management front, but in the short run, the leaders should focus a great part of their energies on cleansing the society of corrupt elements by using a top to bottom approach; corruption in the financial as well as moral sense. In the given circumstances, when the democratically elected political government is mired in its own issues, such a prospect seems highly implausible. But this does not, in any way, absolve them or the rest of the people from shouldering the responsibility. In these times of hardship and ambiguity the onus falls upon the other distinguished classes that have an equal role in bringing us to this situation where we are today. With the army still being the most powerful, respected and disciplined institution of the country it is necessary for them to take the lead in vindicating itself of the blame of turning into an inefficient fighting yet successful commercial force. What they need to understand is that this does not mean trying their luck once again at governing the country or widening the scope of their ever-diversifying commercial operations. Rather what this means is that they should lead the way in starting a drive with regards to punishing the crooked elements within their own ranks. With the sympathy vote that the army has at this time, this move would prove as a populist move that others especially the politicians, media, judiciary and bureaucracy should be expected to follow for their own survival in the face of public activism. Once accountability starts in our public institutions, the efficiency and effectiveness of the utilized funds would increase manifold and we would be able to direct our finances towards more important fields as education, health, building of basic infrastructure and re-arming of police force with modern weapons et cetera.
It is imperative for everybody to understand that none of the foreign powers is able to manipulate the people of a country who are sincere, honest and patriotic in their approach. It should be our intent to raise, in Pakistan, a strong middle class that is educated, religiously moderate, honest, politically aware, dedicated to the cause of their country and above all self – sufficient so that it can provide our Nation with the power and capability to deal with its internal problems itself without having to put the blame on ‘foreign powers.’ However, what we need to do is act – ACT NOW.