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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Op-ed: Pakistan’s problematic political culture

The writer laments the dire condition of Pakistan and states that the politicians have failed the country with their hypocrisy and lack of good leadership. According to the author, urgent nation-building steps need to be taken to save the future of Pakistan.

It seems that every problem in Pakistan these days has something to do with party politics. At least as far as the politicians in Pakistan are concerned, it appears as if the country has no other issue. What is happening to the man in the street and the country at large is of little value or concern for the politicians and much of the media. It is not only disappointing but also shameful.

The fact that they don’t talk about other issues does not mean that they have gone away. It may be news to some but life is becoming worse by the day. There are some stark realities facing the country that are becoming urgent with the passing of time and will not go away on their own. They call for urgent attention and action.

Read more: Human rights issues in Pakistan: Predicament of a common man

Problems faced by the ever-growing population 

The population of the part that now constitutes Pakistan was 35 million at the time of independence. Today, it stands at over 225 million which is an almost seven-fold increase while the available land and water resources, etc. have remained the same.

Worse still, we are happily adding about six million souls annually to this already unmanageable lot. This is like adding more than the total population of countries like Sweden and Finland every year oblivious of the consequences or care in the world.

Where are the land, water, money and other resources needed to support this lot going to come from? Who is going to provide additional jobs for them? Where is the investment for their needs including schools, universities, housing, hospitals, transport and other infrastructure going to come from? What will happen if this trend were to continue? How will it impact the security of the people and the country?

Lahore City had a total population of about four hundred thousand, nearly half of it was composed of Hindus and Sikhs who migrated to India at the time of Partition. Today the official figure stands at around thirteen million. It is the same with Karachi where it has grown from three hundred thousand to over sixteen million.

Read more: The implications of Pakistan’s unbridled population growth

The increase has been almost entirely composed of unemployed youth in rural areas seeking jobs in the cities. To create new jobs you need constant investment which in turn calls for long-term stability, a trained, efficient and disciplined workforce as well as an effective legal system, among other things. If none of these exists, who is going to invest in Pakistan?

The British had bequeathed us an administrative system that was once the envy of the world to the extent that Churchill once claimed, a woman in India can walk from Ras Kumari to Torkham without any fear of being molested which cannot be said for any woman walking the length of Britain.

Without going into details, we have wrecked this system at the altar of politics, making it corrupt, inefficient and unresponsive to people’s concerns and needs. That is just about the total sum of our achievement so far in managing and administering the country.

Read more: A country marred by corruption

The deception of politicians in Pakistan

All politicians in Pakistan like to claim that they will rule the country as dedicated and faithful followers of Jinnah. Yet, they lose no time in getting into bed with the very angles of darkness who had bitterly and viciously opposed him and Pakistan throughout his struggle.

While he claimed, ‘What the League has done is to set you free from the reactionary elements of Muslims and to create the opinion that those who play their selfish games are traitors. It has certainly freed you from that undesirable element of maulvis and maulanas,’ our leaders today bend over backwards and even re-write history to seek their blessings.

Our hearts bleed for you Mr Jinnah at what these people have done to the country you won for us. Governance is about uniting the people; not dividing them -to care for all of them and not sacrifice national interest for the sake of political expediency and personal gain. It is about service to all of the people, including those who did not vote for the party. It has to carry all of the people with it.

This is the very essence of democracy and good leadership. A good leader knows the right path to follow. The path we are following will lead only to disunity, despair and ultimately disaster.

Hypocrisy thy name is Pakistani politicians. Politicians in Pakistan care for nothing and no one except themselves and only care about what they can take from the country. To expect anything meaningful and positive from them is to delude oneself.

Read more: Nepotism in Pakistani politics

It is now for us the people to collectively look for a solution and not to fall into the traps of parties and institutions that have been tried, tested and found wanting in the past. More of the same is not the answer; we need a nation-wide debate to find a solution for cleaning up the unholy mess and saving our future.

Enroute to nation-building 

The first priority has to be education. It starts with the teachers. If they are good, dedicated and professional so will be the future generations. We need to set up residential teachers training colleges where the curriculum includes not only academic subjects but also social skills, ethics, morality and physical training to equip them for nurturing wholesome, responsible and committed citizens.

To attract the right candidates, successful graduates should be given the same employment guarantees, pay scales and promotion opportunities as officers in the other provincial services.

Read more: Op-ed: Pakistan needs to declare national emergency on the development of its youth

This is just one example of the kind of nation-building steps that need to be taken in every sphere. The time to start is now. There is no point in waiting for a messiah or a miracle to happen.

What is needed is collective will. It is all up to us the people. Make a workable plan, present it to your elected representative as a delegation -there is strength in numbers. Hound her or him personally and through social media until it gets done. It is the job of the politicians in Pakistan and not a favour you are asking. Do the same with the mainstream media.

We have no choice. It is either this or the spectre of a horrible and frightening future for our children and grandchildren. Do it while there is still time.

The writer is a retired naval officer and is the author of ‘Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis’ and Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective’. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.