The dilemma being faced in Pakistan is not unique by any means. Politicians, by and large, tend to be unscrupulous and corrupt the world over, nowhere more so than in Italy. Politically, it has been one of the most unstable countries in the world, having changed governments almost as many times in the past seventy years. Yet, it continues to prosper.
It was the same with France in the years following World War II when governments played musical chairs on yearly basis or less. What makes the difference in their case is that the civil administration and judiciary act independently. The day-to-day working of the country remains unaffected and continues to run smoothly and efficiently regardless of who is in power.
If there is a crisis, its magnitude and impact is limited and easily contained. Running a country is above all else a management and administrative issue at every level to be handled by trained professionals.
It was more or less the same in Pakistan until the civil service and judiciary were politicized and rendered subservient to those in power. Standards in the services declined and inefficiency, corruption and nepotism became rampant which led to Pakistan’s failure.
In the absence of any organized and effective protest or opposition, institutions became self-serving and things went from bad to worse.
Read more: Politicization of Civil Services in Pakistan
Who to blame for Pakistan’s dire state?
If there has been a failure in Pakistan, much of the responsibility rests with the people themselves who have not played their part in protecting their rights. Most of the issues lie predominantly within their pale and not that of the politicians alone. Others that do not can also be directly or indirectly influenced by them.
If only a few years earlier the farmers and men in the industry had asserted themselves in the same way as the lawyers did to protect the judiciary, we would not be facing the water and power shortages that had become endemic.
They were well aware of the decreasing water supplies that began to threaten agriculture and power generation. Yet, they remained passive and allowed the crisis to build.
Perhaps, the most worrying spectre that threatens our future is the unsustainable rate of population growth. It can only be controlled through awareness, especially among the most uneducated women.
The task is by no means easy considering the cultural taboos such as we have. There are strict limits to what any government can do under the circumstances. However, the more enlightened women can be very effective in advising and assisting their less fortunate sisters in matters related to family planning.
Lack of accountability
There is legitimate concern about corruption in government. If Pakistan’s government has proven to be a failure to curb it, it should not mean that we have to live with it forever.
The people who indulge in it do not come from some alien planet. They are some one’s father, uncle, brother, husband, cousin, friend, neighbour or are related in some other way. It will make a world of difference if we, as individuals, make a point of disapproving, disowning and reporting on such people.
One reason why our politicians are corrupt and ineffective is that there is little accountability. It is utterly naive to expect these people to police themselves.
The voters could form committees to monitor the activities of their representatives — their conduct, attendance in the assembly, how they vote, what they achieve for the constituents, etc.
Role of education
The lack of literacy and poor quality of education in schools and colleges is a serious issue. In the ultimate analysis, whatever happens, is linked to it in some way. If each literate person were to teach an illiterate one for a year, it is possible to virtually eliminate illiteracy in five or six years.
Similarly, volunteers could take it upon themselves to help out in schools and colleges in their localities. There are scores of other fields such as medicine, sports, arts, hobbies, etc. where help could be easily provided.
Andrew Carnegie, a steel magnate, built and stocked 2,600 public libraries in the US. It must be well within the capability of many thousand people in Pakistan to donate at least one such facility, if not more.
We owe it to the country that gave us everything. Nations are made great not by their governments but by people like Andrew Carnegie.
A need for investment
For a country to prosper economically, it needs investment. It is a sad and regrettable fact that people with disposable capital in Pakistan prefer to invest and create jobs outside the country, making her poorer and politically and socially vulnerable in the process.
Investing in countries where one is never fully accepted or respected while taking away jobs and promoting instability at home, is not something a patriot would do.
The role played by the media in Pakistan has not always been positive or constructive. Like the politicians and the civil and military bureaucracy, they too have not been free of ineptitude and corruption.
Citizens can form media watch committees to ensure that the press does not compromise itself and remains focused on national issues, serving only the national interest.
We allow maverick interlopers to seize power, without protesting and let them run our lives as it pleases their whims and fancy. When foreign troops and aircraft attack our villages and kill innocent people we take it lying down nor are we outraged when our leaders illegally handover our citizens to foreign powers to be abused and tortured.
The way forward
We have abandoned our religion to ignoramuses to misinterpret and exploit with impunity. As a result, a significant segment of our youth has been led astray and driven to different extremes.
There is no shortage of talented scholars, artists, sportsmen and individuals with a host of other skills. If there is to be a future, they need to assume responsibility and play their part. Things do not improve on their own. Also, bad things happen only when good people allow these to happen.
It is not the spirit and capability that are lacking. What is needed is some initiative, organization and planning at the local level.
Read more: Way forward to Good Governance in Pakistan
We saw these at work in 1947 and later following the earthquake in Kashmir and the Northern Areas as well as the floods that hit the country in 2014 when Pakistanis set an example to the world, manifesting Iqbal’s contention: ‘Zara num ho to yeh mitti bahut zarkhez hai saqi.’
We need to recreate the same spirit. Criticism for the sake of criticism, frivolous sermons and gratuitous advice, served out to people who have repeatedly demonstrated their inability to deliver, is an exercise in futility. We need to move on and play our own part in the best way we can.
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.