“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” Robert N. Anthony
The quote by Robert N. Anthony epitomizes our understanding of how successful people learn from their mistakes and change their circumstances.
I would not be remiss to say that like people, nations are no different. Historic trauma, brutal dictatorships, and lopsided revolutions are themes woven into the fabric of most states in existence. Yet some have managed to develop in a better way than others.
This begs the question why? Why are some states more prosperous than others, why some people as a collective are able to achieve great things, and others regardless of their circumstances, are still stuck in misery? The secret lies in how they perceive and approach problem-solving.
Read more: Book Review: Why Nations Fail
A positive and meaningful way forward is to approach a problem not as a challenge but rather, as an opportunity. And if we still meet failure, we should learn from our mistakes and remedy our situation as best as possible. Even if our desired outcome does not take shape, our effort is rewarded with crucial lessons learned.
For one reason or the other, this idea was lost over time. When Quaid-e-Azam gave us the gift of Pakistan our national attitude was one of hope, of a new beginning, and tackling the seemingly insurmountable odds facing our young and fragile nation. But sadly, as Quaid’s health gave way so did our enthusiasm for positive action.
A bleak picture
We as a nation tend to blame foreign actors and past governments for our failures. And I have to agree, we haven’t had the most accommodating neighbors or honest leadership. But we can’t blame all our problems on foreign actors or perceived traitors. The narrative of the world keeping us down is like beating a dead horse.
For the Financial year 2020 Pakistan, for only the second time in its history posted negative growth figures. The last time such a bleak picture was given out by the government was in 1952, only 5 years after our nation’s birth.
Such a picture was marginally acceptable back then as we were a young nation recovering from an unfair partition, more than a century of British occupation, and a war with a belligerent and implacable neighbor.
However, today these figures are unacceptable. With one of the world’s fastest-growing populations and a sizeable chunk of natural resources at our disposal, Pakistan should be a rich and nominally happy country. The sad truth is, it’s not. We are strategically placed at the crossroads of Asia and serve as the centerpiece of the Chinese Belt & Road Initiative.
Just the quantum of mineral wealth available to Pakistan alone is astounding. Coal reserves in the Sindh province alone now exceed 2.93 billion tons. Pakistan is so coal-rich, having an aggregate energy potential exceeding the combined energy potential of Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Apart from coal, Pakistan boasts diverse marble and granite ranges which house 120 types of these stones. These resources can place Pakistan on the economic powerhouse list. But that distinction constantly evades us. Why is that?
I believe that our national attitude has shifted from being dynamic, forward-looking, and responsible to being procrastinators, pity mongers, and perpetual blame shifters. Don’t believe me? Just look at our leadership.
Every failure we face is relegated to previous regimes. Instead of finding solutions, we blame our predecessors and revel in our perceived lack of responsibility for our current situation.
This tradition is not limited to the incumbent government. Instead, this malady has affected every government since the Quaid’s demise. This lack of positive forward action and gripping on about the failures of past governments have hobbled Pakistan’s ability to tackle its old and newly emerging challenges.
Read more: Pakistan needs leaders, not social movements
What is worse, is this attitude of internalization and settling political scores has been adopted body, mind, and soul by the establishment. The inability of the establishment to be flexible and open to new possibilities and decentralization is choking innovative thought and is instead promoting red tape, undercutting the establishment’s effort for stabilizing the economy and the country.
What needs to be done?
The first step to becoming action-oriented would be to accept failure as genuine attempts to better our situation rather than a nefarious scheme wrought by foreign powers. A certain level of trust and decentralization will go a long way in establishing a positive dialogue and meaningful feedback loop between politicians, establishment heads, and the citizenry.
Secondly, grand reforms affecting the judiciary at every level must be implemented. For this purpose the judiciary must be overhauled completely from the ground up by recruitment of technologically adept and educated lawyers to serve as judges and presiding officers at all rungs of the institution.
Moreover, emphasis must be placed on the quick and competent disposal of caseloads with meaningful enforcement. Half of Pakistan’s problems will disappear once the rule of law is brought to its major cities in the truest sense.
All government workflows and procedures must be eventually moved to a transparent (where legally possible) blockchain-based national database. Such a system will offer superior security against cyber-attacks, corruption and grey area economics. Procedures will be smoothed out, information readily and transparently available for all to view. This will give rise to investor and citizen’s confidence regarding government operations.
Concrete tangible steps must be taken and bonafide failures must be worn with pride rather than shame. An environment conducive to learning at a national level must be fostered in order to break this negative cycle of procrastination and blaming others for our own failings.
It is high time Pakistan’s leaders take command of its destiny and guide it to a path of economic prosperity and national harmony.
The author is a lawyer based in Multan. His area of interest is the junction of public policy and information technology. He also has a deep interest in politics and history. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.