Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pakistan will Stay and Prosper

By Saeed Qureshi

We all know Pakistan is in deep quagmire. Yet I believe Pakistan will come out of its daunting challenges with flying colors. Since its inception, Pakistan has witnessed and gone through several conceivable trials and tribulations because of both internal and external factors.

Barring the cataclysm of the cessation of East Pakistan in 1971 that truncated Pakistan into two parts, the rest of the problems were of similar import as encountered by nascent nations.

Pakistan’s strength lies in the patriotism of its people, its untapped natural resources, its hardworking manpower, its fertile and vast land, its strong armed forces, resilience of its people to overcome one crisis after another and undying will to survive against odds.
I cannot side with the skeptics and dooms day despondents who claim Pakistan was moving towards disintegration and collapse. Such people are either enemies of Pakistan or paranoid. Or else they don not have the intention to wish well for Pakistan.

The refrain on this setback and that tragedy is the favorite pastime of such individuals who with their trumped up apprehensions sow dejection and despondency to weaken or break the will of the people to live together.

Admittedly there are myriad problems such as bad governance or alloyed democracy or delicate law and order, religious militancy, sectarian strife, poor civic facilities, socio-economic irritants and so on. But does that mean that we should disown the very country and start tolling the bells for its demise?

These problems are much more ferocious and bounteous in several other countries but no one talks about there about the end game or the disintegration.

Look at whole Africa from North to South and Asia minor immersed into a doom’ day stranglehold. Is Pakistan not better than the horrendous conditions prevailing in those states?

Granted that in Pakistan the law and order is fragile and there are murders, kidnapping, assassinations and vendetta killings, bomb blasts and suicide bombings.
But can these incidents be compared with what is happening in the entire Middle East and the civil war raging and ravaging in African countries, like Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda , Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea ,Ethiopia, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Western Sahara.
No matter how flawed the system of government in Pakistan is but fundamentally there is a democratic form with three branches of state functioning relatively free, albeit not as immaculate as we can find in West Europe or the United States.

Those countries reached the stage of mature and accountable systems and good governance after great tragedies and crises and a prolonged period of time. The American civil war alone is a grim reminder of the destruction and horrendous manslaughter and instability that took place during those wars.

Have we forgotten the ideological tussle between the Catholics and Protestants after the onset of Reformation era entailing the spine chilling barbarities perpetrated by the Catholics against the newly emerging breakaway Protestants?

My vision is that Pakistan despite its countless problems including the oft repeated skepticism about its viability and survival will stay and in due course move steadfastly on the way to becoming a modern state with all attending hallmarks.

The brighter side of the present the present day Pakistan is that the women are more empowered, and there is some kind of accountability although the executive has not moved fast to take action against the culprits.

A stage would arrive when civil society would be vibrant enough to press for dire action against the defaulters, outlaws, delinquents, bribe takers and so.

Notwithstanding the personal objectionable character or the villainous volition of the individuals in power in Pakistan, the fact cannot be ignored that it is essentially an elected government. Still it is a democratic dispensation that retains some semblance of accountability and censure as exercised by media and judiciary.

Instead of condemning or berating the government for every major and minor fault, let us see it in a broader context. At least it is being run by the people’s elected representatives. Let us strive and wish that the incumbent government can move away from its mistakes and follies, corrects its rudder, and drives the country out of dire straits. The “worst democracy is better than the best dictatorship”, goes the adage.

The grassroots revolution that is much wished seems to be a far cry at the moment because there is no leader that can motivate the people to come out in the streets and create havoc against the privileged classes. The army basically in Pakistan is not for people friendly change as it comes in power to serve the interests of its own cadres.
Starting from Imran Khan, down to a labor leader no one has the charisma and the caliber to spur a revolution that should be ruthless or if peaceful must be thunderous to root out the morbid status quo.

The socialist or proletariat revolution would be tenaciously resisted by the rightist groups and the conservative bands. Similarly, the religion based change a la Taliban would be narrow and would be hotly contested by the rival groups professing different faith from the mainstream torch bearers.

We cannot see a religious revolution in the contemporary history. But if it takes place, then such a society turns the clock back and remains far behind the developed nations, in social and political terms. Saudi Arabic is one example. Iranian revolution is not essentially a religious change but bears the character of a nation state.

Undeniably, there is an acute yearning for the change and a burgeoning urge to crush the elite classes. But such a pursuit cannot be attained as this is not the era after the World War I. The communist or people’s revolution that started from Russia at the turn of the 20th century failed.
Therefore, its replay would be fatal and futile in the present times when ideology hardly matters and nation states have their own peculiar image and complexion to stay and survive.

If a miracle happens and the genes of the present Pakistani puppet rulers undergo transformation, and they disassociate Pakistan from the ongoing war in northern tribal regions of Pakistan, then that would be the real day of deliverance for Pakistan.

This war that is thrust upon Pakistan by the western countries has turned Pakistan into a traumatic land where the criminals roam free to kill the people and get away.
The Pakistan’s administration demonstrates callous indifference towards the lawlessness and contemptuous disregard of the people’s woes, recasting the institutions and the crucial task of nation building and aversion for the civil society and rule of law.

Doing good things for the welfare of the citizens is alien and an anathema to the rulers who have entered the realm of power by strange coincidence.

But if God is kind and gives them some modicum of care for the Pakistan they should evolve and make such plans that bring a turnaround in the economy of Pakistan. Pakistan can learn and follow in the footsteps of South Korea and Singapore and go headlong for reconstruction of economy and make it booming.

Unlike South Korea and Singapore, Pakistan geographically and demographically is a large country. By recalling the army from the tribal belt and gearing up a stupendous economic activity and reconstruction, Pakistan has the ability and potential to outclass many developing economies of the world?

Why Pakistan cannot do things that serve the people well and make the country strong both economically and socially? Why have Pakistan earned the stigma and odium of a crony and client state of the United States, though we were always forsaken when the job was done?
Pakistan can survive without foreign aid and alms. If we persist and adhere to our national honor and work assiduously for economic uplift and a civil society and functional genuine democracy, no country how overbearing that might be, can harm us.

If Taliban remain confined to Afghanistan let that government deal with them. At best we can stop and block the infiltration of the militants into Pakistan for which not the armed forces but our tribal population is enough and effective.

It is foregone that once we wind up our partnership in regional wars, the radicals and extremists would call off their anti-Pakistan operations and activities. They can later be persuaded to join the nation building task by democratic and civil means.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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