Pakistan society has suffered from haemorrhages and decay particularly in last four decades. These were the decades of conflict, destruction and wars. While 1978 makes a benchmark for China to take an upwards flight, 1979 makes a benchmark for Pakistan for a downwards flight. It’s natural that owing to perpetual conflict, evolution of civil society as enunciated by Ibne Khaldoon, either retards or gets in retrograde motion. The case of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s neighbouring regions makes a perfect study.
The perpetual conflict has impacted us in many ways. We have suffered loss of blood, money, infrastructure, values of society and most menacingly our national character. All losses will be less daunting to recover than that of national character. In the overall setting of corruption, lack of merit and serving of vested interests, there are few glaring aspects of this loss. Firstly, societies are driven by guilt or shame. These two feelings inhibit a human from committing a sin. Unfortunately both have ceased to exist in our society. Nothing inhibits us from committing a crime or a sin.
Secondly, this environment has created a breed of street smart people who are sycophants, nouveau riche, opportunists and yes-men. These are the people who have been ruling the roost and dominating the system. They see talented and competent people as a threat. So they contrive and rally together to cull merit, talent and competence. Consequently on the whole, in our society while the RIGHT is cornered the WRONG is thriving.
Thirdly, the leadership lacked motivation to develop human resource. Though they justified their actions by citing lack of resources. Human resource development neither serves their political interests nor interests of the breed mentioned in preceding para. Notwithstanding, what we have done to earlier generations, we have successfully corrupted the system for growth of our coming generations. There are three grooming places for a child, school, mosque and home. Schools are teaching cheating, mosque is teaching violence and home is indifferent.
There is yet another aspect to this. In my view while political interests pull us to the left, national interests pull us to the right. Unless these converge we shall not be able to develop as a society. It’s a national interest that people should be educated. Whereas, no Vadera, no Sardar, no Saneen, no lord wants his people to be educated. It’s also a national interest that people should be secure. Just to cite an example, Karachi; a city of 25M people is being managed by 30000 police force. If we exclude police on protocol duties and use combat potential of a London policeman as a yardstick, Karachi is being managed by 1000 policemen. No government will put it right because security of people isn’t a political interest.
Perpetual conflict prevailing in and around Pakistan had a lot to do with our superior strategic location. TV Paul had said, while Middle East is suffering from resource curse, Pakistan is suffering from Strategic curse. He further qualified that people of Middle East due to abundance of natural resources lacked motivation to work hard. Whereas, in case of Pakistan superior strategic location earned them easy money so they lacked motivation to work hard. Easy money has indeed damaged us in many ways.
Pakistan is also suffering from the dilemma of parachuted leadership. Parag Khanna in his book Future is Asian has argued that countries of Asia whose leadership rise from grass root level and climb rungs of ladder would be in step with Asian Century. Whereas the countries where leadership comes through parachute would lack behind.
On the whole, this complex environment has culled virtues and instilled vices in our society. We lost ability to call a-spade-a-spade, ability to say what was wrong. In my opinion, no individual, power or organisation can do better accountability than people of Pakistan. If people start questioning the ruling elite on bad things they do, it will impose caution and deterrence on them. Else they will continue to disregard interests of people and serve their vested interests. I have held a view since long that more than anything else, Pakistan needs social reforms. We need to bring back our values, our ethics and national character. In order to do that, first and foremost is that we ought to be strategically correct. Yet again we don’t have to be friends for war. We only should be friends for peace. Fighting other’s wars can fetch us couple of dollars but will devastate us as a nation much more menacingly than earlier cases.
In the absence of an apt leadership, Pakistan has remained directionless for quite some time. It has been akin to a flotilla of rudderless ships. Notwithstanding many shortcomings, on the whole, Imran Khan seemed to be providing a direction to the society. Apparently, political and national interests seemed to be converging. He focused on raising conscience of the people, he has given awareness to the people. People have begun to question the leadership. People are picking courage to call wrong, what is wrong. IK or no IK, Pakistan is changing very fast and that’s the way to go. People of Pakistan have to take reins in their own hands. Else will they will continue to be exploited by one vested-interest-serving group or the other.